911 in Motorsport: FIA World Endurance Championship Bahrain race report

Porsche 911 RSR Bahrain 91
Patrick Pilet and Jörg Bergmeister secured their third successive podium in the FIA WEC’s Bahrain finale.

In the heat of the Bahrain desert, Porsche AG Team Manthey finished the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship with another well-earned podium. However, despite the second place, the coveted WEC title eluded the factory Porsche 911 team.

With the two 911 RSRs now sporting the 2014-specification Evolution kit, the number 92 machine of Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb took pole position, with teammates Patrick Pilet and Jörg Bergmeister starting directly behind in second.

However, just four laps into the six-hour championship decider, Lietz and Lieb’s slim hopes of taking the drivers’ crown took a physical blow after an LMP2 competitor spun into them, damaging one of the rear wheels.

Porsche 911 RSR Bahrain 92
Lieb and Lietz took pole but were taken out of contention by a prototype early in the race.

The subsequent pitstop put the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR a lap down on their opposition and, despite the championship-leading Aston Martin retiring from the event, Lietz and Lieb’s eventual fourth place was not enough to give them the title.

“This was a disappointing result for us. When you start on pole you should finish up the front. This wasn’t our fault today”, explained Lieb. Lietz still retained a positive outlook for the 2014 season though.

“Our car has proven itself”, he explained. “It was quick in both qualifying and the race, and the tyres lasted much longer than at the previous race in Shanghai. We have a good car for next year, anything is possible in 2014.”

Bergmeister Pilet Bahrain podium
Bergmeister and Pilet may have missed out on a win but 2013 has still be successful for the pairing.

While luck did not seem to be on the side of number 92, Pilet and Bergmeister’s number 91 machine was upholding some of Porsche’s pride around the Bahrain International Circuit.

With the race starting in the dusk, and quickly descending into darkness, Pilet jumped into the lead early on. The Frenchman managed to fend off the attacks of the AF Corse Ferrari 458 before the first round of pitstops reversed the order.

With Gianmaria Bruni’s Ferrari now in the lead, Pilet and Bergmeister put up a spirited chase. The 2014-specification 911 RSR was the only car that could truly hold a candle to the lead 458 Italia.

Porsche 911 RSR FIA WEC Bahrain darkness
The #91 RSR enjoyed a tight battle with the lead AF Corse Ferrari as the race descended into desert darkness.

However, after six hours of racing, the number 91 machine would have to settle for second place, providing Pilet and Bergmeister with their fifth podium of the year and, after Fuji and Shanghai, their third podium finish in a row.

In the GTE-Am class, the IMSA Performance squad also missed out on their class title. Raymond Narac, Jean-Karl Vernay, and Markus Palttala qualified fifth in their Matmut-sponsored Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.

However, a difficult race in the desert left the French team seven points short of eventual champions, Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall in their Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

IMSA Performance 911 GT3 RSR Bahrain
Like the factory cars, IMSA Performance also missed out on a GTE title with their 997 GT3 RSR coming home sixth.

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