Stuttgart. The stage is set for an exciting finale to the Sports Car World Championship WEC (World Endurance Championship): All titles in the strongly represented and fiercely contested GTE-Pro class will only be decided at the final race of the season on 21 November at the Bahrain International Circuit.
After scoring victories at the Nürburgring, in Austin and recently in Shanghai, Porsche now travels to the desert kingdom with excellent championship chances: The Porsche Manthey squad fields two 470 hp 911 RSR in Bahrain and currently leads the team classification. Richard Lietz ranks first in the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers. In the manufacturers’ classification, Porsche sits second just four points shy of the top spot. In Bahrain, however, manufacturers can still earn a maximum of 44 points.
The Porsche drivers
Richard Lietz (Austria) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) share driving duties in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR on the 5.407-kilometer Grand Prix circuit, which was built a half-hour drive southwest of the capital Manama in 2004. This season, the pair has already scored victories from the Nürburgring, Austin and Shanghai. In the cockpit of the sister 911 RSR (No. 92) are their French teammates Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet.
Two customer teams campaign the 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class: Competing for Dempsey Proton Racing, Christian Ried (Germany) stands in for US actor and race driver Patrick Dempsey (USA), and joins forces with Patrick Long (USA) and Marco Seefried (Germany). Driving for Abu Dhabi Proton Racing are Klaus Bachler (Austria), Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) and Marco Mapelli (Italy).
The Porsche 911 RSR
The 470-hp Porsche 911 RSR is the racing version of the iconic 911 sportscar, the best-selling road-going sports car worldwide, and crowned its maiden 2013 season with a double GTE-Pro class victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours. In the United SportsCar Championship run in the USA and Canada, Porsche netted all championship titles in the GTLM class this season. The winning racer mounted with a flat-six engine in the rear is characterized by a consequent lightweight design and sophisticated aerodynamics. The insights gained during the vehicle’s development and at race outings are directly incorporated into the design of future 911 generations.
The six-hour race on the Bahrain International Circuit gets underway on Saturday, 21 November, at 15.00 hrs local time (13.00 hrs CET). Eurosport broadcasts the last hour of racing from 18.00 hours as well as the podium ceremony live.
Comments before the race:
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “This finale promises to be extremely exciting. The fact that all titles in the GTE-Pro class will be decided at the last race speaks volumes for the strength and balance of the grid, especially in this category, and it’s a reflection of the competitive spirit shown by the manufacturers, drivers and teams over the entire season. Thanks to our Shanghai win, we have improved our chances of winning the title. In the second half of the season we launched a charge back to the top, and in Bahrain we’ll now do everything we can to bring this endeavor to a successful conclusion and claim all three titles.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “The final round will be a real challenge. This is partly due to the special characteristics of the Bahrain circuit, which proves very demanding for the brakes. Added to this are the extreme temperatures, which could be a problem for the tires in particular. It’ll be crucial then how we manage to cope with tire wear. We are all extremely focused on this final race of the year. Our recent win in Shanghai has definitely given the team a huge boost in motivation.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR No. 91): “Bahrain wasn’t great for us last year. But we won’t let ourselves be influenced by this. This season we’ve mastered many difficult situations and gained valuable experience through this. We’ll now try to implement what we’ve learned. We tackle the season finale with utmost concentration and feeling highly motivated.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR No. 91): “This racetrack is really tough on the tires. For this reason we need to find a setup for our 911 RSR so that we can drive a good hour on one set of tires. I am trying my best to tune out the thought of a possible title win. We must drive a flawless race, we need a perfect strategy and definitely a little luck. Then we have good chances in our bid for the titles.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR No. 92): “There is a lot at stake for Porsche in Bahrain. But we’re well prepared and highly motivated. Thanks to the great progress we’ve made since Le Mans, we’re travelling to the season finale with good chances to claim the championship. Of course, we want win as many titles as possible for Porsche. When everything works out well, then we should be able to do this.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR No. 92): “I like the Bahrain racetrack. It’s a real stop-go circuit and therefore pretty tough on the brakes. There is no other circuit on the WEC calendar where we have to brake so often and so hard. The tires could possibly play a decisive role, too. But this year we’ve found a very good compromise which should also serve us well in Bahrain. This will definitely be an exciting season finale.”
Patrick Long (Porsche 911 RSR No. 77): “I’m really looking forward to racing in Bahrain after my last race there in 2004. The track is very demanding, a real challenge. The tires will certainly be a decisive factor. We had the chance to test on the track and so we’re well prepared. The thing I find most appealing about Bahrain is the hospitality of the people here.”
The Sports Car World Championship WEC
Sports prototypes and GT vehicles contest the Sports Car World Championship WEC (World Endurance Championship) in four classes: LMP1 (e.g., Porsche 919 Hybrid), LMP2, LMGTE-Pro (e.g., 911 RSR) and LMGTE-Am (e.g., 911 RSR, 2014 homologation). They all compete together in one race but are classified separately.
Source: Kind courtesy of Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft