The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most tradition-steeped and challenging racetracks in the world, will host round two of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC on 6 May. The Porsche GT Team fields two new Porsche 911 RSR on the Formula 1 circuit in Belgium’s Ardennes region. The 510 hp race car was developed from scratch at Porsche Motorsport in Weissach based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. After its successful race debut in the USA, the 911 RSR netted another podium result over Easter clinching third place at the WEC season-opening round in Silverstone.
Measuring 7.004 kilometres, the Grand Prix circuit in the hilly countryside of the Ardennes is the second longest racetrack on the WEC calendar after Le Mans. The difficult rollercoaster course throws everything at drivers and is guaranteed to provide fans with plenty of gripping action. The circuit’s corners have illustrious names such as La Source, Blanchimont and Stavelot, and then there is, of course, Eau Rouge. This daunting corner has made the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as well-known as the delicious waffles that are sold around the track.
The Porsche drivers
Four Porsche works drivers contest the race at Spa for the Porsche GT Team in the new 911 RSR. In the GTE-Pro class, Richard Lietz (Austria), the WEC GT Champion of 2015, and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) share the cockpit of the #91 vehicle. These two started into the 2017 season with third place at the Silverstone season-opener. Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) man the #92 car. In the GTE-Am class, two Porsche customer teams campaign a 911 RSR from previous years: Dempsey Proton Racing for Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Christian Ried (Germany) and Marvin Dienst (Germany) as well as Gulf Racing for Michael Wainwright (Great Britain), Nick Foster (Australia) and Ben Barker (Great Britain).
The Porsche 911 RSR
The 911 RSR is a completely new development: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed in Weissach from scratch. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is now positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). Thanks to the particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing, the level of downforce and the aerodynamic efficiency were significantly improved. The 911 RSR also contests the WEC sporting the further developed factory design with the primary colours white, red and black.
The six-hour race takes off on Saturday, 6 May, at 14.30 hrs.
Comments before the race
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “Spa is the dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s one last test under racing conditions before the ultimate highlight of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC season. We’ll use the race on the challenging circuit in the Ardennes to prepare our new 911 RSR as well as us as a team in the best possible way for the very special challenges of Le Mans. We were able to take important insights back to Weissach from the season-opener in Silverstone and we would now like to turn these findings into an even better performance at Spa.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “The setup of the car for this demanding racetrack is particularly important. Those who find the best compromise and hence manage to minimise tyre wear potentially have a decisive advantage. But the tyres will not be the only special challenge when you drive a new car like our 911 RSR for the first time at Spa.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #91): “Spa is a very demanding racetrack and that makes it great to drive there. It’ll definitely be fun with our new 911 RSR and its great downforce. Still, we’re facing a six-hour race and a lot can happen during that time. We have to be consistently good. But I have a great new teammate with Fred, so there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #91): “After Silverstone we now have an initial benchmark as to where we stand compared to our competitors. Spa is a completely different racetrack on which we have to drive with a totally different setup. The circuit has a lot of fast corners. The new 911 RSR generates very good downforce. From what we know, Spa is a track where this should be an advantage.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #92): “After the exciting season-opener at Silverstone, Spa is sure to be another interesting race. I’m pleased for the fans who always flock in great numbers to this storied racetrack, despite the unpredictable Ardennes weather. Because we’re preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, every lap that we can turn with our new 911 RSR is important for us.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “I have very special memories of Spa. In 2015 I contested my first race as a Porsche works driver on this fantastic track. It was my first time in the WEC and we came third after a turbulent race – I’ll never forget it. I’m looking forward to returning to Spa and I’m confident that the new 911 RSR will perform well again on this very special track.”
Matteo Cairoli (911 RSR #77): “Spa was one of my favourite circuits even during my time in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. I can hardly wait to drive the 911 RSR there for the first time. Third place at Silverstone was a great start to my maiden WEC season. I’d be happy for things to continue like this.”
Source. Porsche/Photo. John Patterson