Porsche Score a Podium at WEC Season Opener

by Jean-Paul Hackett

After a fantastic race at Spa-Francorchamps, the Porsche GT Team has started the WEC season with a second and fourth place.

Over six hours and 148 laps, ten vehicles from five manufacturers battled it out in the GTE-Pro class. Under a cloudless sky and with temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius, 63,000 spectators witnessed the thrilling first round of the 15-month 2018/2019 Super Season.

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (92), Michael Christensen (DK), Kevin Estre (F), Spa-Francorchamps 2018

Credit: Porsche Motorsport

Frenchman Kévin Estre and Danish driver Michael Christensen grabbed the second position in the #92 car and narrowly missed out on clinching the maiden WEC victory for the new Porsche 911 RSR.

Estre, who is a Porsche regular explained, “Our start went well. Unfortunately, the tyres began to deteriorate badly at the end of the first stint.

“In the middle of the race, we had to drive a double stint. Michael did a great job and lost hardly any time.

“After that came a stop-go penalty for wheel spin in the pit lane, but we fought our way back up to position three. Sadly it wasn’t enough to win. For Porsche, it’s an excellent result to start the season.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (91), Gianmaria Bruni (I), Richard Lietz (A), Spa-Francorchamps 2018

Credit: Porsche Motorsport

Their team colleagues, the two former WEC champions Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, finished the race in fourth with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. Lietz was pleased with his performance, “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.”

Credit: Porsche Motorsport

Starting the race from third on the grid, Bruni and Lietz moved into the lead of the GTE-Pro class with the Porsche 911 RSR after less than two hours and only relinquished it shortly before the flag. “I’m disappointed, of course. We were running in the lead for more than four hours”, said a frustrated Bruni,

“Richard and I did everything we could, and we’d built up an advantage of around 15 seconds to the car behind us and about 55 seconds to third place. Unfortunately, the safety car phase cost us this lead.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Dempsey Proton Racing (77), Julien Andlauer (F), Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (D), Spa-Francorchamps 2018, Team Project 1 (56), Joerg Bergmeister (D), Patrick Lindsey (USA), Egidio Perfetti (N), Spa-Francorchamps 2018

Credit: Porsche Motorsport

Four other Porsche 911 RSR race cars lined up to contest the GTE-Am class. For the Dempsey Proton Racing customer team, Australian Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and the Frenchman,  Julien Andlauer secured fourth place with the #77 car.

Sixth place at the opening round in Spa went to the #88 sister car driven by Khaled Al Qubaisi, Matteo Cairoli and Giorgio Roda.

Directly behind them, Alex Davison, along with the British pairing of Ben Barker and Michael Wainwright took the flag in the 911 RSR of the Gulf Racing customer squad.

The rookie team Project 1 scored ninth place with drivers Patrick Lindsey, Norwegian Egidio Perfetti and Porsche’s works driver Jörg Bergmeister.

The Porsche teams will now focus on preparing for “The Big One” at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

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