Grid positions four and eight for the Porsche GT Team in Shanghai

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (92), Michael Christensen (DK), Kevin Estre (F), Shanghai 2018

Qualifying, World Endurance Championship WEC, round 5 in Shanghai/China

Frenchman Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen from Denmark have qualified the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR on the fourth grid spot for round five of the World Sports Car Championship WEC. The pair lapped the 5.451-kilometre Shanghai International Circuit in 1:59.031 minutes under cloudy skies and in temperatures of 16 degrees Celsius. At the wheel of the 510 hp No. 91 sister car, Richard Lietz from Austria and the Italian Gianmaria Bruni achieved the eighth quickest time in the GTE-Pro class. Porsche takes up the six-hour race at 4am CET on Sunday as the leader of the manufacturers’ and drivers’ (Estre/Christensen) championship. 

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (91), Gianmaria Bruni (I), Richard Lietz (A), Shanghai 2018

In the GTE-Am category, Dempsey Proton Racing narrowly missed out on pole position, with the No. 77 car just 0.067 seconds shy of the leader. For the race, the cockpit is shared by Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (D) and Porsche-Junior Julien Andlauer (F). The second the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Dempsey Proton Racing qualified on fourth in the class. Sharing driving duties are Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Riccardo Pera (I) and Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (I). The first-time Fuji (Japan) winners, the Project 1 customer team with Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister (D), Patrick Lindsey (USA) and Egidio Perfetti (N), concluded the qualifying session on position seven. Lining up one position behind on the eighth grid spot is the Gulf Racing squad with Michael Wainwright (GB), Ben Barker (GB) and Porsche-Junior Thomas Preining (A).

Qualifying quotes

Pascal Zurlinden, (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “After the rain on Friday we experienced a dry qualifying session today. It wasn’t easy for us as we only had an hour in the morning during the final free practice to find a setup for dry conditions. It wasn’t perfect and ultimately we had to settle for fourth place. Rain is forecast for the race, so anything is possible. We’re very well prepared.”

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “The qualifying was really difficult for us. We had problems in the morning with the balance and couldn’t completely solve it in time for the qualifying. But that probably doesn’t matter, because we’ll be driving in the wet tomorrow. Of course, we’ll do everything we can to get ahead.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (92), Michael Christensen (DK), Kevin Estre (F), Shanghai 2018
Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (92), Michael Christensen (DK), Kevin Estre (F), Shanghai 2018

Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “We learnt a lot today. It was dry for the first time, so it was new and unpredictable for everyone in qualifying. Our first set of tyres somehow didn’t really work. We need to take another look at the data. The second set was normal, and then it all came together well.”

Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “That was a difficult qualifying for us. It’s important not to take too many risks on this fast racetrack, otherwise it could get dangerous. My flying lap was good but not perfect. The wear and tear on the racetrack is high. I wasn’t running new tyres and couldn’t really figure out how far I could push.” 

Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “Both of us did well, despite just missing out on the pole. I think we can be happy with fourth. In terms of the overall classification, it’s not the worst grid position for the race.” 

Porsche 911 RSR, Dempsey Proton Racing (77), Julien Andlauer (F), Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (D), Shanghai 2018
Porsche 911 RSR, Dempsey Proton Racing (77), Julien Andlauer (F), Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (D), Shanghai 2018

Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “Preparing for the qualifying with just one session in the dry was obviously not ideal. But everyone was in the same situation. Although we managed to improve the car significantly, it would seem that the opposition made even more progress. Perhaps they also ran a different tyre compound. If it rains during the race the cards will be reshuffled.”

Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “The car felt great and we only narrowly missed out on claiming pole position. In any case, we had the speed. Christian Ried turned a really good lap and secured the basis for second place. Since our car was very good in the wet on Friday I’m feeling confident for Sunday.”

Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “I really enjoyed my laps. At the end of the day it was only good for fourth in the GTE-Am class. But six hours is a long time and a lot can happen. I’d be very pleased if it rained, because I love driving in such conditions.” 

Qualifying result

GTE-Pro class
1. Mücke/Pla (D/F), Ford GT, 1:58.627 minutes
2. Tomczyk/Catsburg (D/NL), BMW M8 GTE, +0.247 seconds
3. Lynn/Martin (GB/B), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, +0.373 seconds
4. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, +0.404 seconds
5. Blomqvist/Da Costa (GB/E), BMW M8 GTE, +0.428 seconds
6. Sorensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, +0.530 seconds
7. Priaulx/Tincknell (GB/GB), Ford GT, +0.651 seconds
8. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR, +0.659 seconds
9. Pier Guidi/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE EVO, +0.827 seconds
10. Rigon/Bird (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE EVO, +1.062 seconds
11. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Corvette C7.R, +1.601 seconds

GTE-Am class
1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CDN/P/A), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, 2:01.884 minutes
2. Ried/Andlauer/Campbell (D/F/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR, +0.067 seconds
3. Flohr/Castellacci/Fisichella (CH/I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, +0.206 seconds
4. Al Qubaisi/Pera/Cairoli (UAE/I/I), Porsche 911 RSR, +0.231 seconds
5. Yoluc/Adam/Eastwood (TR/GB/GB), Aston Martin Vant. GTE, +0.327 seconds
6. Mok/Sawa/Griffin (MAL/J/IRL), Ferrari 488 GTE, +0.516 seconds
7. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti (D/USA/N), Porsche 911 RSR, +0.545 seconds
8. Wainwright/Barker/Preining (GB/GB/A), Porsche 911 RSR, +2.357 seconds
9. Ishikawa/Beretta/Cheever (J/MC/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, +2.764 seconds