Craft-Bamboo Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R (991): Laurens Vanthoor (B), Kevin Estre (F), Mathieu Jaminet (F), Suzuka 2018

Race, Intercontinental GT Challenge, round 3, Suzuka 10 Hours, Suzuka/Japan

Craft-Bamboo Racing and Manthey-Racing finished the ten-hour race in Suzuka on positions eleven and twelve with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) crossed the finish line at round three of the Intercontinental GT Challenge in Japan directly in front of Romain Dumas, Frédéric Makowiecki (both France) and Dirk Werner (Germany). Due to a late spin, the Manthey car narrowly missed out on a top ten spot and finished behind the Craft-Bamboo entry. 

Taking up the race from 17th on the grid, Porsche works drivers Estre and Vanthoor with Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet worked their way up the field over the distance. After 275 laps, Vanthoor swept over the finish line just eight seconds ahead of Werner. The German and his works driver teammates Dumas and Makowiecki left their mark in qualifying with sixth place. The race on the 5.807-kilometre Suzuka Circuit in the Mie Prefecture was marked by extreme humidity and high temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius. Of the 35 vehicles to contest the race, 23 were driven exclusively by professional drivers. 

Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Sven Müller (Germany) and Tomonobu Fujii from Japan, who shared driving duties in the cockpit of the number 7 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by D’station Racing, did not see the flag. Bamber, the two-time outright Le Mans winner, retired after around two and a half hours after losing drive. 

In the Pro-Am category for professional and amateur drivers, both Porsche 911 GT3 R completed the full ten-hour distance. Driving for Black Swan Racing, Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Marc Miller scored fourth in their class. Like Manthey-Racing, the American squad contests all rounds of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge. In the second entry (No. 77) of the D’station team, Satoshi Hoshino, Tsubasa Kondo and Jono Lester finished ninth in the Pro-Am class. 

The fourth and final round of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge takes place on 28 October at the Laguna Seca Raceway in California (USA).

Manthey-Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R (911) Romain Dumas (F), Frederic Makowiecki (F), Dirk Werner (D), Suzuka 2018
Manthey-Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R (911) Romain Dumas (F), Frederic Makowiecki (F), Dirk Werner (D), Suzuka 2018

Comments on the race
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “After the good qualifying effort, we’d hoped for a better result to be honest. The performance in the race was not enough to put us on the podium. We now have to take a good look at the areas that need to be improved before the season finale at Laguna Seca.”

Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #991): “This race was tough and, above all, very hot. You win a ten-hour race with consistency, but this time we weren’t consistent enough. Compared to qualifying, we gained some positions but it definitely wasn’t enough.” 

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #991): “Driving here in Japan was a fantastic experience. The fans are truly unique and the racetrack is great fun to drive on. However, the temperatures and the extreme humidity were exhausting. Hopefully it’ll be a bit cooler next year.” 

Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #991): “It was a rollercoaster ride, but ultimately we missed out on a top ten finish. For anything more than a fast lap we didn’t have the pace to match the frontrunners. Moreover, the extreme heat made tyre management more difficult. I’m pleased that Porsche gave me the chance to race at Suzuka. In spite of the result, it was a great experience.”

Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “That was a strange race. We put in our best performance of the entire season, but we still can’t match the pace on the straights. Our setup was good and we were very consistent. But we couldn’t really overtake.” 

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “Our car’s balance was good and it was really great over a stint. But we lost a few seconds during the pit stops. Otherwise we might have finished in the top ten. The extreme temperatures made this one of the most exhausting races I’ve ever driven.”

Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “It was a difficult race all things considered. Our car wasn’t badly setup, but it was virtually impossible to overtake other vehicles today. Unfortunately I spun towards the end and that cost us two positions.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #7): “It’s very annoying that we suffered a defect after my car went over the kerb. Over the course of the weekend we got faster. Shortly before I retired, the car was really well balanced.

Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #7): “After experiencing difficulties with the tyres during the practice session, the car was good to drive – although it was extremely hot. This not only stressed the tyres, but us drivers as well. We could have brought home a good result. The damage to the engine area was simply bad luck.”