One-two, one-two: Porsche ends the season with one-two wins across the board
The perfect finish for our factory campaigns around the world
An incredible weekend for Porsche Motorsport has seen its GT teams take one-two victories in the final rounds of both the IMSA and the World Endurance Championships. The first of these historic wins came at the 8 Hours of Bahrain, where a perfect weekend for Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen saw the pair put their car on pole position before crossing the finish line first. Their teammates Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni fought their way from fourth on the grid to finish right behind them in second.
Barbara Frings celebrates with Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen at the WEC season finale in Bahrain
As anticipated, tyre strategy proved paramount in Bahrain. The race began in high heat with Estre expertly defending his lead. The No. 92 RSR only relinquished the top spot once when pitting for fuel, regaining the position shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, the No. 91 sister car caught up with the leaders after the one and only safety car in a largely incident-free finale. On cooling asphalt, Lietz and Bruni moved into second place with three hours to go and maintained their pace for a perfect result.
This was the third win in eight races for Porsche’s factory campaign in WEC, enough to see it clinch second place in the manufacturer’s championship. “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.”
Porsche also won the GTE-Am class with the Project 1 customer team, driven by Porsche brand ambassador Jörg Bergmeister, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup winner Larry ten Voorde (Netherlands) and Egidio Perfetti.
“A pole position, first and second places in the Pro category and first in the Am class, what more do we want?” commented Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC. “The balance of the cars was super and, unlike the others, we didn’t have any problems. We’ve experienced a long, tough year with several setbacks. This makes it all the more wonderful that we can head into the winter break with this success. It was ‘summa cum laude’ effort from the entire team. We’ll take this motivation with us and do our utmost to build on this performance at Sebring next year.”
And it was at Sebring that the second grand finale of 2020 was already playing out. Having qualified in fifth and sixth in IMSA’s GTLM category, the two factory-entered 911 RSR had it all to do in their last outing in the series.
Left to right: Laurens Vanthoor, Neel Jani, Earl Bamber, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy
Shortly before the start, the works team bid loyal fans farewell with the unique spectacle of five GTLM RSR from 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 taking parade laps in the much-loved liveries of Brumos, Mobil1, Coca-Cola and the special “Thank You” farewell wrap.
The ensuing race would prove to be equally memorable, lapping the famously bumpy and unforgiving Sebring circuit for twelve hours straight. Following the last of nine safety car phases, Nick Tandy was in the slipstream of the leading BMW when it sustained tyre damage in the aftermath of an incident involving backmarkers. Tandy snatched the lead and held on to it for what would be the third victory in a row at Sebring for the British racer and his French teammate Frédéric Makowiecki. Earl Bamber, who drove stints in both works cars, crossed the finish line in second place in the sister car shared with Laurens Vanthoor and Neel Jani, just 9.025 seconds behind the winners.
The Porsche factory team concluded its last season with the 911 RSR in the GTLM class third in the championship. After contesting a total of 75 races since 2014, the North American Porsche works team has achieved 21 wins and 56 podiums.
“Our third straight win at Sebring, plus a double victory for Porsche – at the last outing of our works team no less!” said a jubilant Nick Tandy. “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.”
There were also huge celebrations for the Wright Motorsports 911 GT3 R driven by Patrick Long, Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen. Despite a lack of grip at times and an unplanned change of the brakes, the trio maintained their composure to finish first in the GTD class, wrapping up the championship just two points shy of the title.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport, summed up a stunning final weekend of racing for Porsche in 2020: “That’s just crazy. There’s no better way to wrap up a factory programme. At the end of our IMSA campaign, we secured three wins in a row at Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca and now Sebring. That’s phenomenal. Congratulations as well to our customer squad Wright Motorsports. And let’s not forget our one-two success today at the WEC in Bahrain. There, too, we managed to celebrate another class win with a customer team. It was an incredibly successful day for Porsche Motorsport.”