Nick Tandy has described Porsche GT team-mate Patrick Pilet as “possibly the fastest guy I’ve ever seen in a 911” ahead of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Speaking at the Autosport International Show, Tandy – who will share the no. 911 Porsche North America entry with Pilet and new signing Kevin Estre – said the team’s line-up was the strongest in the GTLM class, but reserved special praise for reigning IMSA GTLM champion Pilet.
“I raced with Kevin for two years in Carrera Cup, and he’s been in and around the Porsche family for many years now, so it’s been an easy transition,” said Tandy. “Everybody knows how good he is, he’s a double Carrera Cup champion and probably the strongest driver that McLaren had, so we’re very happy to have him in our car; we’d much rather have him in our car than in somebody else’s!
“Patrick is one of the fastest drivers I’ve ever seen, he’s that good,” Tandy continued. “He’s possibly the fastest guy I’ve ever seen in a 911. It worked out to be a good pairing last year; we were always strong in qualifying, the pit crew was exceptional and we didn’t make mistakes as drivers.
“Obviously I’ve had a bit of success myself as well, so between us and Kevin and the fact that we have a double championship winning team with all the crew and personnel remaining the same, we have a strong potential.”
After a bit-part campaign in GTs alongside Pilet in 2015 that included winning outright in torrential rain at Petit Le Mans, Tandy will back for the full-season this year, albeit with the caveat that he won’t be defending his outright victory at Le Mans after Porsche scaled back to two full-time LMP1 entries.
Putting his disappointment to one side, with Daytona representing the first chance to see the brand-new machinery from Ferrari, Ford and BMW in action, Tandy predicts that Porsche’s proven 911 RSR GTE will fare well, even if testing proved somewhat inconclusive.
“It’s a 24 hour race, so it’s Porsche territory,” said Tandy, who won on the car’s first outing at Daytona in 2014 alongside Pilet and Richard Lietz. “We’ve got a car that’s based heavily on last year’s model, especially mechanically, so reliability-wise we’re hoping to outlast some of the new cars from other manufacturers.
“We didn’t do qualifying runs, but I don’t think any of the other teams did either. All we know is we were happy with our test and how our car was working. There’s regulations to do with wing angles and wing heights and things like that which have changed since last year and especially at Daytona a little bit this way or a little bit that way can make a huge difference. It looks like some cars are better than others in certain places and then others are better than others in different places.”