After two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship, Porsche leads the GTE Pro category in points following a win at Silverstone with a podium place at the 6-hour race in Fuji. Michael Christensen paired with Kevin Estre to come home in second position this weekend in their #92 Porsche 911 RSR. With this successful result, the pair have also moved into the lead of the drivers' championship. Their teammates Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz had the absolute opposite race, starting from pole position and finishing 6th. The #91 car suffered all race with misfiring issues, an untimely tire puncture, and a drive-through penalty. Meanwhile, in the GTE Am category, the Porsche-driving Project 1 team of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, and Felipe Fraga came home in third position to give Porsche two different class podiums in the same race.
Christensen and Estre mounted a comprehensive assault against the GTE Pro competition, starting the race from last place in class and climbing through the field to an impressive 2nd position finish. With quick laps and a smart pit stop strategy (plus a bit of luck) the team worked well through the 6-hour race. The race began, in typical Fuji fashion, under safety car for heavy rain. That weather cleared up for the first couple of hours, but came back with a vengeance in the 3rd and 4th hours of action. With the right tire strategy and impressive Porsche rain driving dynamics, the pair of drivers were in the cat bird seat for the finish, and pitted at exactly the right time during the race's caution periods.
The GTE Am Project 1 team had a very similar story, starting from dead last on the grid. The trio gave a spirited chase through the entirety of the 6-hours, but ultimately the Aston Martins were better suited to the Fuji track, and won in both classes.
Comments on the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Motorsport): “After the one-two success at Silverstone we’ve now finished on the podium at Fuji with our new Porsche 911 RSR. We’re still at the top of the manufacturers’ championship, and a Porsche duo is also leading the driver’s classification. Our balance sheet looks good. We’re now feeling confident and full of excitement for the upcoming race in China.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “The overall result with both vehicles doesn’t really meet our expectations, but we’re pleased about second place for the number 92 car. In the first two races of the season, we’ve secured a one-two at Silverstone as well as a podium result and pole position at Fuji. That’s a great start for our new Porsche 911 RSR. We’re heading to the next races feeling highly motivated.”
Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “Pole position on Saturday, second in the race on Sunday, we can be very pleased with this. Everything went according to plan with our number 92 car, but the number 91 vehicle was plagued with troubles. Damage from a puncture, a drive-through penalty and misfiring – it seems pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I hope that we’ve used up all the bad luck for the rest of the season. We’ll be back in full force again at Shanghai.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “After the super pole position on Saturday, we were disappointed with how the race went for us on Sunday. Our pace was good at the beginning but unfortunately the penalty, tyre problem and misfiring relegated us to sixth place. We’ll now take a very good look at this and fix the problem.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “When you start from the last grid spot and cross the finish line in second, then you’ve definitely done everything right. Our strategy worked perfectly, we got the absolute maximum out of it. Thanks to this podium result, Kévin and I are now leading the world championship. We’re certainly can’t complain about that.”
1. Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 211 laps
2. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 210 laps
3. Lynn/Martin (GB/B), Aston Martin Vantage, 210 laps
6. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 208 laps
1. Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam (TR/IRL/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 208 laps
2. Perrodo/Collard/Nielsen (F/F/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE, 207 laps
3. Keating/Fraga/Bleekemolen (USA/BR/NL), Porsche 911 RSR, 207 laps
5. Campbell/Ried/Pera (AUS/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 207 laps
7. Perfetti/Heinemeier Hansson/Cairoli (N/DK/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 206 laps
8. Wainwright/Barker/Watson (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 204 laps
9. Preining/de Leener/Hoshino (A/B/J), Porsche 911 RSR, 198 laps