A third win of the season in the fourth round of the Le Mans Series (LMS) leaves Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz on the verge of successfully defending the LMGT2 class title. The pair of Porsche works drivers were once more victorious in the latest round of the championship (August 22), though in new surrounds as the Hungaroring played host to its first LMS event.
However, the duo, driving for Team Felbermayr-Proton were far from the dominant force in the race as the Ferrari 430s of AF Corse and CRS Racing battled at the front of the field, the Porsche only taking the lead during pitstop cycles. But that all changed after the final stops, which the Porsche took with over an hour left in the six hour contest.
Having come in from second place the pitcrew completed perhaps one of the best performances of the year, returning the car and Lietz to the track in a time twelve seconds better than their nearest rivals to take the lead ahead of the CRS Ferrari.
As darkness fell approaching the 10pm checkered flag the Ferrari drew closer and closer to Lietz, falling nine second short of the Porsche at the end of the race.
“That was our toughest race this season. The Ferraris made our lives difficult right to the finish,” admitted Lietz. “I only managed to pull away slightly in the last lap. This victory is all the more valuable because our starting position down the grid wasn't that great. We definitely need to do something about our qualifying. But I'm sure we'll improve on this.”
Elswhere on the podium there was further cause for Porsche celebration, with Patrick Pilet and Raymond Narac claiming third for Narac's Imsa Performance Matmut squad. The result was their first podium of a frustrating season, Pilet exclaiming “We finally did it. We were so close to finishing on the podium at every race this season but were always hampered by some problem or other. But this is now forgotten. To finish third here was very, very hard. But at least we've shown we can match the pace of the top.”
The second Felbermayr-Proton car saw Le Mans 24 Hours winner Romain Dumas join regular drivers Martin Ragginger and Christian Ried in another star-studdedline-up. However, the trio could only finish seventh. “What a turbulent weekend,” said Ragginger, who also drove in a Carrera Cup race at Zandvoort over the weekend. “For the first time in my career I contested two races in two different countries on the same day. It's something I won't quickly forget. Our most important goal here was to consolidate our third place in the championship.”
But it was not all celebration for the manufacturer's entries as the fastest Porsche in qualifying, that of Prospeed Competition, and drivers Richard Westbrook and Marco Holzer was forced to retire.
The final round of the Le Mans Series takes place on the Arena Circuit at Silverstone, where Lieb and Lietz will hope to complete their successful title defence.