The Porsche GT Team has secured a very strong starting position in the qualifying for the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC in Bahrain: The two ca. 515 hp Porsche 911 RSR take up the eight-hour race on Saturday from pole position and the second grid row of the GTE Pro category. Denmark’s Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre from France claimed the first grid spot in their class with an average time of 1:56.505 minutes. This result was determined by the fastest lap of both drivers. Setting a time of 1:57.124 minutes, their teammates Richard Lietz (Austria) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) concluded the final 20-minute session on fourth place.
Porsche implemented two different strategies for the 911 RSR racers in the qualifying. In the No. 92 car, Estre and Christensen each had a set of brand new Michelin racing tyres at their disposal in their hunt for top times. In the sister car, Bruni and Lietz had just four tyres. Consequently, the pair has a fresh set up their sleeve for the final round on the 5.412-kilometre Bahrain International Circuit, which is known for its particularly abrasive asphalt. Over the entire race weekend, the teams contesting the GTE Pro class are permitted a total of 26 tyres per car.
Of the five 2017-spec 911 RSR contesting the GTE-Am category, the best-placed Porsche will take up the race from fourth place. Porsche ambassador Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Egidio Perfetti (Norway) set an average lap time of 1:58.896 minutes. They share the ca. 510 hp nine-eleven fielded by the customer team Project 1 with Larry ten Voorde. The Dutch driver is the reigning champion of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. Position six in the GTE Am class is occupied by the sister car driven by Dylan Pereira (Luxembourg), Ben Keating (USA) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands).
The eight-hour race of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC on the Bahrain International Circuit gets underway on Saturday (14 November) at 2 pm local time (midday CET).
Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “As expected, we experienced a close qualifying here in Bahrain. That makes us all the more thrilled about clinching pole position. Given that the track is very aggressive on the tyres, we’ve split our strategy between the two cars: The number 92 vehicle tackled the qualifying session on two new sets of tyres, while the 91 car had only one – for this reason, position one and four for the two cars is a very good result.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “Our RSR drove very well in qualifying. Unfortunately, I made a minor mistake in my first flying lap, but the second lap went better. Now we’re starting from pole position. Tyre use plays a major role in the race – I think we’re well prepared for that.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “In my first lap I made a small error. The second attempt ran more smoothly – and that earned us the pole. We managed to prepare well for the race during the first two practice sessions, our Porsche is okay. We’re facing an eight-hour race and in order to win it’s crucial to have a consistently fast car.”
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “In the free practice sessions, our main emphasis was on preparing for the race. I think we worked in the right direction. Everything ran well in qualifying. I drove a very clean lap, despite the fact that this was my first time on the track with the qualifying set-up. We’re trying a different strategy compared to our sister car – tomorrow will show whether this pays off.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “We still need to improve the balance of our car a little because we have to preserve the rear tyres. The car handled well in the qualifying. We saved a new set of tyres for the race. That was a strategic decision, which is why we’re now where we are on the grid. Tomorrow we have eight hours to get ahead.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “As the best amateur driver, Egidio Perfetti did a fantastic job with our Porsche. We managed to tweak the car a little for him after the last practice session, and things went much better for him after that. From fourth place, I hope we’ll be able to make up positions in the GTE Am class.”
Jaxon Evans (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “Heading into the qualifying on fresh rubber and little fuel in a car like the 911 RSR was a great experience for me. Even though we’re starting from eighth place, we have a long race ahead of us and it won’t be decided in the first corner. We three work very well together as a crew and we’ll manage it.”
1. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 1.56.505 minutes
2. Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage #95, + 0.016 seconds
3. Calado/Serra (GB/BRA), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, + 0.201 seconds
4. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR #91, + 0.619 seconds
5. Rigon/Molina (I/E), Ferrari 488 GTE #71, + 0.712 seconds
6. Westbrook/Martin (GB/B), Aston Martin Vantage #97, + 0.871 seconds
1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Gunn (CDN/P/GB), Aston Martin Vantage #98, 1:58.356 minutes
2. Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam (TR/GB/IRL), Aston Martin Vantage #90, + 0.443 seconds
3. Grimes/Cozzolino/Noble (GB/J/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #62, + 0.512 seconds
4. Bergmeister/Perfetti/ten Voorde (D/N/NL), Porsche 911 RSR #56, + 0.540 seconds
6. Keating/Pereira/Bleekemolen (USA/L/NL), Porsche 911 RSR #57, + 0.683 seconds
8. Evans/Holzer/Al Qubaisi (NZ/D/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR #88, + 1.068 seconds
9. Wainwright/Barker/Picariello (GB/GB/B), Porsche 911 RSR #86, + 1.197 seconds
10. Ried/Pera/Olsen (D/I/N), Porsche 911 RSR #77, + 1.309 seconds