911 in Motorsport: FIA World Endurance Championship Bahrain race report
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.
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.”
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.
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.