Four podiums in Spa

Thriller in the Ardennes: second, third and sixth for Porsche 919 Hybrids. In GTE class, Porsche also brought home two podium spots.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team, Spa 2015, Porsche AG

After an action packed six-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps, the trio of Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany) came second at round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). This is a repeat of the season’s opening race in Silverstone. Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and Mark Webber (Australia) had started from pole position, dropped back due to a penalty and a technical failure, but fought their way back to finish third. The third Porsche 919 Hybrid with Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Formula One driver Nico Hülkenberg (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), that was being entered for the first time, started second but lost ground because of an accident which was followed by a stop for repairs. They recovered after dropping to the back of the field to finished sixth.

How the race went for car number 17:

Hartley took the lead from pole position. Just before he was due to hand over the car to Bernhard after 23 laps, he locked the brakes before the bus stop chicane and used the escape road to get back onto the track. He was given a 15 second stop and go penalty, which saw the car drop back to second place, before a damper change during the driver change to Webber after 47 laps cost even more time. Webber managed to improve to third during a double stint. After 95 laps Hartley took over, refuelled after 119 laps and handed over to Bernhard after 137 laps. Bernhard came in for his final stop for fuel after 161 laps and finished third.

How the race went for car number 18:

Lieb improved from third on the grid to second right after the start and stayed there. After 22 laps he handed over to Jani, who moved up to first place when the sister car received a stop and go penalty. Dumas got in the car after 46 laps and extended the lead to 27 seconds. After 94 laps Lieb returned to the car and re-joined the race in second. He had a strong fight with Benoït Tréluyer for the lead, which changed several times. After 133 laps he handed over to Jani. He had his last splash-and-dash after 157 laps and finished the race in second place.

How the race went for car number 19:

Tandy started second and was third after lap one. On lap seven a misunderstanding led to an accident with one of the works Porsche 911 RSRs, and required a stop for repairs. After 32 laps Hülkenberg took over the car in ninth position for a double stint. After 80 laps Bamber got behind the wheel for the first time. He refuelled after 104 laps and handed over after 128 laps to Tandy, who picked up fresh tyres for the left hand side at his last stop for fuel after 152 laps before he finished sixth.

„We were absolutely up to speed“

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “That was an extremely exciting and turbulent race for us. At the beginning we had a one-two-three lead before an unlucky accident. But with the two podium finishes and sixth we have achieved our target to finish the race with all three cars. We were absolutely up to speed. The result speaks for itself when first and the second are separated by only a few seconds after a six-hour race. We also once again made progress in terms of reliability. We are on the right path for Le Mans and look forward to the great challenge.  I take my hat off to the entire team – especially to the third crew and our three new drivers. They integrated themselves into the team very well and were competitive right from the beginning.”

Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1, Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, Spa 2015, Porsche AG
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1, Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, l.-r.

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “For the moment I must admit there is a feeling of disappointment. After having locked out the front of the grid with a one-two-three in qualifying, for sure we would have been able to win that race if it had all gone according to plan. Regarding the crew of car number 19, we can say: mission accomplished. The drivers completed all their race stints, and this was the main target to get ready for Le Mans. A big thank you to the pit crew who successfully managed two repairs in the garage during today’s race. After it all, I would say we have managed the challenge to enter three Porsche 919 Hybrids for the first time. We have finished the race with all three cars and took two out of three available podium places. This means valuable points for the World Championships.”

How the race went for the GTE class:

Campaigning the 470 hp Porsche 911 RSR, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, Porsche works drivers Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) put in a spirited charge through the field to bring home second place in the GTE-Pro class. In the sister 911 RSR fielded by Porsche Manthey, Porsche Junior Sven Müller (Germany) and Kévin Estre (France) secured third after a strong drive at their WEC debut.

Over 54,000 spectators travelled to the storied circuit in Belgium’s Ardennes region on Friday and Saturday and were treated to a riveting qualifying followed by an equally as gripping second round of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship. After a somewhat cautious start from the fourth GT row, Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz, who team up in WEC cockpit for the first time together this season, picked up the pace in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR over the course of the race. Thanks to their spirited drive on the challenging Ardennes circuit and a perfect pit stop strategy, the two made up critical places and, after a spectacular charge through the field, were able to crown their feat with a podium finish.

Sven Müller and Kévin Estre for Michael Christensen and Patrick Pilet

With an impressive performance at their maiden outing with the Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Junior Sven Müller and Kévin Estre were also able to hold their own in the top-class GT field. On the difficult 7.004-kilometre circuit, the pair stood in for the regular WEC drivers Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Patrick Pilet (France) – who are contesting the Tudor United SportsCar Championship in Laguna Seca/USA on Sunday for Porsche North America – and promptly clinched a podium result. At their first WEC race and as teammates, they lost time and positions in the first race hour through a collision, but remained unruffled by the setback. Turning consistently quick laps and with that touch of race luck, they battled their way up the field to bring home a well-deserved podium result. This season, Sven Müller normally competes in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and drives at selected rounds of the Carrera Cup Deutschland. Kévin Estre won the Carrera Cup France in 2011 and the Carrera Cup Deutschland in 2013.

In the 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche customer team Abu Dhabi Proton Racing, the former Porsche Junior Klaus Bachler (Austria), and his teammates Christian Ried (Germany) and Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) narrowly missed out on a podium spot in the GTE-Am class. They were flagged off in fourth. US race driver and actor Patrick Dempsey, Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA) and Marco Seefried (Austria) finished in fifth at the wheel of Dempsey Proton Racing’s 911 RSR.

"They came up through the ranks of Porsche’s brand trophy series"

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche Head of Motorsport “This was a somewhat turbulent race under tricky conditions. You don’t have to understand the interventions of the stewards, but somehow it all balanced out in the end. Above all, we must underline the performance of Kévin Estre and Sven Müller, they did a fantastic job. When you’re new to a well-oiled team, the pressure and expectations are always very high, but the way these two handled it deserves the highest respect. They came up through the ranks of Porsche’s brand trophy series, and, considering the field they were up against today, everything they learned in our makes cup series speaks for itself. You can only recommend to every young driver to learn there.”

Round three of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC is at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on 13/14 June. Prior to this on 31 May, an official test day is held on the Circuit des 24 Heures.

55 Porsche pilots race at Spa

As support to the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC, the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux held two championship races each at Spa-Francorchamps, which brought the number of Porsche pilots competing on the storied circuit this weekend to 55. “We were able to showcase the entire Porsche Motorsport pyramid from the base to the top here in Spa,” said Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, who handed the winner’s cup of the GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux to Max van Splunteren on Saturday. Dan Cammish, the winner of the Porsche Carrera Cup Britain race, received his trophy from Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG.

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser did not miss the opportunity to stroll through the brand trophy paddocks, as did Porsche factory pilot Nick Tandy, who took the chance to visit his former competitors from the Carrera Cup Britain. And many drivers from the makes cups had a look at the Porsche work steam in the WEC. “That’s what makes Porsche special,” commented the Head of Motorsport. “Everybody is welcome at anytime with us. We are not an elite club, but one big family. And that’s how we will keep it in the future.”

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