Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars after the start in Spa with headline saying “Pereira wins 300th Anniversary Race”

9/1/2021

Even the clouds over Spa shed tears of joy for Pereira.

The weather at Spa-Francorchamps is notoriously fickle, even in August, and when the teams arrived for Round 5 of the 2021 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup it seemed likely from the outset that rain would play a part in the proceedings. And so it proved to be!

Friday’s 45-minute Practice Session was dry, with the sun making occasionally successful attempts to break through the clouds, but it would turn out to be the only dry running of the weekend for the teams from all over Europe that converged on the longest, but most beautiful circuit on the season’s calendar. Despite the uncertain weather, Spa-Francorchamps is without doubt popular with drivers and spectators alike and there were 32 cars entered for this, the 300th-ever Porsche Supercup event, with a few changes from the previous round in Hungary.

This unique combination of ambitious young drivers, experienced VIP guest drivers and enthusiastic ProAms has been one of the secrets to the Supercup’s success since 1993. We can also be proud of the fact that the best teams from the national Porsche Carrera Cups line up on the grid in the Supercup.

Oliver SchwabProject Manager of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup

#17 Harry King (GBR/Parker Revs Motorsport) was back having missed a couple of rounds with clashing commitments in the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain, and his team-mates would be #36 Loek Hartog (NLD/Parker Revs Motorsport) and #18 Garry Findlay (GBR/Parker Revs Motorsport), completing a strong line-up for the British team.

 

Two drivers that missed Hungary, #16 Simone Iaquinta (ITA/Dinamic Motorsport) and #9 (Lucas Groeneveld (NLD/GP Elite) were back in action and looking to add to their championship points.

 

Making his debut in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup was #33 Alessandro Ghiretti (FRA/Martinet by Alméras), the 19-year-old joining five other cars from (broadly) the same outfit.

Race Weekend Recap Spa-Francorchamps, Round 5

Grid: looks familiar.

At first sight, the grid had a familiar feel to it, with reigning champion and 2021 points leader #25 Larry ten Voorde (NLD/Team GP Elite) scoring his third pole position of the season, ahead of #3 Dylan Pereira (LUX/BWT Lechner Racing) and #20 Jaxon Evans (NZL/Martinet by Alméras), lying second in the championship points standings.

 

However, the grid positions were set in a bizarre 30-minute qualifying session on Saturday, which began wet with conditions steadily worsening throughout, making improvements by anyone virtually impossible.

Larry ten Voorde driving his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during Free Practice

Qualifying: wet and worse.

Most of the front-runners completed only two or three flying laps before stopping at the pits and calling it a day. Despite forecasts suggesting a 60% chance of rain for the race, very few drivers took the opportunity to go out once it became clear that conditions would not get any better: #8 Fabio Scherer (CHE/ FACH AUTO TECH) and #27 Roar Lindland (NOR/Nebulus Racing by Huber) being the only two exceptions.

Sections of the racetrack such as Eau Rouge or Blanchimont are hugely challenging even in sunny conditions. The adrenaline rush is even greater in the rain.

#3 Dylan Pereira(LUX/BWT Lechner Racing)

With the track as treacherous as it was, it was extra-important not to overstep track limits in the early stages of the session, and there were eight drivers by the end of qualifying whose best times were disqualified. Most significant of these was #29 Laurin Heinrich (DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber), who set a time good enough for the front row, but who ended up tenth on the grid.

 

After the qualifying results were issued, a five-place penalty was given to #11 Florian Latorre (FRA/CLRT), as a result of exceeding track limits in the Practice Session too often, which left championship rivals Ten Voorde and Evans separated at the front of the grid by Dylan Pereira. The 510PS 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars may be identical, but it was reassuring to see three different teams represented in the first three grid slots.

Several Porsche 911 GT3 Cup lining up in the pit lane during the Porsche Supercup race at Spa-Francorchamps 2021

Race: no respite from the rain.

