The Porsche GT Team tackles the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC from pole position. Works driver Kévin Estre turned the fastest GTE-Pro class lap in the final qualifying session for the eight-hour race on Bahrain International Circuit. For the Frenchman, this was the fifth pole position from the sixth event this year at the wheel of the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR. Given that the 911 fielded by the customer team HubAuto Racing was the fastest vehicle in the hunt for top times at the highlight in Le Mans, the ca. 515 PS racer from Weissach remains unbeaten in qualifying for the entire 2021 season – a record in the history of the FIA WEC. The Italian Gianmaria Bruni set the third quickest time with the No. 91 car.
“That was a very close and gripping qualifying,” states Alexander Stehlig. The Head of Operations for the FIA WEC adds: “We achieved exactly what we wanted with our No. 92 car – to start from pole position and earn the extra point for it. Every point counts. This qualifying was much closer than last weekend, which gives us a taste of what’s to come in the race. It’s going to be quite a fight. We’re looking forward to it and we can hardly wait to get going.”
The final qualifying session of the season was held in Bahrain in the early evening at 5:20 pm. Conditions were different in the previous two free practices, with air temperatures of well over 30 degrees Celsius. The Porsche GT Team still managed to find an optimal setup for cooler conditions for both 911 RSR in the final qualifying. Estre topped the timesheets right from the start of the session, but his time was cancelled when he veered from the track. At his second attempt, the Frenchman pulled out all stops and achieved the top time in 1:56.041 minutes, narrowly beating the sister car and rivals from Ferrari. For pole position, Estre and his Swiss teammate Neel Jani receive an additional point towards the world championship. The duo, who share the cockpit of the No. 92 car with Michael Christensen from Denmark, are now tied for points with the best Ferrari pair at the top of the drivers’ classification rankings. Two of Gianmaria Bruni’s lap times were voided. Due to these setbacks, the Italian ended up in third place. For the race, Bruni joins forces in the No. 91 cockpit with Richard Lietz from Austria and Frédéric Makowiecki from France.
In the GTE-Am class, Egidio Perfetti repeated his feat from last weekend at the same venue and was the fastest driver of a Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class. The Norwegian set the fourth-fastest qualifying time at the wheel of the No. 56 car fielded by the Project 1 customer squad. The two identical nine-eleven run by Dempsey-Proton Racing will take up the race from positions seven and nine. The car campaigned by the British squad GR Racing lines up on the grid on P12.
The final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC season on the Bahrain International Circuit gets underway on Saturday 6 November at 2:00 pm local time (midday CET). The free-TV station Eurosport 1 broadcasts the race in full length live. Viewers can also watch extensive coverage of the event from Bahrain on RTL Nitro and Sport1. For a fee, the official FIA WEC app offers live streaming and live timing.
Drivers’ comments after the qualifying
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “I’m very pleased. It was extremely close and a real nail-biter. We earned the extra point for pole position and are now tied for points with our colleagues from Ferrari at the top of the drivers’ world championship standings. The situation before the final race couldn’t be more exciting. We start from pole – which is good, but of course, it’s no guarantee of anything. I’m sure it’ll be a very tough race over eight hours, especially since our competitors are clearly faster than they were last week. I hope we keep the upper hand at the final.”
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “I had to fight to the last second in the qualifying because two of my lap times were cancelled. Our car is well set up for the race so I’m feeling confident. One thing is certain, though: Our competitor has become faster. I’m curious how this will pan out on race day.”
Egidio Perfetti (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “We have the best-placed Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class – I’m satisfied with my performance. The qualifying was tough. I’m pleased that we improved in some respects compared to the Aston Martin. But we’re heading into a long eight-hour race. We’ll now concentrate on that and hope for a good result.”
1. Estre/Jani/Christensen (F/CH/DK), Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR #92, 1:56.041 minutes
2. Calado/Pier Guidi (GB/I), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 1:56.201 minutes
3. Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki (A/I/F), Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR #91, 1:56.541 minutes
4. Serra/Molina (BR/E), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 1:56.603 minutes
1. Lacorte/Sernagiotto/Fuoco (I/I/I), Cetilar Racing, Ferrari 488 GTE #47, 1:58.712 minutes
2. Perrodo/Nielsen/Rovera (F/DK/I), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #83, 1:58.759 minutes
3. Frey/Bovy/Legge (CH/B/GB), Iron Lynx, Ferrari 488 GTE #85, 1:58.958 minutes
4. Perfetti/Cairoli/Pera (N/I/I), Team Project 1, Porsche 911 RSR #56, 1:58.989 minutes
7. Andlauer/Jefferies/Al Qubaisi (F/GB/UAE), Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #88, 1:59.359 minutes
9. Ried/Campbell/Evans (D/AUS/NZ), Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #77, 1:59.936 minutes
12. Wainwright/Barker/Gamble (GB/GB/GB), GR Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #86, 2:01.282 minutes