World Endurance Championship WEC, Prologue in Monza, Italy – GT
The Porsche GT Team is well prepared for the first race of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC in Silverstone on 16 April. At the final rehearsal for the start of the season – the official Prologue in the Autodromo Nazionale Monza – the two new Porsche 911 RSR successfully completed a comprehensive test schedule over the weekend. The 911 RSR with the starting number 91, shared by Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki, covered a total of 1.292 kilometres. Their team colleagues Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) completed 1.280 kilometres.
The Grand Prix circuit in Lombardy not only offered the ideal conditions to work on the tyres and the setup, but also threw changing weather conditions at the 27 teams: The cars faced sunshine and rain with the corresponding temperature fluctuations.
The 911 RSR, with which Porsche returns to the WEC this season with a factory team, successfully completed the Prologue without any significant problems. They delivered a strong performance on the storied racetrack, on which Porsche once celebrated many great victories at the famous 1,000-kilometre races. In four of the five practice sessions, Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre posted the best time in the GTE-Pro class. Their team colleagues Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz set second place two times. The Porsche customer teams campaigning the 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class also did well. Gulf Racing with the all-British driver lineup of Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker and Nicholas Foster as well as Dempsey Proton Racing with Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Christian Ried (Germany) and Marvin Dienst (Germany), also clocked the top times.
Comments on the Prologue
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “The dress rehearsal for the season-opener at Silverstone was a success. We were able to complete our test programme exactly as we’d anticipated, turning more laps than any other competitor. It was important for us that we were able to prepare for all possible racing situations here. And this worked well. The performance of the 911 RSR is hard to gauge, however the feedback from the drivers was very positive. They’re all pleased with how the car handles. We want to take this good momentum with us to Silverstone. It will definitely be exciting there.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “Our goal for this Prologue was to generally prepare the driver, car and team for the start of the season in Silverstone. We were able to implement our schedule as planned. During the second session on Sunday we focussed on worked specifically on preparing for that first race. We concentrated on important issues such as trying out double stints on one set of tyres. In this regard, too, we were able to gain new insights. The pit stops also ran very well. We’re already looking good as a team. We’ll do the final touches in the free practice at Silverstone. We’re ready for the first race.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “This was a very important test for us. Every team was in racing mode. We tried several different setups for Silverstone and these worked well. Monza was also an ideal opportunity to integrate the many new team members into the squad. Now we look forward to our return as a works team to the WEC and we can hardly wait until the season finally begins at Silverstone.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “We’ve gained a better understanding of our new 911 RSR. This test was very positive and brought us a big step forward. And the team has grown even closer over the last two days. I’ve had a year away from the WEC so, of course, I’m excited to be back again. The fact that the first race is contested in Silverstone, on one of my favourite racetracks, just adds to the excitement.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “Monza was a very good test for us. We learned a great deal, for instance, about the balance of our 911 RSR. We are pretty much already in the racing rhythm for Silverstone. Everything ran very well here, so we really should be strong at the season-opening round, as well.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “These two days of testing yielded a lot for us as a team. The car felt very good and the fact that we set the best times in four sessions is a great motivation as we head into the season. This is the first time Michael and I have worked together under competition conditions. That worked very well and the understanding with the new engineers has become even better. As far as we’re concerned, the season can begin.”
Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “It was a great experience that the Prologue for my first WEC season took place on my home turf. Many of my friends were here to support me and wish me luck. I’m proud that Porsche and Dempsey Proton Racing have given me this great chance. I will work hard to repay their trust by achieving good performances.”