Porsche defends WEC championship lead with podium in Japan

Porsche defends WEC championship lead with podium in Japan

Porsche has successfully defended its lead in the world championship at round two of FIA World Endurance Championship. At the six-hour race in Fuji (Japan), Denmark’s Michael Christensen and the Frenchman Kévin Estre finished in second place with the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR. At the same time, the world champions moved into the lead of the drivers’ championship. Their factory driver colleagues Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria), who won the season-opening round at Silverstone (Great Britain), saw the chequered flag in sixth place. In the GTE-Am class, the Porsche customer team from Germany, Project 1, finished on third place.

Christensen and Estre launched an impressive charge through the field in the race at the foot of Mount Fuji. Thanks to fast lap times and the team’s clever strategic decisions, the ca. 515 hp 911 RSR, which is based on the high-performance Porsche 911 GT3 RS* road-going sports car, worked its way up the order from the last grid spot. When rain set in after the first third of the race, the Porsche GT Team opted for the best tyre choice, and completed the pit stops at the right time during the caution phases. The Silverstone winners, Lietz and Bruni, had less luck in the number 91 sister car. A puncture, a drive-through penalty and ongoing misfiring problems relegated the polesitters down the field to sixth place. In the manufacturers’ classification, Porsche retains its lead after round two of the season. In the drivers’ championship, Christensen/Estre have moved into the lead ahead of their works driver colleagues Bruni/Lietz (position 3).

In the GTE-Am category, the Porsche customer team Project 1 celebrated its first podium result of the season. Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), Ben Keating (USA) and Felipe Fraga (Brazil) achieved third place after a spirited chase in the No. 57 Porsche 911 RSR. The trio had taken up the race from the back of the grid. The No. 56 sister car, driven by Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) among others, crossed the finish line in seventh place. The two Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Dempsey-Proton Racing concluded the race on fifth and ninth place. The identical vehicle campaigned by Gulf Racing came eighth.

Round three of the 2019/2020 World Endurance Sports Car Championship will be contested on 10 November in Shanghai (China).

Comments on the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Motorsport): “After the one-two success at Silverstone we’ve now finished on the podium at Fuji with our new Porsche 911 RSR. We’re still at the top of the manufacturers’ championship, and a Porsche duo is also leading the driver’s classification. Our balance sheet looks good. We’re now feeling confident and full of excitement for the upcoming race in China.”

Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “The overall result with both vehicles doesn’t really meet our expectations, but we’re pleased about second place for the number 92 car. In the first two races of the season, we’ve secured a one-two at Silverstone as well as a podium result and pole position at Fuji. That’s a great start for our new Porsche 911 RSR. We’re heading to the next races feeling highly motivated.”

Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “Pole position on Saturday, second in the race on Sunday, we can be very pleased with this. Everything went according to plan with our number 92 car, but the number 91 vehicle was plagued with troubles. Damage from a puncture, a drive-through penalty and misfiring – it seems pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I hope that we’ve used up all the bad luck for the rest of the season. We’ll be back in full force again at Shanghai.”

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Early on in the race our car was strong. I managed to fight amongst the frontrunners and even take the lead for a long time. Then a penalty and a puncture threw us down the field. When the misfiring began, all our chances went up in smoke. Such things can sometimes happen with a brand new car. What’s important is that our vehicle has huge potential.”

Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “After the super pole position on Saturday, we were disappointed with how the race went for us on Sunday. Our pace was good at the beginning but unfortunately the penalty, tyre problem and misfiring relegated us to sixth place. We’ll now take a very good look at this and fix the problem.”

Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “After our bad luck in qualifying we started with one set of tyres less than all the other cars. We made up for this disadvantage with a perfect strategy and flawless work in the cockpit. After finishing in second place twice in a row we’re now at the top of the championship standings. Like last year, we’d like to retain this position until the end of the season.”

Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “When you start from the last grid spot and cross the finish line in second, then you’ve definitely done everything right. Our strategy worked perfectly, we got the absolute maximum out of it. Thanks to this podium result, Kévin and I are now leading the world championship. We’re certainly can’t complain about that.”

Race result
GTE-Pro class
1. Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 211 laps
2. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 210 laps
3. Lynn/Martin (GB/B), Aston Martin Vantage, 210 laps
6. Lietz/Bruni (A/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 208 laps

GTE-Am class
1. Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam (TR/IRL/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 208 laps
2. Perrodo/Collard/Nielsen (F/F/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE, 207 laps
3. Keating/Fraga/Bleekemolen (USA/BR/NL), Porsche 911 RSR, 207 laps
5. Campbell/Ried/Pera (AUS/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 207 laps
7. Perfetti/Heinemeier Hansson/Cairoli (N/DK/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 206 laps
8. Wainwright/Barker/Watson (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 204 laps
9. Preining/de Leener/Hoshino (A/B/J), Porsche 911 RSR, 198 laps

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