Lap Time: 1:34.23 min.
In 2015, Porsche defeats the prototypes and a hurricane at Road Atlanta.
It is decision day in the title fight for the most important American sports-car championship. The signs are ominous. It is decision day in the title fight for the most important American sports-car championship. The signs are ominous. Hurricane Joaquin is blowing with force, pushing rain masses from the Atlantic coast inland. Its offshoots are heading straight for Road Atlanta. It’s not only the sky that’s darkening over the renowned Georgia racetrack on this October day back in 2015. Things are looking pretty bleak from a racing perspective, too. After a couple of incidents during qualifying, the two Porsche 911 RSRs from the factory team start at the back of the field. For Porsche, this Petit Le Mans seems ill-fated. But now, it’s Nick Tandy’s time to shine.
The Brit and his teammates, Frenchman Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz from Austria, fight their way through the blinding spray. The race, which is set to last ten hours, has to be run under caution several times, using safety car phases. Hydroplaning turns many race-car drivers into passengers. Special trucks try to blow away the masses of water with huge turbines. Conditions are getting worse by the minute. In the middle of the race, it is stopped for an hour. Drainage pipes are a new approach being tried against the torrents on the track. The race is restarted.
For Porsche, this championship is all about GT class wins. At the front of the racing field, thoroughbred prototypes drive in a league of their own—normally.
The crucial last stint begins. Nick Tandy takes all his courage and fully exploits the traction advantage of the 911; the rear engine concept pays off. Tandy pushes hard, pushing himself closer and closer to the limit. He completes the 183rd lap in 1:34.23 minutes. It’s the fastest time in his final stint. He quickly comes within striking distance of the overall leader—a nominally far superior prototype. Five laps later, Tandy has made up the slack and pushes his 911 RSR past the lead car to go into first place. “At this point, there were still two more hours on the clock—a real nail-biter,” as Tandy, now thirty-five, recalls.
After another nine laps, however, race control aborts the race due to flooding on the track. Porsche has done the unthinkable, and the 911 crosses the finish line as overall winner. Tears of joy start to flow, mixing with the raindrops. This victory also secures the manufacturer’s title for Porsche. Pilet is crowned driver champion of the series for 2015, and Tandy wins the 2015 Petit Le Mans in the 911 RSR four months after his victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Porsche 919 Hybrid. “It was completely surreal—a day I’ll never forget.”