In the Autodromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, Porsche made a good start into the second half of the World Endurance Championship season. At the wheel of Felbermayr-Proton’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) scored third place in the GTE Pro class on the Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of the megacity Sao Paulo. After their victory in Spa-Francorchamps and second place at the season-opener in Sebring, this marks their third podium placing this season. Even more successful were Christian Ried (Germany) and his Italian teammates Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti, who finished second in the GTE Am category with the Felbermayr-Proton Porsche of the 2011 model year.
The six hour race on the 4.309 kilometre rollercoaster circuit began spectacularly: In the first corner after the start, several sports prototypes collided and blocked the track. Marc Lieb, who had clinched a good GT field grid spot with second, managed to avoid the chaos by veering over the run-off area, and successfully defended his second place for quite some time. Still, the German was not happy. “Our first stint was anything but good,” he said. “Our tyres didn’t work well with the track, the car and the very high temperatures. And we lost more time through bad luck with the safety car phase.” Richard Lietz added, “Third place was the least we had expected. When it cooled down a little our whole package worked much better and we drove the fastest times in the field. But by this time, the car running in second was simply too far ahead.”
In the GTE Am class, Paolo Ruberti snatched the lead shortly after the start at the wheel of last year’s 911 fielded by Felbermayr-Proton. And it was Ruberti as well who salvaged second place after a spirited chase through the field in the final stages of the race. For him and his teammates Christian Ried and Gianluca Roda, the winners of the season-opener in Sebring, this marked their fourth podium result so far this year. “We’re happy with second place,” said the Porsche Cup winner Gianluca Roda. “We achieved our personal best here. We were particularly fast in the last two hours of the race.”
Round six of the World Endurance Championship takes place on 29 September on the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir/Bahrain.
GTE Pro class
1. Fisichella/Bruni (I/I/), Ferrari F458 Italia, 221 laps
2. Mücke/Turner (D/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 220
3. Lieb/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 220
4. Bertolini/Beretta (I/MC), Ferrari F458 Italia, 219
GTE Am class
1. Bornhauser/Canal/Rees (F/F/BRA), Chevrolet Corvette, 216 laps
2. Ried/Roda/Ruberti (D/I/I), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 213
3. Bourret/Gibon/Belloc (F/F/F), Chevrolet Corvette, 211
4. Longo/Negrao/Bernoldi (BRA/BRA/BRA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 210
5. Camathias/Palttala/Daniels (CH/SF/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 195
Sports prototypes and GT vehicles race in the new World Endurance Championship. They are divided into four classes that start together but are classified separately:
LMGTE Pro class: This class is reserved for slightly modified standard sports cars with 440 to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).
LMGTE Am class: Like the LMGTE Pro, but the regulations stipulate that only last year’s cars are eligible and there must be no more than one professional driver per vehicle.
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with around 440 hp and a 900 kilogram minimum weight.