Porsche heads into the opening round of the Sports Car FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday from the second row on the grid.
In a very close qualifying session, Italy’s Gianmaria Bruni and Austrian Porsche stalwart Richard Lietz set the third quickest time with their 911 RSR, just 87-thousandths of a second off pole position.
“The car felt perfect, I was surprised how much grip we had,” said Lietz, “The team and our engineer did a perfect job. The tyres provided the right grip at the right time. Our lap was good. Gianmaria did a great job, too, we both drove the same times. Position three is a great start to the new season.”
Bruni, who is now in his second full season with the German marque after leaving rivals Ferrari, explained how the qualifying session went for him, “Unfortunately I made a minor mistake in the first lap and lost a little time between sectors one and two. But that’s how it goes when you push. In the two remaining laps, faster times were no longer possible, unfortunately.”
Directly behind them, Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen take off into the 15-month 2018/2019 Super Season in the sister car.
In the GTE-Am class, the three customer teams Gulf Racing, Team Project 1 and Dempsey Proton Racing put in an impressive show during the qualifying session under a blue sky. This weekend is the first time that the all-new customer 911 RSRs have taken to the track in competition, all four cars qualified in the top five.
Pole position went to Dempsey Proton Racing with Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and the Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer behind the wheel. Campbell reflected on his performance during the session, “The qualifying ran brilliantly. We were already amongst the frontrunners during free practice, and we tackled the session feeling very confident, despite not knowing what level the other teams were at right now. Clinching pole is, of course, a perfect start to the new season. I’m looking forward to the race, but we also know that a lot can happen in six hours.”
The #88 sister car with Khaled Al Qubaisi, Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli and Giorgio Roda driving managed to secure fifth.
Porsche posted the third-best qualifying time with works driver Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti for Team Project 1.
Sporting what many consider to be the most elegant livery in the field, Gulf Racing lines up fourth on the grid with drivers Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker and Alex Davison. British team veteran Ben Barker was optimistic about his team’s chances in the race, “We adjusted the setup before the qualifying, and the changes made us faster than in the previous sessions. We’ve taken a big step forward. Our bronze driver Mike drove superbly. The field is very close; the race will be extremely exciting. We’ll fight for a podium spot.”