Porsche’s already extensive trophy cabinet grew even larger over the weekend as works entries enjoyed victories in both the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC in Bahrain and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Sebring.
In the eight-hour race on the Bahrain International Circuit, the no.92 911 RSR of Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen crossed the finish line in first place, followed by teammates Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni. The latest generation RSR made its debut some fourteen months ago and has now enjoyed three victories in the GTE-Pro category.
“We managed to conclude the debut season of our latest 911 RSR as we began it in Silverstone, which now feels like an eternity ago: with a one-two result in the FIA WEC,” said Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “With a total of three victories in its maiden season, we’ve clearly showcased the potential of this racing vehicle. For this, I’d like to thank everyone involved here in Bahrain as well as those back at our workshop in Weissach.”
Kévin Estre added: “This was a very important success for Porsche. Unfortunately, we were out of contention for the championship but we knew this before the weekend. We defended first place at the start and led the field on almost every lap – although our huge advantage shrunk due to the safety car phase at halftime. After that, we had to work hard to eke out an advantage again. There were several different tyre strategies. The sister car kept a fresh set more for the race; we wanted to drive on the tyres as consistently as possible through the race. Ultimately, things got pretty exciting again between us. I’m very, very proud of this team.”
Meanwhile, halfway around the world, Porsche enjoyed another one-two finish in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar 12 hours of Sebring. In the final factory contested race, the No.911 car of Nick Tandy, Frédéric Makowiecki and Earl Bamber finished fastest, followed by the No.912 car of Laurens Vanthoor and Neel Jani, also shared by Earl Bamber.
In an eventful twelve-hour race in Florida, the result of the GTLM class came down to the final 15 minutes of the race. After the last of nine safety car phases, Tandy had manoeuvred himself into the slipstream of the leading BMW. Shortly after the last restart, the frontrunner sustained tyre damage in the aftermath of a collision between several GTD vehicles. Tandy snatched the lead and held tight to his front spot to the flag.
For Tandy and his teammate Makowiecki, this was the third victory in a row at the esteemed Sebring endurance classic. Bamber, who drove stints in both works cars at the season finale of the North American sports car racing series, crossed the finish line in second place, just 9.025 seconds behind. The Porsche factory squad concluded the last season with the 911 RSR in the GTLM class ranking third in the championship.
Speaking after the race, Head of Operations IMSA Championship, Steffen Höllwarth said: “I’m incredibly proud of the team. This weekend wasn’t easy for us. Because of the upcoming farewell, the mood was different than usual, but everyone coped just fine. We weren’t the fastest in the field, but we were the ones who made the least mistakes – and that’s how things like this happen. Suddenly you find yourself at the front. After three straight wins at Sebring, I’d say that this track has become our turf. Now it’s time to celebrate!”
Nick Tandy added: “Our third straight win at Sebring, plus a double victory for Porsche – at the last outing of our works team no less! It doesn’t get better than that! Despite all the rejoicing, I feel very sad at the same time. We’ve scored so many incredible victories over the past few years and I’ve grown very close to the team. We’ll party hard tonight – so hard, in fact, that unfortunately we’ll have to postpone the loading of equipment into the trucks until tomorrow.”
Shortly before the race, the works team bid the loyal fans of the Porsche 911 RSR farewell with a special spectacle. Five GTLM vehicles of the 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 generations turned three parade laps on the legendary circuit in Florida decked out in the much-loved liveries of Brumos, Mobil1, Coca-Cola and the special “Thank You” farewell wrap. To the delight of spectators, the drivers Laurens Vanthoor, Frédéric Makowiecki, Patrick Long, Jonathan Benett and Cooper MacNeil performed wheel spins and let the engines roar.
On Wednesday evening, Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport) and Head of Operations Steffen Höllwarth thanked all employees of the Core Autosport squad at an emotional team event.