The Porsche GT Team qualified on starting positions eight and ten for the FIA WEC World Sports Car Championship in Fuji, Japan. Richard Lietz (A) and Gianmaria Bruni (I) in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and Kevin Estre (F) and Michael Christensen (DK) in the No. 92 sister car will now focus on the race performance. After setting the fastest lap with the RSR in the GTE-Pro category during the free practice on Saturday morning, the qualifying session held three hours later did not yield the expected lap times. Lietz and Bruni take up the six-hour race on the 4.563-kilometre racetrack from the fourth grid row. The French-Danish driver pairing starts directly behind them.
In the GTE-Am class, Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (I) and the Japanese racing driver Satoshi Hoshino claimed pole position. They tackle the race in the No. 88 vehicle fielded by Dempsey Proton Racing with Giorgio Roda from Italy. The second 911 RSR campaigned by Dempsey Proton Racing with drivers Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (AUS), Christian Ried (Germany) and Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (F) qualified on the third grid spot.
The Project 1 squad concluded the 20-minute qualifying session at the Fuji Speedway on fourth place. The No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR is manned by Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister from Germany, Patrick Lindsey (USA) and Egidio Perfetti (N). The seventh grid spot is occupied by Gulf Racing’s entry with drivers Michael Wainwright (GB), Ben Barker (GB) and Porsche Junior Thomas Preining (A).
The race over six hours at the foot of Mount Fuji starts on 14 October at 4:00 hrs CEST (11:00 hrs local time).
Alexander Stehlig (Program Manager GT Motorsport): “That was a tough qualifying and obviously we’re not happy with positions eight and ten. Now we have to see what happened and draw the relevant conclusions for tomorrow. Right now we’re looking ahead and are focusing on the race. We know the car is good, but unfortunately we didn’t manage to pull it all together in the qualifying.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Eighth place is not what we’d imagined. But the balance of the car was good. Gianmaria and I drove flawless laps with the speed we had. We now have to see why the others were faster than us. Still, I’m feeling optimistic. We have six hours in the race to fight our way up the field.”
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Richie drove a good lap on used tyres. I tried my best to get the most out of the fresh tyres. Unfortunately only eighth place was possible. I hope we have some luck in the race, which unfortunately hasn’t been with us so far.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “That wasn’t a great qualifying for us. We didn’t have the grip and performance that we expected. My lap wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t possible to go much faster. Now we have to look at the data and analyse what was going on.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “After setting the fastest time in free practice this morning we obviously didn’t expect to land on tenth place. We don’t yet know where the others made up time seemingly out of nowhere. Our closest rival, however, qualified one grid position in front of us. It looks like we’ll have rain for the race, at least early on. That’s when we need to grab our chance.”
Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “We finished on pole position, but I had to concede to Satoshi Hoshino, he was half a second faster than the other amateur drivers. I lost a lap due to exceeding the track limit. And my fastest lap could have been better. Never mind, we’re pleased to be starting from the first grid spot in our class and let’s see what the race brings.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “We can be happy with third. We worked hard on the setup in free practice and were able to make good progress. The car felt great in qualifying and now we just have to stay out of the chaos in the race, then I hope for a good result.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “Basically, fourth on the grid falls short of our expectations. We’re a little behind with our setup, because we only managed to turn a few laps due to a gearbox problem in the first session. Our aim now is to drive a clean race and bring home points.”
1. Sorensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, 1:36,093 minutes
2. Blomquist/da Costa (S/P), BMW M8 GTE, +0,182 sec.
3. Lynn/Martin (GB/B), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, +0,087 sec.
4. Priaulx/Tincknell (GB/GB), Ford GT, +0,091 sec.
5. Rigon/Bird (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE EVO, +0,089 sec.
6. Pier Guidi/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE EVO, +0,002 sec.
7. Tomczyk/Catsburg (D/NL), BMW M8 GTE, +0,193 sec.
8. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR, +0,039 sec.
9. Mücke/Pla (D/F), Ford GT, +0,191 sec.
10. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, +0,142 sec.
1. Hoshino/Roda/Cairoli (J/I/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:38,336 minutes
2. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CDN/P/A), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, +0,064 sec.
3. Ried/Andlauer/Campbell (D/F/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR, +0,124 sec.
4. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti (D/USA/N), Porsche 911 RSR, +0,054 sec.
5. Yoluc/Adam/Eastwood (TR/GB/GB), Aston Martin Vantage GTE, +0,020 sec.
6. Mok/Sawa/Griffin (MAL/J/IRL), Ferrari 488 GTE, +0,732 sec.
7. Wainwright/Barker/Preining (GB/GB/A), Porsche 911 RSR, +0,025 sec.
8. Flohr/Castellacci/Fisichella (CH/I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, +0,016 sec.
9. Ishikawa/Beretta/Cheever (J/MC/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, +0,514 sec.