Sunday morning’s conditions were, if anything, worse than what the teams experienced on Saturday during qualifying. If it was any consolation, at least the track was uniformly wet, although quite why Fabio Scherer elected to go to the grid on slicks defied logic. He was in the pit lane at the end of the formation lap for wet Michelin tyres, like the rest of the field.

 

As the red lights went out, Ten Voorde and Pereira both made good starts, but Pereira got into his stride a little quicker and saw his chance to grab the lead – they headed through La Source side-by-side. Further back, Florian Latorre, who had made an awful start, was nudged into a spin by #7 Marius Nakken (NOR/FACH AUTO TECH) and ended up facing the wrong way. The Norwegian was penalised 10-seconds for his misdemeanour.

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars after the start of the Porsche Supercup race in Spa with their headlights on in the rain

Drama at Raidillon – championship turned on its head!

Larry ten Voorde and Dylan Pereira headed down the hill towards Eau Rouge still side by side; Pereira perilously close to the grass on the left-hand side, but bravely hanging on around the outside as they headed up the hill. There was the briefest contact as they headed into Raidillon, but it was enough to send Ten Voorde into a high-speed spin. Somehow the Dutchman managed to collect it all together without hitting anyone, and although #35 Marvin Klein (FRA/CLRT) came close to both Ten Voorde and the wall, he managed just to squeeze through.

I was on a line offering less grip and that made me slide.

#25 Larry ten Voorde(NLD/Team GP Elite)

With Latorre being stuck on the start and finish straight for too long, the Safety Car was deployed, and Ten Voorde was back in 14th position. His main championship rival, Jaxon Evans, had also been delayed as he backed off and lost momentum on the Kemmel straight, dropping to eighth place in the process.


 


Those who had kept out of trouble had moved up the order: in particular #6 Christopher Zöchling (DEU/FACH AUTO TECH) to fourth, from ninth on the grid and Harry King to sixth from eleventh on the grid.


 


The Safety Car came in at the end of lap 2, and both Zöchling and King were on the move once again, both managing overtaking moves around the outside line at the end of Kemmel Straight. In only his second Supercup race, it is possible that inexperience cost sixteen-year-old #32 Morris Schuring (NLD/GP Elite) two places: having been overtaken by King, he was passed by Laurin Heinrich at Blanchimont later on the same lap.


 


Meanwhile at the chicane, Jaxon Evans found himself under pressure from, and then tagged by, an over-aggressive #28 Leon Köhler (DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber), a move that the stewards determined was worth a 10-second time penalty for the German.

Three Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars drive side by side through a corner in the rain at Spa during the Supercup race 2021

Lechner dominating, battles behind.

As the race began to settle into a pattern, it was Dylan Pereira and #2 Ayhancan Güven (TUR/BWT Lechner Racing) leading the way, with Zöchling next up, but dropping away at more than a second per lap. #24 Max van Splunteren (NLD/Team GP Elite) was fourth, soon to be overtaken by the hard-charging Heinrich, with #28 Leon Köhler in sixth.

 

By the next lap, young Morris Schuring had regained his composure and was putting pressure on Harry King, who had lost a place to Laurin Heinrich. As Schuring tried to go up the inside of King at Stavelot, the two cars touched, and King was spun towards the barriers. He rejoined right at the back.

 

Ahead of these two youngsters, the battles were coming thick and fast, with Laurin Heinrich continuing to impress the rain-drenched fans. On lap 5, he drafted past Max van Splunteren at the end of the Kemmel straight, but then had to be brave through Les Combes, to finally complete the move into fourth place as they went into Rivage.

 

By the next lap, Leon Köhler was all over the back of van Splunteren, who had also to hold off a challenge from Marvin Klein, who himself had to take to the escape road at Les Combes after leaving his braking too late. He rejoined without losing any time, and as they went into the double left-hander at Pouhon, Köhler was able to pass van Splunteren for fifth place on the road.

Ayhancan Güven chases Dylan Pereira during the race for the battle for P1 in the bus stop chicane at Spa-Francorchamps

Up at the front meanwhile, Ayhancan Güven was closing in on Dylan Pereira, the two Lechner-run cars circulating less than a second apart, but continuing to draw away at a second per lap from the rest of the field. Zöchling was having a relatively quiet race in third place, but being closed upon by the two Nebulus Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars of Heinrich and Köhler.

On a wet track, I take the kerbs more aggressively to get a more direct racing line.

#2 Ayhancan Güven(TUR/BWT Lechner Racing)

With three laps to go, the Safety Car was deployed again following an incident at the chicane: ProAm points leader Roar Lindland tried to go up the inside of #21 Clément Mateu (FRA/Pierre Martinet by Alméras), but ended up tipping him into a spin. Unfortunately, Mateu did not look before rejoining the track and drove straight into the side of his team-mate #22 Stéphane Denoual (FRA/ Pierre Martinet by Alméras), eliminating both cars from the race.

Mateu crashes into the driver's side of his team-mate Denoual's 911 GT3 Cup after his spin on the wet track in Spa

More Safety Car Periods with three laps to go.

For some reason, Mateu left his car half-blocking the pit lane entrance, from where it was unceremoniously removed by a mini-mobile crane, and enabling the Safety Car to pull in to the pits at the end of its next lap.


 


It wasn’t the best of restarts for Pereira, who allowed Güven to get alongside him through La Source and down the hill. The Porsche Junior driver decided to lift first for Eau Rouge, and allow the Luxembourger the line unchallenged. A similar battle was going on behind for third place between Christopher Zöchling and Laurin Heinrich, with Köhler close behind. At the end of the Kemmel straight, both Heinrich and Köhler slipped past Zöchling, but of course there was still that 10-second penalty to take into account for Köhler.


 


Before the leaders reached the start/finish line at the end of the lap, the Safety Car had to be deployed again, as Alessandro Ghiretti was stuck in the gravel at Stavelot. The 20-year-old having his first outing in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup had been in contact with Simone Iaquinta, as the rain fell more heavily in the closing two laps of the race and found himself with nowhere to go. It had not been a good weekend for Alméras.

Zoechling driving ahead of several other Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the rain during the Supercup race in Spa 2021

Chequered Flag behind the Safety Car.

Thus, the race ended behind the Safety Car – it pulled off at the end of the final lap, no overtaking allowed. A race full of incidents and overtaking, but what of the championship contenders? Larry ten Voorde benefitted from the late Safety Car bunching the field up and was awarded 8th place, with Jaxon Evans in 12th. Leon Köhler’s 10-second penalty left him in 15th and Florian Latorre, fourth in the standings before the race, ended up last in 28th position overall.

I started from tenth place and finished on third – something like this can only happen in a wet race.

#29 Laurin Heinrich(DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber)

In the Rookie Classification, the honours went to an inspired Laurin Heinrich, ahead of #19 Dorian Boccolacci (FRA/Martinet by Alméras) and Harry King. As a result, Heinrich now has a useful lead in the standings.


 


In the ProAm Classification, it was a win for #5 Nicolas Misslin (MCO/Lehner Racing Middle East) extending his lead in the standings, from #15 Philipp Sager (AUT/Dinamic Motorsport SRL) and #23 Aaron Mason (GBR/Pierre Martinet by Alméras), recovering from a spin early in the race. Roar Lindland had finished second in class on the road, but also suffered a post-race penalty as a result of his part in the incident at the Bus Stop chicane earlier in the race.

Dylan Pereira raises the victory wreath of the 300th Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race in Spa with both hands

A look back and forward.

Truly this was a race to remember to celebrate the 300th Porsche Supercup race. The first race took place in 1993 at Imola, supporting the San Marino Grand Prix, and now 29 seasons later, the series is still going strong and has produced many remarkable drivers.


 


A great result and first ever overall podium for Rookie Laurin Heinrich, who drove with formidable skill to stay out of trouble and complete lots of clean overtaking.


