To conclude the 2016 motor racing season, Porsche fields two 911 GT3 R at the twelve-hour race in Sepang, the season finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Six Porsche factory drivers will tackle the event on the Sepang International Circuit not far from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur: Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) will contest Asia’s most important long distance race in the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The 912 vehicle is shared by their team colleagues Michael Christensen (Denmark), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria). Porsche’s long-standing and successful partner, Manthey Racing, will run the 500 hp customer sports racers, which were designed in Weissach for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car.
The twelve-hour race on the 5.543-kilometre Grand Prix circuit with its 15 corners was first held in the year 2000. Because of its significance for the important Asian market, reputable automobile manufacturers tackled this race right from the start. This season, the Malaysian event is part of the newly-created Intercontinental GT Challenge as the third round alongside Australia’s Bathurst 12 Hour and the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium. The fourth race planned for Austin/USA did not take place. The idea of contesting four long-distance races on four continents is now expected to be realized in 2017.
The Porsche drivers
For Earl Bamber, the 2015 overall winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as champion of the Carrera Cup Asia in 2013 and 2014, Sepang is almost like a home race. He lived in Kuala Lumpur for many years. Bamber is joined in the cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R with his Le Mans teammate Nick Tandy as well as the 2015 IMSA GT Champion, Patrick Pilet. Another strong driver line-up mans the number 912 Porsche 911 GT3 R: Richard Lietz won the 2015 FIA World Endurance Cup as the best GT pilot. He teams up with Frédéric Makowiecki and Michael Christensen.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R
The maiden race outing of the Porsche 911 GT3 R featuring the new, ultra-modern four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection was in January 2016 at the Daytona 24-hour race. In developing the 911 GT3 R, the engineers placed particular emphasis on lightweight design, better aerodynamic efficiency, a reduction in fuel consumption and further improved driveability. In its debut season, the 911 GT3 R celebrated many successes in international racing series, including the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the World Challenge as well as the Nürburgring VLN Long Distance Championship on the demanding Nordschleife.
The race on the Sepang International Circuit takes off on 10 December at midday local time (05:00 hrs CET) and can be seen via Internet livestream on http://www.sepang12hours.com and http://www.blancpain-GT-series.com.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “The twelve-hour race in Sepang will be another great highlight to wind up the 2016 motorsport year. It’s important for us, especially in view of the Asian market, to showcase how well our 911 GT3 R performs under undoubtedly tough conditions.”
Sascha Pilz, Manager GT Customer Motorsport: “After the strong performance at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, we’re eager to stand on the top podium step again and demonstrate the endurance capabilities of our 911 GT3 R. Our drivers and the Manthey Racing team are extremely motivated.”
Alex Stehlig, Programme Manager Sepang: “We’re going to Sepang to test the 911 GT3 R on completely new terrain under racing conditions. At this race we’ll face extreme heat and high humidity – and that makes it a crucial test. We’re travelling to this event feeling well prepared and very optimistic. What will undoubtedly help is the fact that we have plenty of track time before the first qualifying. If the weather doesn’t throw a spanner in the works, we should be able to sort out the cars very well.”
Earl Bamber (911 GT3 R #911): “Sepang is virtually a home race for me. I’ve turned countless laps on this racetrack. Our 911 GT3 R performed very well in Macau and that’s promising for Sepang. Hopefully we’ll score the victory there that we deserved in Macau. The big challenges will be the heat and tyre wear.”
Patrick Pilet (911 GT3 R #911): “I’m very much looking forward to this race. I’ve never been to Malaysia. The circuit doesn’t look easy, but I’m sure that Earl can give us a few tips on how to be really fast there. This is our last race of the season and obviously we want to head into the short winter break with a victory.”
Nick Tandy (911 GT3 R #911): “To contest a twelve-hour race on the Formula 1 track will be a very new and undoubtedly interesting experience. In Asia, I’m only familiar with Japan and China, hence I’m excited to go to Sepang. And apart from that, Road Atlanta was the last race I contested back in October. I can hardly wait to put on my race overalls.”
Richard Lietz (911 GT3 R #912): “The 911 GT3 R ran very well in Macau, which makes me very confident for Sepang. Tackling a long distance race with two teammates like Fred and Michael is perfect. It would be fantastic if we could finish up the season with a win.”
Michael Christensen (911 GT3 R #912): “I’ve never been to Malaysia, so I’m not only looking forward to the race but also to experiencing this very interesting country. I’ve heard that this will be a real endurance race with everything that goes with it. But we’re definitely in an excellent position with the extremely experienced Manthey Racing squad.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 GT3 R #912): “I’m looking forward to this race with the 911 GT3 R. The car is great fun to drive. After its strong performance in its maiden race season as well as on the Nordschleife and recently in Macau, I’m also hoping to achieve a good result in Sepang. It would be terrific to finish the year with a victory.”