It’s time for Porsche’s factory endurance racing efforts to begin anew in 2021, as the company again partners with Manthey Racing for a two-car assault on the FIA WEC. Ahead of the season kicking off this weekend at the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, the series ran a two-day four-session test to get an idea of BOP and speed for the newly-updated cars. Every car in the series was represented, and Porsche kicked a whole lot of butt in the GTE categories with its long-serving 911 RSR.
The two factory cars covered a combined distance of 2,977 kilometers across the four sessions in Belgium. The team was focused on setup and tire use over the long runs, and optimizing procedures. Both cars managed fast and steady consistent lap times across the full test, and it all culminated in factory ace Kevin Estre clocking the quickest lap of the test with a 2:12.916! To make matters even better, the #91 sister car turned in the second best lap time of the event about two seconds in arrears.
“The prologue was great,” says Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC after two sunny, labor-intensive days in Belgium. “We ticked everything off our program and there were no surprises. Our ideas for the setup worked positively out on the track. That was our priority on Monday. On the second day, we practically ran a full simulation of the race weekend, included qualifying and long stints. The lap times looked good, but they don’t say much yet. All in all, we feel well prepared for the start of the 2021 season.”
Customer squads in GTE Am entered a total of five 911 RSRs. For cost reasons, this class is only allowed to use the 2019 specification RSR. Project 1 Racing suffered an accident on Monday morning, and the car wasn’t able to be repaired quickly enough to get back on track for the second day of testing. In fact, the wrecked Project 1 car will not be able to race this weekend in the 6 Hour event. That said, all other teams logged significant mileage and learned a lot about their new cars.
Drivers’ comments on the prologue
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Two things were at the center of our work — figuring out the best possible vehicle balance and perfecting the interaction between the drivers and the new race engineer. We made noticeable progress in both areas. We’ve completed the planned program and we feel well prepared. My teammate Richie put in a strong long run. It looks promising, but there are still a couple of things that could be improved in the lead-up to race day.”
Neel Jani (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “The prologue ran really well for us. We drove a total of 220 laps with our number 92 car and tried a few new setup solutions. In the process, we learned a lot. Our simulated racing stints looked good, so we head to the start of the season this weekend feeling positive. We were extremely productive during the two days of testing and, for me personally, it was an important experience because I’ve never driven the Porsche 911 RSR at Spa-Francorchamps before.”
Result GTE-Pro class (all sessions combined)
1. Estre/Jani (F/CH), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 2:12.916 minutes
2. Bruni/Lietz (I/A), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 2:14.214 minutes
3. Pier Guidi/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 2:14.313 minutes
Result GTE-Am class (all sessions combined)
1. Lacorte/Sernagiotto/Fuoco (I/I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #47, 2:14.509 minutes
2. Perfetti/Cairoli/Pera (N/I/I), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 2:14.736 minutes
3. Ried/Evans/Campbell (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 2:14.872 minutes