 


With three rounds of the 2021 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup remaining, the championship is still wide open – Larry ten Voorde’s lead over Jaxon Evans has been cut to 20 points, who has a similar advantage over Dylan Pereira, who moves up to third in the table after his Spa win.


 


The best news of all though is that the next round of the championship will be next weekend at Zandvoort – a new circuit and a new chapter in the story of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. We are hoping for a thrilling race through the banked turns in the dunes!

Three ProAm drivers stand on the podium during the ceremony of the 300th Porsche Supercup race in Spa-Francorchamps
Fans in rain gear sitting near the forest at the track of Spa-Francorchamps during the 300th Porsche Supercup race
An aerial view of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the rain. The green forest is visible in the background
The rear of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with heavy water splashes during the 300th Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race in Spa
The feet of a driver wearing plastic rain covers over his shoes shortly before the start of the Supercup race, Spa
Harry King in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup passing Eau Rouge in Spa-Francorchamps during Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup 2021
Larry ten Voorde driving his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during Free Practice
Several Porsche 911 GT3 Cup lining up in the pit lane during the Porsche Supercup race at Spa-Francorchamps 2021
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars after the start of the Porsche Supercup race in Spa with their headlights on in the rain
Three Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars drive side by side through a corner in the rain at Spa during the Supercup race 2021
Ayhancan Güven chases Dylan Pereira during the race for the battle for P1 in the bus stop chicane at Spa-Francorchamps
Mateu crashes into the driver's side of his team-mate Denoual's 911 GT3 Cup after his spin on the wet track in Spa
Zoechling driving ahead of several other Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the rain during the Supercup race in Spa 2021
Dylan Pereira raises the victory wreath of the 300th Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race in Spa with both hands

Overall Classification Round 5 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, Spa-Francorchamps

Pos
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
Entry No
25
20
3
2
29
28
19
6
11
4
24
1
12
26
16
7
17
10
9
14
5
27
22
23
15
21
18
Driver
Larry ten Voorde
Jaxon Evans
Dylan Pereira
Ayhancan Güven
Laurin Heinrich
Leon Köhler
Dorian Boccolacci
Christopher Zöchling
Florian Latorre
Tio Ellinas
Max van Splunteren
Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer
Steven Palette
Jesse van Kuijk
Simone Iaquinta
Marius Nakken
Harry King
Daan van Kuijk
Lucas Groeneveld
Lodovico Laurini
Nicolas Misslin
Roar Lindland
Stéphane Denoual
Aaron Mason
Philipp Sager
Clément Mateu
Michael Crees
Nation
NLD
NZL
LUX
TUR
DEU
DEU
FRA
DEU
FRA
CYP
NLD
FRA
FRA
NLD
ITA
NOR
GBR
NLD
NLD
ITA
MCO
NLD
FRA
GBR
AUT
FRA
GBR
Total points
101
81
57
54
53
49
46
44
41
39
32
25
17
17
14
11
9
8
5
5
4
2
1
0
0
0
0
Grand Prix de Monaco Round 1
25
20
5
0 (DNF)
2
10
17
14
12
8
0
0 (DNC)
6
0
9
4
7
0 (DNC)
1
3
0 (DNC)
0 (DNC)
0 (DNC)
0 (DNC)
0
0
0 (DNC)
Großer Preis der Steiermark Round 2
25
10
0
20
8
17
14
9
0
4
12
7
0
6
5
3
-
0
0
1
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
Großer Preis von Österreich Round 3
17
25
20
0
14
9
5
7
12
10
0 (DNC)
8
4
6
0 (DNC)
0 (DNC)
0 (DNC)
0 (DNS)
3
0 (DNC)
2
0
1
0
0
0
0
Magyar Nagydij Round 4
25
20
7
14
12
10
0
0 (DNC)
17
9
8
6
-
5
-
4
-
3
-
1
2
0
0
0
0
0
-
Belgian Grand Prix Round 5
9
6
25
20
17
3
10
14
0
8
12
4
7
0
0
0
2
5
1
-
0
0
0 (DNF)
0
0
0 (DNF)
-
Overall Classification
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