Following the last-minute failure of Brazil to host the Sao Paolo round of the World Endurance Championship this year, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas stepped up to the plate to fill the hole in the schedule, and Porsche sent a pair of factory-backed 911 RSR to contest the round, as per usual. The effort resulted in the brand’s fourth GTE Pro class podium place of five rounds thus far in the championship season. Aston Martin, however, put up a mega fight, and took the victory in Texas. Porsche retains second place in the manufacturer’s championship.
The 6-hour race in Texas was cloudy and cold, and went the full race distance without a single yellow flag period. This normally would play to Porsche’s strengths, but Aston was able to mount a serious challenge, and Porsche had a few technical glitches that sidelined one half of the German sports car company’s efforts. Starting from second on the grid, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen ran a flawless drive and were rewarded with a second placed finish. Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, however, suffered a disappointing end. While running in fourth position, Bruni suddenly could not change gears and rolled to a stop at the side of the track. After cycling the ignition he was able to get going again, but pitted for a new battery and returned to the race. The pair could finish no higher than seventh.
Following failures at the Bahrain round and this failure in Texas do not bode well for Le Mans in June. Porsche is going to have to pull out all of the stops to make sure its cars survive the torture test!
In the GTE-Am class, Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Egidio Perfetti (Norway) and Germany’s Laurents Hörr clinched third place in the 2017-spec Porche 911 RSR fielded by the Project 1 squad.
Comments on the race
Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “I have mixed feelings about this round. The number 92 car had a very good race, which resulted in a commendable second place. Unfortunately we experienced an electrical problem with our number 91 Porsche 911 RSR. The car stood at the side of the track and we had to change the battery. That cost us several positions and consequently many championship points.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “In terms of tyre choice, we chose a different strategy than most of our competitors today. We raced on used slicks for most of the time while our rivals ran new tyres and vice versa. That’s why we were sometimes ahead and sometimes behind. But we didn’t let that faze us and we simply focussed on the job at hand. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to win and we were only four seconds off, but second place yields us important points for the championship.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We got the best out of the car. The team did a flawless job and we drove a steady race. I hope we’ll be at the top of the podium again next time.”
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Unfortunately, technology threw a spanner in the works today. It’s a real shame, especially so close to the end of the race. Still, the new 911 RSR is in its maiden season. We had the speed and the strategy to reach the podium today. We’ll do our utmost to be up the front again at the next race.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “The car ran well right from the start. Our rivals were able to pull clear a little on the straights, but we caught up on the narrow, technically demanding passages. The balance of our 911 RSR was excellent. The tyres still looked great after a double stint, and our strategy was perfect. Unfortunately we were hampered by the electrics. But Kevin and Michael’s good result demonstrate that the car has a lot of potential.”
Egidio Perfetti (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “Basically the race went really well. We definitely could have implemented a different strategy to finish even further up the field, but third place with our new driver line-up is very good and I’m happy with it.”
1. Thiim/Sörensen (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 173 laps
2. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 172 laps
3. Calado/Pier Guidi (GB/I), Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, 172 laps
7. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 170 laps
1. Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam (TR/IRL/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 170 laps
2. Turner/Dalla Lana/Gunn (GB/CDN/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 170 laps
3. Perfetti/Hörr/Cairoli (N/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 170 laps
5. Campbell/Ried/Pera (AUS/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 169 laps
6. Wainwright/Barker/Watson (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 169 laps
9. Preining/de Leener/Curtis (A/B/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, 168 laps
11. Keating/Fraga/Bleekemolen (USA/BRA/NL), Porsche 911 RSR, laps