The battle between Porsche and Ferrari is heating up in the FIA WEC this year ahead of a run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a six hour fight just 100 miles from the Ferrari factory, Porsche has won the most recent GTE Pro class outing at Monza. Factory ace racers Kevin Estre and Neel Jani paired for an exciting victory in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR at the high-speed Italian autodromo. Porsche’s second car, the #91 of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz finished in third position behind one of the two Ferrari pairings.
“Congratulations to the team! The drivers and the entire team put in an impressive performance. And that under the most difficult of conditions, because the flood disaster in Germany is of course in everyone’s minds – especially since employees of our Manthey emergency team are also affected. I can’t thank the crew enough ”, summarizes Pascal Zurlinden, overall project manager for works motorsport. “With the victory in the home of our main competitor Ferrari, we regained the top spot in the drivers ‘championship and significantly reduced the gap in the manufacturers’ championship. It was the ideal dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which we will tackle with maximum motivation.”
“It’s a great result that we didn’t expect in this form,” explains Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations at the FIA WEC. “I’m really very relieved because we were under pressure because we couldn’t get our dream result in the last race in Portugal. We started the race knowing that Monza is not necessarily the track that suits the Porsche 911 RSR best. We have therefore designed everything to make the most of our possibilities. We succeeded perfectly. It is a huge success to be at the top of the podium at Ferrari’s home game in Monza. “
The track was incredibly hot all weekend, and this marked the first time that an FIA WEC race has allowed any spectators in the gate since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. The fans sat in the sweltering grandstands enduring the roasting to watch the two white German cars stomp all over the Rosso Corsa machines from Modena. It was a sweaty situation, to say nothing of the heat! Porsche sat on the pole for the 6-hour sprint, and Kevin Estre got away from the green flag with a good start and maintained his run at the front for the entirety of his opening double stint. Neel Jani took over the race lead from his teammate and spent the next several hours trading the lead with Ferrari machinery. At the end of the six hours, it was Porsche at the point, taking the checkered flag all the way back to Stuttgart.
Meanwhile, things weren’t quite so simple for the #91 team car, as it looked extremely strong at the start, but a GTE Am classed car spun on the track and collected Bruni. The result was damage to the front of the 911 RSR, which hampered the car’s aerodynamics, especially unfortunate at such a high speed race. The team’s minimal repairs were affected and the car maintained its course, fighting the second Ferrari for a podium position, which also went Porsche’s way. Even a wounded Porsche is faster than a healthy Ferrari!
This race marked Porsche’s second win of the season from three races, and saw the 92 car regain the championship points lead. Everything is on the line between the two brands, plus some Corvette interlopers, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.
Driver comments on the race
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR # 92):“I’m extremely happy because this success really comes as a surprise. We knew that our 911 RSR was really fast over one lap. We demonstrated that with the pole position in qualifying. At the same time, however, we had expected Ferrari to be faster than us over the distance. We delivered a perfect race – all of them. Our team kept getting important seconds out of the competition with extremely fast pit stops. That was an important key. In addition, the strategy was optimal and my colleague Neel Jani was in top form. That was one of the toughest WEC races I’ve ever driven. ”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR # 91): ” It was a difficult weekend for us and especially for some members of our Manthey team who were hit by the flood in their home country are. Because of this, we had to change our pit crew a bit. At this point, many thanks to the entire team, who worked under the most difficult conditions this weekend. ”
Result GTE-Pro class
1st Estre / Jani (F / CH), Porsche 911 RSR # 92, 190 laps
2nd Pier Guidi / Calado (I. / GB), Ferrari 488 GTE # 51, 190 laps
3rd Bruni / Lietz (I / A), Porsche 911 RSR # 91, 190 laps
4th Serra / Molina (BR / E), Ferrari 488 GTE # 71, 190 laps
Result GTE-Am class
1st Perrodo / Nielsen / Rovera (F / DK / I), Ferrari 488 GTE # 83, 187 laps
2nd Dalla Lana / Farfus / Gomes (CDN / BR / BR), Aston Martin # 97, 87 laps
3rd Hoshino / Fujii / Watson (J / J / GB), Aston Martin # 33, 187 laps
4th Perfetti / Cairoli / Pera (N / I / I), Porsche 911 RSR # 56, 187 laps
5th Ried / Evans / Campbell (D / NZ / AUS), Porsche 911 RSR # 77, 186 laps
6th Haryanto / Seefried / Picariello (RI / D / B), Porsche 911 RSR # 88, 186 laps
9th Wainwright / Barker / Gamble (GB / GB / GB), Porsche 911 RSR # 86, 185 laps
13th Olsen / Buchardt / Root (N / N / USA), Porsche 911 RSR # 46, 183 laps