At the Silverstone six-hour race, the new Porsche 911 RSR started its maiden season in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC with a podium result. Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) planted the 911 RSR with the starting number 91 on the third grid spot in the GTE-Pro class on Easter Sunday in front of more than 50,000 spectators. With four automobile manufacturers, this category is the most strongly represented and treated fans to 171 laps of thrills and spills right from the start of the season. For 2017, the completely newly developed 510 hp race car from Weissach is fielded by the Porsche GT Team in the WEC as well as the IMSA SportsCar Championship in the USA and Canada.
Twenty-seven cars lined up on the Silverstone Circuit to kick off this year’s Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC. The sky over the storied racetrack in the British Midlands was overcast, a cold wind blew, and light showers fell especially in the second half of the race. However, this dampened neither the spirits of the enthusiastic British motor racing fans on the grandstands nor the pilots, who, instead of switching to wet tyres on the partially wet track, stayed out on slicks and treated the spectators to gripping fights and spectacular overtaking manoeuvres. The Porsche GT Team used the entire qualifying session to prepare for the race and to save the tyres. This season, only four instead of six sets of tyres may be used per race weekend.
This strategy paid off. In the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, Frédéric Makowiecki made up three positions in the first lap; after nine laps he was already running in third. In his slipstream, his works driver colleague Michael Christensen (# 92) turned consistently fast lap times and was within striking distance of the frontrunners. After just half an hour, the Frenchman was in second with the Dane in third. In his pursuit of the leader, Frédéric Makowiecki didn’t let the first drops of rain halt his charge. After 26 laps, he snatched the lead for the first time, which he then had to reclaim again and again over the course of the race. After two hours he handed the 911 RSR off to his teammate Richard Lietz. In the #92 vehicle, Kévin Estre took the wheel and continued to chase down the front group. However, at just over the halfway mark, he had park his 911 RSR with a technical problem.
Frédéric Makowiecki on the other hand seemed unstoppable. When the safety car was deployed a good two hours before the finish, he took over driving duties from Richard Lietz and promptly turned the fastest lap of the race. With one hour and twelve minutes to go, he pulled into the pits as the leader. Even as he pitted for a splash-and-dash fuel stop shortly before the finish he was still running at the top. Since his rivals had already made their final pit stops at this stage, Makowiecki returned to the race action in fourth. Still, with a breathtaking final push in the final laps he managed to snatch third – which everyone had believed to be lost – and made the much hoped for good start into the WEC season.
In the GTE-Am class as well, Porsche had every reason to celebrate. With the 911 RSR campaigned by the customer squad Dempsey Proton Racing, the Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) joined forces with his German teammates Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst to claim third place after a dramatic final lap. Matteo Cairoli was also one of the pilots who secured second in the 911 RSR of Proton Competition at the season-opening round of the European Le Mans Series ELMS at Silverstone the day before.
Round two of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship is contested on 6 May in Spa-Francorchamps/Belgium.
Porsche Press Release