WEC: Porsche Podium At Spa
The opening round of the 2018 World Endurance Championship (WEC) might have been missing the LMP 919 Hybrids, but for Porsche’s GT team it was a good way to start a season of racing. Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen secured a second place finish in their No92 911 RSR. But it was their colleagues, former WEC champions Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, who narrowly missed out on victory, finishing the race in fourth spot in the No91 Porsche.
Over the course of the six-hour race, ten vehicles from five different manufacturers battled for glory in the GTE-Pro class in perfect conditions and in front of 63,000 spectators. This first round of the 15-month 2018/2019 Super Season, saw plenty of action in the form of plentiful overtaking and several Safety Car phases.
Having started third on the grid, after less than two hours Bruni and Lietz moved into the lead of the GTE-Pro class only relinquishing it shortly before taking the chequered flag, ultimately in fourth position. In the sister car, Estre and Christensen made the most of a turbulent start to advance from fourth into third. After the last round of pit stops, Christensen swept into second place where he stayed until the end of the race.
Richard Lietz said: “As expected, that was a very tough fight. We held the lead for a long time, but the safety car phase eroded the gap we’d built up. Towards the end of the race I drove a double stint and could barely fend off the attacks from my pursuers.”
Michael Christensen commented: “This race had truly everything that a six-hour race can throw at you. Our start was okay and we managed to maintain our position over the distance. But then, unfortunately, we received a stop-and-go penalty. This was followed by a safety car phase and a lot of traffic. Consequently, it was a very difficult race. I’m thrilled with the podium result.”
Four other Porsche 911 RSR race cars lined up to contest the GTE-Am class. For the Dempsey Proton Racing customer team, Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer secured fourth place with the No77 911. Sixth place went to the No88 car driven by Khaled Al Qubaisi, Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli and Giorgio Roda. Directly behind them, Alex Davison, Briton Ben Barker and Michael Wainwright took the flag in the 911 RSR of the Gulf Racing customer squad. Newcomers Project 1 scored ninth place with Patrick Lindsey, Egidio Perfetti and Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister.
Round two of the WEC takes place on 16-17th June at Le Mans.
|1. Mücke/Pla/Johnson||Ford GT||148 laps|
|2. Christensen/Estre||911 RSR||148 laps|
|3. Rigon/Bird||Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||147 laps|
|4. Lietz/Bruni||911 RSR||147 laps|
|1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda||Aston Martin Vantage||144 laps|
|2. Yoluc/Alers-Hankey/Eastwood||Aston Martin Vantage||144 laps|
|3. Sun Mok/Sawa/Griffin||Ferrari 488 GTE||143 laps|
|4. Ried/Andlauer/Campbell||911 RSR||142 laps|
|6. Al Qubaisi/Roda/Cairoli||911 RSR||141 laps|
|7. Wainwright/Barker/Davison||911 RSR||137 laps|
|9. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti||911 RSR||131 laps|