Any race event that ends with four Porsche 911 RSRs on the podium in two different classes is a very good race event indeed. The 8 Hours of Bahrain was the final race of the FIA WEC 2019/20 season, and Porsche absolutely dominated proceedings by delivering a pair of factory-backed GTE Pro machines to a 1-2 finish after eight hours of tough running. Porsche’s squad of incredibly talented drivers kept the Ferrari and Aston Martin contingent at bay during the race to come home victorious and close out the season on a high note. To start the race from pole and finish first is a truly laudable effort.
This hot and dry day that melted into a cooler and waning evening proved that tire wear and compound strategy was absolutely paramount. Starting from pole position, the #92 car of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen maintained the lead throughout the entire eight hours, save for a brief relinquishing of the lead when Estre came in to fuel the car at the first pit stop, and even then only ceding to the #91 sister car of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni. Porsche held the top step of the race from green to checkers. Even with a split strategy, both Porsches came home on the podium.
It’s fair to say the mid-engine 911 RSR was the chassis to have on this particular day, as it served well in both the GTE Pro class and the GTE Am class, providing grip and power to the entire field of Porsche runners that was unmatched by any others. The Project 1 squad of Jörg Bergmeister, Larry ten Voorde, and Egidio Perfetti took the GTE Am class victory with a great tire strategy. By running a set of scuffed tires in qualifying, which allowed the Project 1 car to start the race from 4th on the grid, the team saved an extra set of sticker Michelins to run during the race, which proved prophetic and delivered the team its win. The Bahrain circuit is particularly known to be abrasive and harsh on tires, so having that extra little bit of tire to push late in the race gave the team what it needed to win. Jaxon Evans, Marco Holzer, and Khaled Al Qubaisi brought home the Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche third in the GTE Am category, giving Porsche four total podiums from the same event.
Comments on the race
Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “A fantastic race – all in for Porsche! Pole position, first and second places in the Pro category and first in the Am class, what more do we want? The balance of the cars was super and, unlike the others, we didn’t have any problems. We’ve experienced a long, tough year with several setbacks. This makes it all the more wonderful that we can head into the winter break with this success. It was ‘summa cum laude’ effort from the entire team. We’ll take this motivation with us and do our utmost to build on this performance at Sebring next year.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “This was a very important success for Porsche. Unfortunately, we were out of contention for the championship but we knew this before the weekend. We defended first place at the start and led the field on almost every lap – although our huge advantage shrunk due to the safety car phase at halftime. After that, we had to work hard to eke out an advantage again. There were several different tyre strategies. The sister car kept a fresh set more for the race; we wanted to drive on the tyres as consistently as possible through the race. Ultimately, things got pretty exciting again between us. I’m very, very proud of this team.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “A wonderful race, I’m happy for the Porsche Team. First and second: We did everything right with a great strategy. I’m very proud of the way we tackled this weekend. Saving a fresh set of tyres for the race was the key factor. The fact that we could then bring this result home safely for the team is ok, because that’s what racing is about.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “What can I say? I assured Egidio before the race that we’d win here. He and Larry did a great job. My stint in the middle of the race was actually pretty easy. The Porsche was running well, perfect teamwork – a well-deserved victory.”
Jaxon Evans (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “Words fail me right now. My debut in the WEC was great fun. We knew after the free practice that we had a fast car. In qualifying, we saved a set of fresh tyres. It’s wonderful that we made it onto the podium.”
1. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 235 laps
2. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 235 laps
3. Rigon/Molina (I/E), Ferrari 488 GTE #71, 235 laps
4. Westbrook/Martin (GB/B), Aston Martin Vantage #97, + 1 lap
5. Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage #95, + 2 laps
6. Calado/Serra (GB/BRA), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, + 4 laps
1. Bergmeister/Perfetti/ten Voorde (D/N/NL), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 232 laps
2. Perrodo/Collard/Nielsen (F/F/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #83, 232 laps
3. Evans/Holzer/Al Qubaisi (NZ/D/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 232 laps
5. Wainwright/Barker/Picariello (GB/GB/B), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 232 laps
6. Keating/Pereira/Bleekemolen (USA/L/NL), Porsche 911 RSR #57, + 1 lap
7. Ried/Pera/Olsen (D/I/N), Porsche 911 RSR #77, + 1 lap