It was a busy weekend in the world of Porsche motorsport with races in the WEC, IMSA and Supercup. Round 2 of the World Endurance Challenge was contested at Spa Francochamps with Porsche competing in both LMP1 and GTE-Pro. If Porsche's full report is too much for you, we have a TL;DR summation in the form of a video below. Otherwise, for those that prefer to read their results we have Porsche's full race report and pictures, too.
LMP1 race FIA World Endurance Championship, round 2 in Spa-Francorchamps
In the last race before the Le Mans 24-Hours, the Porsche 919 Hybrids finished third and fourth.
At the six-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, both prototypes endured a troubled contest. The trio of Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) lost time due to a slow puncture coming home third. The sister car of reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) started from pole position but was unfortunate with the timing of two “Full Course Yellow” periods that neutralized the race. They finished just behind their team mates. Hartley had the consolation of setting the overall fastest race lap to underline the 919 Hybrid’s potential. But in Spa, over the race distance, it was a pair of Toyotas that took the laurels.
Just like at the season’s opening race in Silverstone, Porsche competed again in the Le Mans aerodynamic configuration. However, the lower downforce causes higher tire wear. Toyota raced in two different aero specifications. Interestingly and perhaps foreshadowing what's to come, their car in Le Mans configuration finished behind the Porsches.
After the second of nine rounds in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Porsche ranks second in the constructors’ standings. In the drivers’ world championship, the Porsche crews are currently second and third.
How the race went for car number 1:
Lotterer starts from pole in warm sunshine. The #7 Toyota takes the lead under braking around the outside into Bus Stop chicane at the end of lap 10. Two laps later #1 drops to third as the #8 Toyota goes ahead entering La Source. The #2 sister Porsche goes past on lap 21. After 22 laps Lotterer hands over the car to Tandy who resumes in P5. On lap 29 Tandy sweeps ahead of the #9 Toyota into P4. On lap 40 he passes the sister car that is on older tires. After 46 laps Tandy stops for fuel only, leapfrogging the #8 Toyota in to P2 during the pit-stop phase when #8 made a driver change. On lap 64 the #8 Toyota overtakes Tandy who slips to P3. After 70 laps #1 is due for fuel again; Tandy hands over to Jani. The next stop for fuel, after only 94 laps, comes just before a “Full Course Yellow” period. Jani continues in P3 but is overtaken by the #2 Porsche on lap 116 before he pits at the end of the next lap. Lotterer jumps back into the car – equipped with four fresh tires in P4. He refuels on laps 142 and 165 in the 173-lap race.
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): “The pace was more or less what we expected it to be. We could match one Toyota but the other one was out of reach. We were a little unlucky and lost a lot of time twice during Full Course Yellows. After this our only chance to come back in the race was rain.”
How the race went for car number 2:
Hartley moves up one place from his fifth place start when second-row starting #9 Toyota locks up at La Source hairpin after the green light. Hartley overtakes the sister #1 Porsche for P3 on lap 21 and pits from lead for fuel only on lap 24 after the leading Toyotas had pitted earlier. Hartley continues in P3, aborts the final corner 19 on lap 39 and lets closely following #1 ahead. Hartley pits after 48 laps for full service to Bamber who resumes in P4 but is forced to pit early after 54 laps, when less than a second from P3, with a slow rear left puncture. The team replaces only that tire while adding a splash of fuel. Bamber remains in P4 with two hours on the clock. After 78 laps Bamber gets out and Bernhard continues in P4 with more than half of the race distance to go. During a “Full Course Yellow” period the team calls both 919 Hybrids to the pits for fuel only after 94 laps. Bernhard continues in P4 until he overtakes the #1 Porsche on lap 116 to improve to P3. After 119 laps Bernhard hands over to Hartley again, who gets four fresh tires. He sets the fastest lap of the race on lap 122 and manages to overtake the number 7 Toyota on lap 127. On his last lap before the next scheduled pit stop, Hartley has a collision with a LMP2. After 143 laps the car is refuelled and gets a new nose section. Hartley rejoins the race immediately behind the number 7 Toyota in P3 with one hour to go. After 167 laps he comes for a final splash and dash before finishing
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): “The Toyotas were quick at the start and I knew I was in for a double stint. With the warmer ambient temperatures, the car's balance was quite different from the previous days. But I had a strong end to the opening stint and overtook André just before the pit-stops. The sister car went onto a different strategy while we managed to keep close to the 8 Toyota. Our car was unlucky when Earl picked up a puncture which put us behind and off strategy. I was in the car for the last couple of hours. The team did a great job and our car was coming on really strong towards the finish. It's another podium, not the step we wanted to stand on, but we take confidence heading to Le Mans.“third.
GT Race: World Endurance Championship WEC, round 2 in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Round two of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC concluded with positions five and six in the GTE-Pro class for the Porsche GT Team after Saturday’s trouble-free race with swift pit stops. On Belgium’s racetrack in Spa-Francorchamps, Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) narrowly pipped their teammates to the post with the new Porsche 911 RSR (#91). Less than a minute later, Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) followed them over the line in the #92 sister car.
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “That was a difficult race for us; we simply lacked the speed compared to the competition. One thing is certain: Our 911 RSR ran like clockwork, our strategy was super and our mechanics didn’t make the slightest mistake with the fast pit stops.”
The Dempsey Proton Racing customer team celebrated a podium finish with the Porsche 911 RSR (model year 2015): Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) as well as the two Germans Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst drove a spirited race to finish second. The Gulf Racing squad with Englishmen Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker as well as Australian Nick Foster had to retire from the race after a collision.
Matteo Cairoli (911 RSR #77): “It’s just my second WEC race with Chris and Marvin and we land on the second podium step – that feels really good. Third at Silverstone, second at Spa – I think our goal for Le Mans should be fairly obvious...”
Next up after is round three on the demanding WEC calendar: On 17/18 June, the 85th running of the Le Mans long-distance classic. Prior to the legendary race, there will be a test day on the 13.6-kilometre circuit on 4 June.
GTE-Pro class Race result
1. Rigon/Bird (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 151 laps
2. Calado/Pier Guidi (I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, 150
3. Mücke/Pla/Johnson (D/F/USA), Ford GT, 150
4. Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani (GB/GB/BRA), Ford GT, 150
5. Lietz/Makowiecki (A/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 149
6. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 149
7. Turner/Adam/Serra (GB/GB/BRA), Aston Martin, 148
8. Thiim/Soerensen/Stanaway (DK/DK/NZ), Aston Martin, 148
GTE-Am class Race result
1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CAN/P/A), Aston Martin, 146 laps
2. Ried/Cairoli/Dienst (D/I/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 146
3. Mok/Sawa/Griffin (MYS/J/IRL), Ferrari 488 GTE, 145
4. Flohr/Castellacci/Molina (CZE/I/E), Ferrari 488 GTE, 144
Wainwright/Barker/Foster (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, DNQ