Early Exit For David Heinemeier Hansson and Porsche Napleton Racing At Sebring
SEBRING, March 18, 2011: A good race start that was hampered by more than one body blow by a competitor to the No. 37 Porsche Napleton Racing/37signals Porsche GT3 was the likely cause of an early exit for David Heinemeier Hansson Friday at Sebring International Raceway in Round 2 of the season-opening event of the 2011 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama.
After finishing a solid sixth in the top-tier Platinum Cup class in Thursday’s season-opening race, Hansson and the debuting Porsche Napleton Racing (PNR) team were looking for an even better result today. A series of hard hits, however, as the green flag flew – including one squarely on the No. 37 Porsche’s left rear wheel – likely created a terminal gearbox issue less than two laps later.
“When we were coming down to the stripe, just a few seconds after we hit the go, I felt like two big smashes in the back of my car,” Hansson said. “As soon as we got the green flag I got a few bangs on the back. I looked back there and saw an orange car just banging into my left rear fender, but somehow we got through it. I got a good run out of turn one, a great pass into three and moving up through the field I think I got a few positions there.”
Hansson crossed the start/finish line in seventh place on Lap 1, up three spots from his 10th place starting position, but just a few corners later the No. 37 Porsche slowed with the gearbox issues and limped back to the pits.
“As soon as I got down to turn seven there was something wrong, the gearbox just wouldn’t shift, and it felt like something was rolling over inside,” Hansson said. “By the time I got to turn 10 the gearbox was gone and it wouldn’t go to any gears. That was game over.”
Although the PNR team will have to get inside the Porsche’s gearbox to learn the ultimate cause of the failure, there’s no question the green-flag contact didn’t help.
“I guess something was knocked around, or maybe already was rolling around in there, but it just didn’t last,” Hansson said.
Despite the disappointment of Friday’s short-lived race, Hansson and the PNR team still left Sebring encouraged with the pace and performance they demonstrated this week as they begin their first-season campaign in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.
“The competition was definitely stiff and it felt like we were pretty much there,” Hansson said. “It’s just frustrating that we get a good run on it and it ends too soon.”
Friday’s race was the second and final of this week’s pair of sprints at Sebring that kicked off the 2011 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season. Next up for Hansson and PNR is Round Two of the series at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, April 29 – May 1.