Porsche’s customer teams are lying in promising positions after the first four hours of the endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. In the early stages of the 24-hour class in the Ardennes, last year’s winner Michael Christensen from Denmark, Austria’s Richard Lietz and Frenchman Kévin Estre have made particularly impressive progress. After the first four stints, their No. 47 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the KCMG squad has advanced to third place. The gap to the leader is just 4.8 seconds.
The start of the 24-hour race was delayed by 30 minutes due to repair work on the guardrails. When the race finally took off on a dry track at 4 pm, Thomas Preining turned heads in GPX Racing’s 500+hp Porsche with the starting number 40. The Austrian made some remarkable overtaking manoeuvres and then handed the car off to his French teammate Romain Dumas in third place. Shortly after the driver change, a short rain shower made conditions difficult. Running on slicks, Dumas struggled with a lack of grip on the wet track and fell back to tenth place. After four hours of racing, the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Frikadelli Racing (#22), Dinamic Motorsport (#54) and Rowe Racing (#98) are running in positions 11, 12 and 13.
The website https://www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com shows the 24-hour race via a free live stream, as does the YouTube channel of the race organiser SRO (https://www.youtube.com/user/gt1world). The live timing of all sessions is available on https://www.gt-world-challenge-europe.com.
Comments after the initial stage of the race
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “We’re where we ought to be after four hours of racing – among the frontrunners. Almost all Porsche 911 GT3 R have worked their way forward. The pace of the cars makes me very confident. Our first-class customer teams have mastered the challenges with the rain and the growing darkness excellently. There are many more hours of racing ahead of us. I hope we manage to stay out of any trouble and continue making our way forward.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #47): “I was really fast at the start of my stint. I overtook several cars and was ploughing my way through. Then a brief shower came. The conditions turned tricky because we stayed on slicks. The track was super slippery for two or three laps, but I managed to make up more ground because our Porsche 911 GT3 R has an awesome setup. Unfortunately, the gap to the top grew again. When a caution phases was announced, the driver in front of me pressed his speed limiter a few seconds too early. That cost a lot of time. Still, we’re going really well in the race. A safety car phase has put the gaps back into perspective.”
Thomas Preining (Porsche 911 GT3 R #40): “I headed into the starting phase somewhat cautiously because, as always, the first laps are always incredibly hectic. I simply wanted to get through unscathed. It worked. I then pulled out all stops and charged through the field from sixth to third place. Our Porsche 911 GT3 R is running beautifully and the team is doing a flawless job. It can go on like this.”