After finding success in one of the hottest events of the season — with air temps in the mid-90s all day — Porsche now leads the constructor’s championship in the GTE Pro category over competition from Ferrari. The six-hour race in Bahrain was absolutely dominated by the flat six-powered crew, securing a one-two finish with the #92 car of Neel Jani and Kevin Estre finishing just ahead of the #91 car piloted by Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni. Customer teams in the GTE Am category from Dempsey-Proton Racing and Project 1 also found success in Bahrain, taking second and third right behind the class-winning Aston Martin.
“It was a difficult weekend because there was a lot of pressure – we definitely had to perform today,” explains Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC. “We needed to earn maximum points in order to stay in the fight for the championship heading to the final round. It worked. I’d like to thank all the mechanics, engineers and drivers – that was a perfect performance. From the outside, perhaps this double victory looked easy – it was anything but that. The tyres had to endure long stints in intense heat. It always hangs on the knife’s edge. We balanced this beautifully. Now we go up against our rivals on an equal footing for the big finale next weekend. I’m really looking forward to it!”
After locking out the front row of the grid in qualifying, the Porsche crew kept their cool through the heat of the day. For most of the day the Porsches were struggling more with their tires than with the competition. With track temps well into the triple digits, the sticky Michelins were rendered slippy, and the drivers had to manage their grip over the long runs. Both Porsche teams managed to keep their tires under themselves for the full run, better than the competition anyway, and took it to the finish in lock step. Less than seven tenths of a second separated the two Porsches at the finish line after 6 hours of racing.
With just one more round of the championship remaining, and all of this happening at Bahrain again in just a weeks time, Porsche has secured the lead in the constructors’ championship, and the pairing of Jani and Estre have managed to slice the lead of the drivers’ championship down to a single point. The next round in Bahrain will be an even longer eight hour event, and it sure looks like Porsche has a handle on this track.
Drivers’ comments after the race
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “That was a very critical victory for us in the No. 92 car and an extremely important one-two result for Porsche. This gives us every chance to fight for the title at the finale. As a team, we gave a perfect performance. I’d like to thank our teammates in the sister car for not making life too difficult for us. That really helped. Now I’m looking forward to the decisive race. We definitely want to achieve a similar top result again.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “It was crucial to preserve the tyres over the distance. Bahrain is extremely demanding so you have to take care. If you overexploit the peak grip at the start on fresh tyres, you pay the price at the end of the stint. That’s why our focus was always on not putting too much energy into the tyres. This worked well. We also decided not to fight against our team colleagues because that would have cost us a lot of time. From my point of view, this was a perfect race for Porsche.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “We finally achieved our first podium result of the season. I take my hat off to the team. They won the fight against the No. 56 Porsche for us today. Our pit crew did a flawless job. I simply had to do my best and keep the car on the track. So, a huge thank you to the team.”
Egidio Perfetti (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “We experienced a lot of bad luck during the season. With this in mind, we’re very pleased with today’s podium result. The three of us drivers were really quick over the entire race distance. However, we kept losing a little time during our pits stops, which prevented an even better result. Still, we’re satisfied. We would’ve been even happier if we’d been the fastest Porsche in our class, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
1. Estre/Jani (F/CH), Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR #92, 174 laps
2. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR #91, 174 laps
3. Calado/Pier Guidi (GB/I), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 174 laps
4. Serra/Molina (BR/E), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 174 laps
1. Keating/Pereira/Fraga (USA/L/BR), Aston Martin Vantage GTE #33, 172 laps
2. Ried/Campbell/Evans (D/AUS/NZ), Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #77, 172 laps
3. Perfetti/Cairoli/Pera (N/I/I), Team Project 1, Porsche 911 RSR #56, 172 laps
Wainwright/Barker/Gamble (GB/GB/GB), GR Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #86, 171 laps
6. Wainwright/Barker/Gamble (GB/GB/GB), GR Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #86, 171 laps
13. Andlauer/de Leener/Al Qubaisi (F/B/UAE), Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #88, 166 laps