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Championship Countdown: Pfaff Porsche Poised to Win First GTD PRO Title

The Fourth in a Series Highlighting the Title Battles in All WeatherTech Championship Classes Heading to the Season Finale

 

By Mark Robinson

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Since his car only needs to be on the starting grid Saturday at Motul Petit Le Mans to sew up the GTD PRO class championship, Mathieu Jaminet recently pitched an interesting tongue-in-cheek strategy to the rest of the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports team.

 

“I was like, ‘Why not just take in the start and stop in the race and go have some beers?’” Jaminet recalled with a smile. “They were not a big fan of the idea.”

 

Joking aside, 27-year-old Frenchman Jaminet knows that the plaid Porsche 911 GT3 R crew and drivers will approach the 2022 season finale with the same gusto that they’ve had this inaugural GTD PRO season, resulting in five class wins and a runaway to the title. Jaminet and co-driver Matt Campbell – Porsche factory drivers each in his first full season of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, with both headed to Porsche’s new LMDh prototype program in 2023 – will officially nail down the team and driver crowns by starting the 10-hour race. Porsche has already locked up GTD PRO manufacturer honors.

 

But Jaminet, Campbell, endurance driver Felipe Nasr (also a Porsche LMDh driver in ’23) and the rest of the No. 9 team want more. Namely, a sixth win to cap a most impressive 10-race season and a second consecutive WeatherTech Championship title for Pfaff, which took home GT Daytona (GTD) class laurels in 2021.

 

“You certainly don’t get to chase championships very often,” said Steve Bortolotti, Pfaff’s general manager. “This is a special opportunity and we’re very motivated to make that (sixth win) happen.”

 

Campbell, the 27-year-old Aussie who won at Petit Le Mans the past two years in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class that was succeeded this year by GTD PRO, concurred.

 

“We’ve had a fantastic run for the championship so far, quite surreal,” he said. “To be able to finish with another win would be very, very special. … We’re going for it, no question, and also for me it would be three straight (wins) at Petit, which would be very, very cool.”

 

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Corvette, Lexus Fighting for Second in GTD PRO Standings

 

The GTD PRO points battle, therefore, is for second place. Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD sit 16 points ahead of Ben Barnicoat and the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Depending on how qualifying goes, it may well come down to whichever car finishes better in the seven-car class.

 

“The (No.) 9 car has had a great season,” said Barnicoat, who will team with Jack Hawksworth and Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 14 as they try to deliver Lexus its first WeatherTech Championship endurance race win. “They have been super strong in both pace and not making mistakes, but I feel we have been the best of the rest, no doubt. Which is why we’re right there and in the fight for second in the points. To get second in the championship means everything to our team, and I’ve not felt more confident heading into a race this season.”

 

Corvette Racing, meanwhile, has eight Motul Petit Le Mans victories but none since 2010. Garcia, who has never won the race, would like to end the drought for himself and the team. He and Taylor hold a two-point lead in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup standings and would also like to bring home that prize. Nicky Catsburg rejoins them for the finale.

 

“This has been a very challenging year moving to GTD PRO,” Garcia said. “It took a lot of work to get the C8.R ready for Daytona. Since then, we’ve been in some races and not competitive in others. Although we are leading the Endurance Cup standings, we are effectively out of the season championship. It’s not a familiar position for us, but now we can just go and race for the win this time.”