Tandy, Jaminet take Porsche and Penske to milestone Laguna win

The newly repaved WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with more grip and much less tire degradation than before, provided IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams the ability to try a variety of tire strategies in the Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N. Some took tires at every opportunity, some tried only right-side tires on the predominantly left-turn circuit, and some even took no tires. Two teams attempted the latter on the final stop, and what worked for the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 had disastrous effect for the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R.

Both teams had foregone tires in the final pit stop even though they were on rather different strategies. It proved the right call for the Porsche Penske team that chose to keep Nick Tandy out as late as possible so he could take less energy and gain position with a shorter stop. Renger van der Zande, though, saw any shot at victory for the No. 01 Cadillac disappear as he slid backward in the field.

Tandy emerged from the final pit stop behind leader Jack Aitken in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing V-Series.R and pursued him for the remaining 46m of the 2h40m race. He was pressuring Aitken for most of that time until the decisive moment came in Turn 4 with 11m left in the contest. Aitken tried to go outside a GTD PRO Corvette, but soon found that door closed and took a small-off-course excursion. Tandy went toward the inside and swept through for the lead — one he’d hold for a 5.764s margin of victory for he and Mathieu Jaminet.


“In clean air, we had nothing for him because you have to be significantly quicker in a straight fight in these cars to be able to pass on a tight circuit like Laguna where it’s so aero dependent,” said Tandy. “I could close within about a second, but when I got that close, I started to lose tire energy, lose tire temperature and started to lose pace. But we were faster, and so every time we would catch traffic, I knew I had to put pressure on him. Because when you have a 10s gap, it’s easy to go through traffic. You can pick and choose. But when someone’s pressuring you, and they’ve been pressuring you for 20 or 30 laps, the decisions have to get quicker and more off the cuff, and nine times out of 10 it’s pretty obvious.

“I feel for Jack; it wasn’t obvious what was going to happen. There were two cars fighting and he picked one side, just as they started to go that way. I had the grandstand seat to see where they were going and managed to go the other way and take the lead.”

The victory was not only the 100th sports car win for Penske, but was also the 600th win for Porsche in IMSA competition. It also marked the fourth different GTP-winning car in as many races in 2024.

The No. 01 Cadillac looked to be in control in the first stint of the race as polesitter Sebastien Bourdais not only led, but pulled away handily from Pipo Derani in the No. 31. Derani was struggling with sub-optimal tire pressures, and elected to pit early, after only 30m had elapsed. The timing proved fortuitous, as before most of the rest of the GTP field had made their first stop, the race’s only full-course caution, for debris off the No. 7 PPM 963 in Turn 2, came out after 50 minutes. It put the cars that had not stopped at a disadvantage, including the No. 01, the No. 24 BWM M Team RLL M Hybrid V8 running second, both PPM Porsches and the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06. It especially hurt the No. 01, as the gap Bourdais had built was erased. The No. 31, however, took advantage of the yellow to top off its energy and put Aitken in the car, gaining track position in a very short stop.

Confusion reigned during the yellow, as leader Aitken didn’t go when the class split commenced, and Tandy took the field to the line for the restart, but Aitken quickly resumed control. Van der Zande also got by, relegating Tandy to third.

When the second round of pit stops began, Aitken was the first to answer the call, and the crew equipped the No. 31 with new right-side tires, just as it had done in the first stop – the Cadillac finished the race on the same left-side tires it started with. The No. 40 Acura with Jordan Taylor at the wheel also took right-side tires. The No. 7 PPM Porsche took rear tires, and the No. 01 Cadillac left on the same tires with which it arrived.

Tandy, meanwhile, kept circulating, and he was pushing, trying to create as large a gap to the rest of the field until he was forced to pit as the Porsche’s energy stores neared zero.

“We knew we weren’t going to take tires, so the only play that we had – if a yellow came out, we were done for,” explained Tandy. “So the only play that we had was to to go as long as we could, and as hard as we could, to try and make a difference from our hot tire, low fuel end-of-stint laps as opposed to the cars that came out of pit lane with fuel weight on board to finish the race. It was flat-out all the way. We stretched as far as we could to try and make the most of the low weight situation.”

Tandy emerged from the timed stop with 80 percent of energy in second, with a 3s gap to Aitken in the lead and a big gap back to van der Zande in the No. 01 Cadillac. It was as close as van der Zande would get to converting pole to victory, as first Nasr pushed by him in the No. 7 Porsche, and then Jordan Taylor would put the No. 40 WTRAndretti Acura into fourth in the final 10 minutes. The No. 01 ended up fifth.

With the victory, the No. 6 PPM squad of Tandy and Jaminet moved into fifth in points headed to the next race at Detroit in three weeks. Their teammates, Dane Cameron and Nasr who finished third Sunday, have 1357 points for the lead, followed 50 points back by Aitken and Derani, who are still looking for their first victory of 2024, but have scored three second-place finishes. Bourdais and van derZande sit third at 1269, and Jordan Taylor and Louis Deletraz are fourth at 1244.


Story originally appeared on Racer