A Swiss and a Frenchman meet in Italy. What sounds like the beginning of a bad joke was our recipe for success at the WEC race weekend in Monza. But let's start from the beginning:
it was already evident in qualifying that our two RSRs were in top form – even though Monza was new territory for the WEC, with extreme challenges such as the constant braking from around 270 to 70km/h before the chicane. But the endless analysis and adjustment marathon of our crew paid off - and yielded results: pole position went to the team of Estre and Jani in the number 92 911 RSR. Best conditions for the race.
Not for the faint-hearted.
And what a race it was: Kévin Estre showed right from the start that he had come to win. At 30 degrees in the shade, he battled lap after lap with heat in the cockpit, extreme tarmac temperatures and the belligerent #51 – a Ferrari from AF Corse. But Estre is Estre. And used driving experience and a lot of courage to parry all attacks from the other manufacturer with the prancing horse in its coat of arms. This mixture of qualities was also needed by his team partner Neel Jani. After the local heroes prepared to elbow their way to the top, our Swiss Le Mans winner switched to attack mode and duelled for every centimetre of track, lap after lap. And came out on top: after six hours, the #92 crossed the finish line in first place in the GT-Pro class – taking Neel and Kévin back to the top of the Drivers' Championship.
Spun. Not shaken.
A look at the bare figures shows how close the captivating head-to-head race for first place was: the gap between our #92 and the Ferrari was never more than six seconds throughout the race.
And what about the sister car, start number 91? It almost seemed as if #92 harnessed all the luck for themselves. Gianmaria Bruni was well on his way to a double victory for our works team – until a GT-AM car spun in front of him, crashing into his RSR. But Bruni and Richard Lietz could not be stopped. They showed fighting spirit. And they fought their way back into the race with their 911 RSR, which sustained damage to the front – passing the second AF Corse Ferrari. The result: third place.
The outlook? Rosy.
By the way: Monza is certainly comparable to Le Mans with its high proportion of full throttle. Surely a sign of things to come in the season's highlight on 21 August. We can't wait.