911 in Motorsport: FIA WEC & ALMS report
Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet guided their number 91 Porsche 911 RSR to third place in the World Endurace Championship’s fourth round at Sao Paulo, Brazil. However, north of the American border, all three GTE 911s were knocked out of the Baltimore ALMS race before it had even begun.
During the six hours of racing around the Interlagos circuit, the two works Porsche AG Team Manthey entries managed to get involved in all of the major incidents that determined the outcome of the GT Pro result.
After starting second in class, the Le Mans-winning car of Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz was almost immediately in the wars. Just minutes after the lights had turned green, the number 92 car was hit by one of the Ferraris.
Despite a broken front-right wheel, Lieb was able to crawl back to the pits. Unfortunately, with the race in its early stages, the field was bunched tightly, leaving the Porsche 911 RSR down at the bottom of the GTE Pro standings, nearly a lap down on the leading Aston Martin.
In the second hour of the Brazilian WEC race, the afternoon became even more eventful for runners in the GTE class. After an hour-long safety car period, one of the leading Ferraris suffered a large fire, destroying the rear end of the car.
Another safety car was needed, creating yet more respite from the frantic action.
After all the incidents and a delay in the pits for the leading Aston Martin, the number 91 car of Bergmeister and Pilet (starting from seventh) found itself leading the GT Pro standings.
Towards the end of the second hour, the second-placed Ferrari began to put the leading Porsche 911 RSR under pressure. Eventually, Bergmeister had to concede to the faster car.
Just as the lead had been taken from the Team Manthey car, one of the lapped Ferraris spun in front of Bergmeister. Thankfully, the Porsche escaped the intial incident untouched. However, the Aston Martin behind did not brake in time, cannoning into the back of the lead 911.
Although this left the number 91 entry out of touch with the class leaders, the Porsche’s typically strong reliability meant that, as rivals fell by the wayside, Pilet was able to steer the car towards another podium finish for Stuttgart.
The high attrition amongst its class rivals also allowed the car of Lieb and Lietz to take the chequered flag in fourth place, only ceding a few points to the Aston Martin of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke in the GT Pro standings.
This leaves the number 92 just two points off of the Aston Martin in the championship standings, with the winning Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella just one point further back.
In the GTE Am battle, the Proton entry, piloted by Christian Ried, Gianluca Roda, and Paulo Ruberti finished third after a similarly hectic race to the works cars.
Chasing the Proton car home in fourth was the championship-leading IMSA Performance Matmut car of Raymond Narac, Jean-Karl Vernay, and Christophe Bourret. The French trio were able to defend their lead in the GTE Am Endurace Trophy standings.
Baltimore should have been a happy hunting ground for the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competitors in the American Le Mans Series.
The harbour-side circuit has proved especially successful for Team Falken Tires, who have taken successive victories at the track for the past two years.
This year though, none of the GT class Porsches would see the end of the first lap of the two-hour encounter.
A chaotic start amongst the prototype cars at the head of the field saw the LMP2 entry of Scott Tucker turned around on the bumpy start straight.
The ensuing melee led to the Wolf Henzler/Bryan Sellers Team Falken 911 GT3 RSR slamming into the rear of Tom Kimber-Smith’s similar CORE Autosport entry as the Brit tried to avoid the carnage in front.
Behind, the Paul Miller Racing 911 was also collected the crash. With the track completely blocked, the race was red flagged for nearly an hour whilst the circuit was cleared of cars and debris.
Unfortunately, all three Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs were unable to take the restart in the shortened race, preventing Team Falken Tires from attempting to take their third successive Baltimore victory.