Porsche frustrated at the 24-hours of Spa
Customer teams battle through the Belgian 24-hour race
Porsche’s privateers faced a tough 24 hours at Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend, with only one of the 10 cars that made the start finishing inside the top ten. The KCMG 911 GT3 R driven by local heroes Maxime Martin and Laurens Vanthoor, alongside last year’s winner Nick Tandy, crossed the finish line in fifth place after 554 laps. They were seven positions ahead of the next-best 911 – the KCMG sister car driven by Josh Burdon, Alexandre Imperatori and Edoardo Liberati.
In the Pro-Am class, Will Bamber, his New Zealand compatriot Reid Harker, Carlos Rivas and Wolfgang Triller finished in 20th place in the EBM Giga Racing GT3 R, six places ahead of Herberth Motorsport’s No. 911 Porsche crewed by Antares Au, Daniel Allemann and the brothers Alfred and Robert Renauer. There was reason to celebrate in the Am category, however, which was won by Pieder Decourtins, Marc Basseng, Dennis Busch and Manuel Lauck in the Haegeli by T2 Racing.
The start of the race was marred by a serious accident at Raidillon which signalled an early end for Rutronik Racing’s 911 driven by Sven Müller and works drivers Kévin Estre and Richard Lietz. The substantial incident resulted in a caution phase that lasted almost an hour, soon followed by a heavy rain shower that caused further chaos when the race restarted.
The attrition would continue for Porsche as the race wore on. The GPX Racing entry driven by Earl Bamber and works drivers Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet had to retire in the night with steering problems. Dinamic Motorsport also withdrew both its cars before the 16-hour mark; the No. 56 GT3 R due to several drive through penalties and the sister car to brake repairs and then a faulty alternator.
This left the Schnabl Engineering entry driven by Norwegians Michael Christensen and Dennis Olsen and the French works driver Frédéric Makowiecki as the best-placed 911. But their race was over just before dawn when contact with a rival led to an accident.
The two KCMG 911 GT3 R battled on alone through the remainder of the race. Another unexpected challenge arose for the No. 47 car when Vanthoor was involved in an accident in the paddock and taken to hospital as a precaution, leaving Tandy and Martin to complete the race as a duo. In the final hour, another heavy downpour allowed the pair to make up two places and move into fifth.
“That was a typical 24-hour race for Spa-Francorchamps,” said Sebastian Golz Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “First a major accident, we had dry and wet track conditions and long caution phases. Ultimately, some of our Porsche 911 GT3 reached the finish line. Some had problems, others didn’t. Fifth place is a good result, congratulations to KCMG. Team Haegeli by T2 Racing won its Am class, congratulations to them, as well. Thank you to our customer teams. They demonstrated huge commitment this weekend. We’re now looking ahead and we’ll return to Spa next year stronger than ever – because we want to reclaim the 24-hour trophy.”
Round 4 of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup
Some 1,200km southeast of Spa-Francorchamps, round 4 of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup was also playing out over the weekend in support of the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Budapest. And the drama was in comparable supply from the start.
French guest driver Marvin Klein, who was only invited to race in the Supercup round last Monday, took pole position in qualifying before easing his way to an assured lights-to-flag victory on Sunday ahead of an experienced field of regulars. But Klein was ultimately to be denied the richly deserved win when subsequent technical scrutineering revealed that his car was carrying insufficient fuel. This promoted runner-up and current championship leader Larry ten Voorde to the top spot. The Dutchman was generous about his inherited win, however: “Marvin was clearly the best today, a few kilograms of fuel in the tank would not have made any difference.”
Nevertheless, the result helps the defending Supercup champion extend his lead by 17 points over New Zealander Jaxon Evans, who came in second, with third place going to Florian Latorre.