6/16/2021

An emotional rollercoaster for the Porsche team. WEC 8h of Portimão.

The Algarve (Portugal) hosted the World Endurance Championship for the first time. At 4,684km, this relatively short circuit is hidden behind a small hilltop and features lots of bends, posing a particular challenge for teams, while the course resembles a real rollercoaster. So it's no surprise that the record pole-setter from Spa-Francorchamps felt entirely at home on this Portuguese big-dipper. Once again, Kévin Estre catapulted the 515PS 911 RSR #92 into pole position on the grid. But rising asphalt temperatures put an end to the chosen tyre strategy. After eight hours, the two works 911 vehicles finished in third and fourth place.

Strong performance in qualifying.

But let's start with the exhilaration of Saturday evening: the team with start number #92 finished in pole position, with a strong qualifying lap of just 1:37.986 minutes. Just as in the season highlight at Le Mans, the works race car team was completed by a third driver. Aside from polesetters, Kévin Estre and Neel Jani, Michael Christensen was also at the wheel of the #92. The drivers of its sister car #91, Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki, claimed third place on the grid. In the GTE Am class, Porsche dominated the front row. Egidio Perfetti in his Project 1 911 RSR #56 was just 0.045 seconds faster than Christian Ried in the Dempsey-Proton #77.

Strong start to the race. Weak tyres.

When the starting pistol of the eight-hour race was fired on Sunday, Kévin Estre promptly pulled away in the Porsche 911 RSR #92. A perfect start to the race, which the Frenchman extended into an eight-second lead during the first hour. Its sister car delivered a perfect defence strategy, confidently moving into third. But after a little under two hours, the #91 was forced into the pits with tyre failure. Following that, both 911 RSRs lost the optimum performance window as air and asphalt temperatures rose. The chosen tyre strategy prevented the drivers from pushing their limits, resulting in them falling behind. However, the works team managed by Manthey changed tack and gave chase. At the beginning of the final hour of the race, all four opponents in the GTE Pro were within one lap. Kévin Estre had taken over the #92 from his teammate, Michael Christensen, and moved up into second. But he was to be ultimately denied second place, due to a full-course-yellow half an hour before the end of the race. The Ferrari vehicles were able to complete their final pit stop under FCY, whereby the two Porsche race cars would have made it to the pits just ahead of them under normal race conditions.

Pursuit rewarded with second place.

At the start of the race, the Project 1 pole-setter failed to maintain its lead. After the first hour, the car was in fourth position. When Matteo Cairoli took over the controls, however, a remarkable pursuit began, even putting him in the lead. However, a ten-second pit-stop penalty scuppered his chances of a win. Ultimately, the team celebrated second place in the GTE Am class. Unfortunately, the 911 RSR #77 driven by Porsche works driver, Matt Campbell, team owner, Christian Ried, and Jaxon Evans had to prematurely say goodbye to its dreams of victory. Following a collision with a prototype vehicle incurred through no fault of its own, the car had to be rolled into the pits and was beyond repair. Its sister car #88 driven by Dominique Bastien, Marco Seefried and Porsche Young Professional, Julien Andlauer, also had to contend with low battery charge at the start of the race and was ultimately unable to improve on tenth place. With its trio of British drivers, Michael Wainwright, Benjamin Barker and Tom Gamble, GR Racing finished the Portuguese eight-hour race one place ahead.

GTE Pro class results at a glance:

3rd Estre/Jani/Christensen (FR/CH/DK), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 279 laps
4th Bruni/Lietz/Makowiecki (IT/AT/FR), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 278 laps

GTE Am class results at a glance:

2nd Perfetti/Cairoli/Pera (NO/IT/IT), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 274 laps
9th Wainwright/Barker/Gamble (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 271 laps
10th Bastien/Seefried/Andlauer (USA/DE/FR), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 269 laps

On to round 3 in the 'Temple of Speed'.

In a little over a month, or on 18 July to be precise, the World Endurance Championship elite will meet in the 'Temple of Speed'. In the third race of the season, the teams will compete for six hours at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
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