Porsche GT Team starts Spa season-opener from second grid row

Porsche heads into the opening round of the Sports Car FIA World Endurance Championship on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday from the second grid row. In a breathtakingly close qualifying, Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz set the third quickest time with their 911 RSR, just 87-thousandths of a second off pole position.

The Qualifying

Directly behind Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria), Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) 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 in a clear blue sky and temperatures of 19-degrees Celsius. At the first customer outing of the latest 911 RSR, all four cars qualified in the top five. Pole position went to Dempsey Proton Racing with drivers Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (Germany) and the Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (F). The #88 sister car with pilots Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (I) and Giorgio Roda (I) was fifth. The third best qualifying time was posted by Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister from Germany, Patrick Lindsey (USA) and Egidio Perfetti (N) for Team Project 1. Gulf Racing lines up on the grid on fourth with drivers Michael Wainwright (GB), Ben Barker (GB) and Alex Davison (AUS).

Qualifying quotes

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “A very close qualifying. We were only four-thousandths of a second off pole. That’s a very good start to the season. Of course P1 and P2 was our dream, but we’re right up there. We’re on pole in the GTE-Am class and four vehicles are in the top five. This promises to be a very exciting race in both classes.”

Find quotes of the drivers in the press release (downloads).

The race

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which is approximately 20 kilometres from the German border, sets motorsport fans’ hearts racing: The 7,004-kilometre circuit is an electrifying mix of high-speed passages such as the famous Eau Rouge and slower sections. An altitude difference of around 100 metres makes the season-opening round into a rollercoaster ride. One unpredictable factor in the Ardennes is the weather: The sun can be shining in the Bus Stop chicane, while in Le Combes it’s raining.

The Porsche GT Team drivers

Sharing the cockpit of the #91 car, the new driver pairing of Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria) tackles a world sports car championship race for the first time together. Bruni, as the two-time champion, has contested the second half of the 2017 IMSA Weathertech Championship in the USA and is thus well acquainted with the 911 RSR. Like last year, Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) share the # 92 Porsche 911 RSR.

The customer teams

In the GTE-Am class, three Porsche customer teams run a total of four 911 RSR racers. The Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Lindsey (USA) and Norwegian Egidio Perfetti drive for the Project 1 team. The British pilots Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker join forces with Australian Alex Davison to compete for Gulf Racing. Dempsey Proton Racing competes with two GT racers from Weissach. Sharing the wheel of the #77 car for the Super Season are the Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), Christian Ried (Germany) and Porsche-Junior Julien Andlauer (France). Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Khaled Al Qubaisi (United Arab Emirates) and Giorgio Roda (Italy) pilot the second 911 RSR of the squad supported by the Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey.

The Porsche 911 RSR

After securing runner-up in the driver’s championship thanks to Richard Lietz and Fréderic Makowiecki in 2017, the Porsche GT Team has now set its sights on the driver’s and manufacturer’s title in the world sports car championship. The Porsche 911 RSR celebrated its premiere in international long-distance racing in 2017 and is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. Depending on the restrictor, the water-cooled four-litre flat-six engine puts out around 510 hp.

The schedule

The six-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps begins on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 14:30 hrs local time.

The race on TV and the internet

The first race of the season at Spa-Francorchamps can be seen as a free live stream from 13:00 to 20:00 hrs on www.sport1.de Sport 1 broadcasts the start, the action from 14:25 to 15:25 hrs as well as the finish on TV. Eurosport 1 broadcasts live from 18:15 to 19:40 hrs and shows paid content of the entire race from 13:00 to 20:05 hrs on Eurosport Player. For a fee, the FIA WEC app offers a live stream of the entire race plus live timing.

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