At its first race after triumphing at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Porsche AG Team Manthey achieved a podium result with the Porsche 911 RSR in Sao Paulo. Porsche factory pilots Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) scored third place in the GTE-Pro class at the Autodromo Josè Carlos, where round four of the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC was contested on Sunday. Their works driver colleagues and Le Mans winners Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) saw the chequered flag as fourth in the second 911 RSR.
In temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius, 40,000 spectators were treated to six hours of action-packed racing, particularly in the hotly-contested GT class. For Marc Lieb, who drove the first stint in the 470 hp # 92 Porsche 911 RSR, the race began with a harsh setback: After just a few laps on the Grand Prix circuit of Interlagos, a Ferrari shunted the right-front wheel of his Porsche. Despite sustaining a broken rim, he managed to return to the pits, but lost almost a whole lap and was thrown far back down the field initially.
After a one-hour safety car phase resulting from an accident and repairs to the track barrier, Joerg Bergmeister slotted in at the front of the GT field in the number 911 Porsche 911 RSR. When a Ferrari spun in front of him, his quick reaction enabled him to avoid a collision, but he received a shunt from behind by an Aston Martin which was unable to brake in time. As a result, he lost direct contact to the front-runners. Later on in the race which was afflicted by many retirements, the Porsche 911 RSR once again proved to be extremely steadfast and reliable. Patrick Pilet steered the number 91 GT racer from Weissach back on a podium course, with Richard Lietz also making up ground with the second 911 RSR, despite being hampered again with tyre damage. Scoring positions three and four, Porsche and Porsche AG Team Manthey secured crucial points towards the championship: In the LMGTE World Cup, Porsche ranks second, exactly like the Porsche AG Team Manthey in the FIA Endurance Trophy for GTE-Pro teams as well as Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz in the World Endurance Cup.
In the GTE-Am class, Porsche pilots also clinched a podium result: At the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from last year fielded by the Proton-Competition squad, Christian Ried (Germany) and his Italian teammates Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda netted third place. Fourth went to the French Le Mans winners Raymond Narac, Jean-Karl Vernay and Christophe Bourret in 911 GT3 RSR campaigned by IMSA Performance Matmut. The crew from France defended its lead in the FIA Endurance Trophy for GTE-Am teams.
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “The race began with an unlucky and unforeseeable turn of events with tyre damage on the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR in the sixth lap. This put the vehicle about a lap down. And we were unable to gain any advantage today from the caution phase either. Several minor shunts and punctures eventually resulted in us finishing two laps behind at the flag. Under these circumstances, third and fourth places are pretty good, but not exactly what we had hoped for. Now we need to precisely analyse the performance to see how we can continue from the next race in Austin.”
Joerg Bergmeister (#91): “That was quite an eventful race. Unfortunately we were lacking some speed on the straights compared to the opposition. Unluckily, when overtaking I was hit by an Aston Martin. This cost me some time - an entire lap in fact. Still, considering that our qualifying was not exactly perfect, third place is a conciliatory result.”
Patrick Pilet (#91): “We couldn’t do much better today. We drove a flawless race, but we simply lack a little top speed. Moreover, we also fell victim to several incidents. We can live with third place. I’m pleased for the team who worked very hard for this.”
Marc Lieb (#92): “The start was quite chaotic; at the beginning everyone was pretty wild. A Ferrari overtook me somewhat optimistically so I opened the door a little to avoid a collision. When I then tried to counter-attack I assumed he would do me the same for me, but I was wrong. Instead he wrecked my rim. This cost us a lot of time shortly after the start. At the end, we also got a puncture which ultimately cost us a podium spot. Now we need to see that we do better in Austin.”
Richard Lietz (#92): “The two punctures were of course very unfortunate. Plus we couldn’t make up the lost time during the safety car phase, in fact we lost more time. That was a lot of bad luck. The car itself ran well, a podium spot would have been possible. Right now we’re pleased for our teammates. Last time we were ahead, now it’s their turn – that’s what happens in such a balanced team.”
Round five of the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC takes place on 22 September on the Circuit of the Americas in Austin (Texas, USA).
Eurosport broadcasts the six-hour race in Sao Paulo on 3 September at 9.45 hours CEST in a 30-minute wrap-up.
1. Bruni/Fisichella (I/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 212 laps
2. Turner/Mücke (GB/D), Aston Martin Vantage, 212
3. Bergmeister/Pilet (D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 210
4. Lieb/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 209
5. DallaLana/Stanaway/Lamy (CAN/NZ/P), Aston Martin Vantage, 186
1. Hall/Campbell-Walter (GB/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 208 laps
2. Potolicchio/Aguas/Rigon (I/P/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 208
3. Ried/Roda/Ruberti (D/I/I), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 207
4. Narac/Vernay/Bourret (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 207
5. Krohn/Jönsson/Mediani (USA/S/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 203
6. Bornhauser/Canal/Rees (F/F/BRA), Chevrolet Corvette, 194
In the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC, sports prototypes and GT vehicles start in four classes: LMGTE-Pro, LMGTE-Am, LMP1 and LMP2. They all compete together in one race but are classified separately.