The squad and drivers of both nine-eleven racing cars used the two-day test drives near the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona to familiarise themselves with the new car and all the processes.
Austria’s Richard Lietz and his teammate Gianmaria Bruni from Italy as well as the reigning world champions Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) covered a total of 362 laps and 1,685 kilometres on the 4.655 kilometre racetrack.
In addition to the two Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) run by the Porsche GT Teams in the GTE-Pro category, the customer teams Project 1, Gulf Racing and Dempsey Proton Racing field a total of five 2018-spec Porsche 911 RSR racers in the GTE-Am class.
Thirty vehicles campaigned by 20 teams used the official test in Spain to prepare for the 2019/2020 season. The opening round of the season takes place at Silverstone (Great Britain) on 1st September. Porsche tackles the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC) as the title defenders of the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championship.
Comments on the prologue
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “Although the break after Le Mans was short, we were all excited to meet our rivals in the 2019/20 season. Our whole team quickly got used to the new Porsche 911 RSR. We worked on the finer points of the setup here in Barcelona and we feel ready for the first race at Silverstone. I want to thank the entire crew in our Motorsport Centre at Weissach for the great preparation work. And our customer squads have used the two days very effectively to prepare well for the season opener. Bring on Silverstone.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “We had two good days where we tried out a lot of things. Some worked well, others weren’t so great. Still, that’s what such tests are for – to see how changes affect the performance of the new Porsche 911 RSR. We have a little time before the first race at Silverstone which we’ll use to make the final tweaks. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season and I hope that a Porsche will be at the head of the pack again. I certainly don’t mind if it’s me and Gimmi in the number 91 car this year.”
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “I’m very pleased with how the two test days went. We worked through the scheduled programme with our team. Richard and I spent many kilometres out on the track and collected a lot of data, which now needs to be evaluated. We’re heading to Silverstone perfectly prepared. Our aim, of course, is to again win all the titles with Porsche. That’s my motivation.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We managed to tick off all the tasks on our to-do list. The conditions were extreme and the track surface was very hot. It was tough on the tyres. I’m not sure if we’ll encounter such temperatures in the WEC but we’re always gaining new experiences and that’s how we improve. Almost everything on our 911 RSR has changed compared to the predecessor. So it was great to have the whole team working on the new car and learning all about it.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “The tests were good. We made progress with the setup. The new Porsche 911 RSR is great fun to drive. However, the hot temperatures made it difficult to get the timing right for the best tyre performance. We rarely experience such conditions in the WEC. Still, we managed to gain vital information. I’m feeling really motivated for the season, especially because Kévin and I want to prove as the reigning drivers’ champions that we deserve to finish at the very top of the standings at the end of the season.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “Our focus over the two test days was on the new Michelin tyres. We compared the new specifications with the old ones and are very happy. The tyres have become significantly more consistent, which will certainly be helpful for the race distances in the WEC. We didn’t actually work on the setup. Since we’re fielding two cars in the upcoming season compared to last year, it was important to try out new configurations within the team as well as the processes. It all worked wonderfully.”
Thomas Preining (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “We used the prologue to try out a lot of things: how are the tyres, how’s the balance, how does the car handle in different situations? Barcelona is great for such tests because the racetrack has it all: fast and flowing passages combined with tight, slow ones. The track actually puts the tyres under a lot of stress but we’re satisfied and everything went well. We worked through our list and we’re very happy.”
Ben Barker (Porsche 911 RSR #86): “The prologue was really good. We worked predominantly on the new tyres and how they affect the balance of the Porsche 911 RSR. That was very interesting and gave us a lot of insights. The car feels great. These two days were very constructive with a lot of track-time, which is always ideal. We’re heading into the upcoming season feeling very positive.”
Traditionally, the World Sports Car Championship WEC holds a two-day test prior to the start of the new season. These tests allow teams and drivers to prepare for the upcoming races. Moreover, the performance data from the so-called prologue are used to check the balance of performance (BoP), as well as to test measuring methods and practice procedures such as slow zones. With the exception of 2017 (Monza, Italy), these tests have always been held at the start of the season in Le Castellet, France. This year, however, the prologue will be run for the first time on the Spanish Formula One circuit just outside Barcelona. The programme includes two four-hour test sessions on both days.
The Porsche GT Team drivers
In the cockpit of the No. 91 car are Richard Lietz from Austria and Gianmaria Bruni from Italy. The second Porsche 911 RSR (No. 92) is shared by the world drivers’ champions Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark). The driver crews in the five customer-run Porsche 911 RSR racing vehicles will be announced at a later date.
The Porsche 911 RSR
The Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) celebrates its racetrack debut at the official tests prior to the start of the 2019/2020 season of the World Sports Car Championship WEC. The vehicle from Weissach (depending on the restrictor) was presented on the occasion of the Goodwood Festival of Speed (Great Britain) at the beginning of July, 2019. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor, the car for the GTE-Pro class of the FIA WEC received improvements in areas such as driveability, efficiency, ergonomics and ease of servicing. The new Porsche 911 RSR is powered by a six-cylinder boxer engine with a 4.2-litre displacement.
The Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC
In the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC), which was first contested in 2012, sports prototypes and GT vehicles compete in four classes: LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am. They all compete together in one race but are classified separately. The Porsche factory squad contests the GTE-Pro class as the reigning world manufacturers’ champions, while the customer teams Dempsey Proton Racing, Project 1 and Gulf Racing fight for honours in the GTE-Am class.