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

Race GTE, World Endurance Championship WEC, round 5 in Austin/USA

After a fiercely-contested race at the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC in the USA, Porsche celebrated its fourth podium result of the season. The reigning champions Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) concluded the six-hour race in Austin on second place in the GTE-Pro class. At the wheel of their Porsche 911 RSR, which is based on the high-performance 911 GT3 RS road-legal sports car, the pair were just 4.210 seconds off claiming victory after 173 laps without a single yellow phase.

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

Their teammates Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria), however, were unlucky. A technical problem threw the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR three places down the field, with the pair ultimately taking the flag in seventh place in the GTE-Pro class. In the manufacturers’ classification, Porsche retains second place. In the GTE-Am class, Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Egidio Perfetti (Norway) and Germany’s Laurents Hörr clinched third place in the 2017-spec Porche 911 RSR fielded by the Project 1 squad.

Porsche 911 RSR, Team Project 1 (56), Matteo Cairoli (I), Laurents Hörr (D), Egidio Perfetti (N)

Round five of the WEC in Austin was characterised by different tyre strategies and many duels. Under cloudy skies and in temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, spectators were treated to a six-hour sprint event without a single safety car phase on the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Taking up the race from the second grid spot, Estre and Christensen put in a spirited and flawless drive and were rewarded with second place.

Porsche 911 RSR, Team Project 1 (57), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Felipe Fraga (BR), Ben Keating (USA)-2

However, the race for the Silverstone winners Bruni and Lietz proved disappointing. While running in fourth place, Bruni suddenly found he could not change gears and rolled to the edge of the track. After resetting the electrical system, the gear shifting worked again. Still, to be on the safe side, the team replaced the battery at the next pit stop. The lost time relegated the Porsche 911 RSR back to seventh place in the GTE-Pro class.

Comments on the race

Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “I have mixed feelings about this round. The number 92 car had a very good race, which resulted in a commendable second place. Unfortunately we experienced an electrical problem with our number 91 Porsche 911 RSR. The car stood at the side of the track and we had to change the battery. That cost us several positions and consequently many championship points.”

Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “In terms of tyre choice, we chose a different strategy than most of our competitors today. We raced on used slicks for most of the time while our rivals ran new tyres and vice versa. That’s why we were sometimes ahead and sometimes behind. But we didn’t let that faze us and we simply focussed on the job at hand. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to win and we were only four seconds off, but second place yields us important points for the championship.”

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

Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We got the best out of the car. The team did a flawless job and we drove a steady race. I hope we’ll be at the top of the podium again next time.”

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Unfortunately, technology threw a spanner in the works today. It’s a real shame, especially so close to the end of the race. Still, the new 911 RSR is in its maiden season. We had the speed and the strategy to reach the podium today. We’ll do our utmost to be up the front again at the next race.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Team Project 1 (57), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Felipe Fraga (BR), Ben Keating (USA)

Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “The car ran well right from the start. Our rivals were able to pull clear a little on the straights, but we caught up on the narrow, technically demanding passages. The balance of our 911 RSR was excellent. The tyres still looked great after a double stint, and our strategy was perfect. Unfortunately we were hampered by the electrics. But Kevin and Michael’s good result demonstrate that the car has a lot of potential.”

Egidio Perfetti (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “Basically the race went really well. We definitely could have implemented a different strategy to finish even further up the field, but third place with our new driver line-up is very good and I’m happy with it.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Dempsey Proton Racing (77), Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (D), Ricardo Pera (I)

Race result
GTE-Pro class

1. Thiim/Sörensen (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 173 laps
2. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 172 laps
3. Calado/Pier Guidi (GB/I), Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, 172 laps
7. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 170 laps

GTE-Am class

1. Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam (TR/IRL/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 170 laps
2. Turner/Dalla Lana/Gunn (GB/CDN/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 170 laps
3. Perfetti/Hörr/Cairoli (N/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 170 laps
5. Campbell/Ried/Pera (AUS/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 169 laps
6. Wainwright/Barker/Watson (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 169 laps
9. Preining/de Leener/Curtis (A/B/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, 168 laps
11. Keating/Fraga/Bleekemolen (USA/BRA/NL), Porsche 911 RSR, laps

Edited Porsche factory release.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG