Reliable technology, faultless driving and perfect teamwork combined to lead the Porsche 911 to victory in all three championship titles in the GT2 class of the Le Mans Series this weekend (September 12) at Silverstone, Northants.
With fifth position for Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) in the 911 GT3 RSR at the 1,000 kilometre race, they successfully defended the title. The German Felbermayr team under the direction of owner Christian Ried (Germany) celebrated a convincing win of the Teams’ title for the first time. In the fiercely-contested GT2 category fought over by six renowned brands, Porsche secured the prestigious Manufacturers’ title. With an excellent second position at the finale, Porsche-Junior Marco Holzer (Germany) and Richard Westbrook (Great Britain) rounded off the perfect race Sunday for Porsche.
The three Championship titles in the Le Mans Series demonstrate once again that the best GT cars in the world are built by Porsche Motorsport. These triumphs continue this year’s success story, in which Porsche teams have already won the 24 hour races at Dubai, Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps. Across the Atlantic in the American Le Mans Series, the 911 GT3 RSR also leads its classification.
“It’s fantastic that we’ve defended the Championship title,” said an enthusiastic Marc Lieb, who is the most successful driver in the Le Mans Series with four Championship titles under his belt. “And we’re particularly thrilled that our Felbermayr squad was also rewarded with the Teams’ title, because one of the keys to our success was the perfect teamwork of the crew with the pit stops and our strategy. Everything fitted together like cogs in a wheel.”
Richard Lietz, for whom this marks his second Championship title after success in 2009, was also delighted. “What a year!” summarised the Austrian. “The fight in the GT2 class was even harder than last year, the Ferraris in particular were unbelievably strong. We had to fight hard at every race from the first to the last minute. In qualifying we were hardly ever the fastest, but thanks to the reliable technology of the 911 and the great teamwork we achieved three victories, and have now crowned the season with all titles for Porsche. We are truly proud of this.”
Lieb and Lietz had started the finale from third on the grid and initially held back in the 45-strong field in order not to take any risks on the way to claiming the title. When the sole remaining rival in the drivers’ classification, the Ferrari with ex-Formula 1 stars Jean Alesi and Giancarlo Fisichella, dropped down the field with problems, a huge weight fell from the shoulders of the leading Porsche pair.
Celebrations were also in order in the pits of the ProSpeed Competition 911 GT3 RSR. After securing the FIA GT Championship last year with Richard Westbrook, the Belgian crew were new to the Le Mans Series in 2010. “The adjustment was harder than expected. Everything was new for the team and the drivers,” said Westbrook. “We improved from race to race, but only here at the final did we manage to make a breakthrough.”
Heading into the race from fifth, Westbrook and his 22-year-old team-mate Marco Holzer gradually worked their way to the front. “I was so nervous, but at the same time focused,” said the Porsche-Junior at the finish. “It’s very important for our team to finish the season with such a great result. For me, the most difficult thing in the Le Mans Series was getting used to the faster sports prototypes which weren’t exactly considerate to us drivers from the lower classes in overtaking, while we were busy fighting for positions in our own category.”
For the French IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche team, sixth place at the final race was a conciliatory end to a season of mixed fortunes. After clinching third place at the previous round in Hungary, Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet and his French compatriot Raymond Narac again had the podium in sight, but Narac was suffering from a bad bout of the ‘flu. For this reason, the Porsche dealer and gentleman driver from Rouen wasn’t able to follow on with his strong performance from the previous rounds. “Patrick had to do the bulk of the work,” said Narac. “The race was indeed strenuous,” stated Pilet. “But especially because the prototype drivers were very aggressive. Still, it was great fun to fight against our rivals on this super circuit. And our team can be proud, because we were always amongst the fastest in pit stops.”
In tenth place, the second Felbermayr 911 GT3 RSR rounded off the winning durability of Porsche at the final of the Le Mans Series, but the drivers were not totally satisfied. “Unfortunately, that was our worst result this season,” said Martin Ragginger. The Austrian joined forces with team owner Christian Ried for the season, with the two regular pilots receiving support at the final from Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas (France). The highlight for the number two Felbermayr 911 was second place at the season-opener in Le Castellet. But at the end in Silverstone, delight was the overriding emotion; in their first season together in the Le Mans Series, Ried and Ragginger finished in third place in the GT2 Drivers’ Championship.
The connection between the Porsche 911 and racing is unlike any that exists in the world of sports cars. At Porsche, motorsports is a mobile laboratory where engineering ideas are tested in the tough competitive environment of the race track. The lessons learned on the circuit translate directly to Porsche sports car on the road. With such a commitment to the proving grounds of motorsports, it’s not far from the finish line to the Porsche assembly line. The race-ready yet road-going versions of the 911 like the GT3 RS are made within the same assembly facilities as all other 911 models.
Le Mans Series Silverstone – Results GT2 class
1. Bruni/Melo (I/BR), Ferrari F430 GT, 147 laps
2. Westbrook/Holzer (GB/D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 147
3. Bell/Turner (GB/GB), Aston Martin V8 Vantage, 147
4. Mullen/Kirkaldy (GB/GB), Ferrari F430 GT, 146
5. Lieb/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 146
6. Pilet/Narac (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 145
7. Dumbreck/Coronel (GB/NL), Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R, 145
8. Müller/Werner (D/D), BMW M3, 145
10. Ried/Ragginger/Dumas (D/A/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 145
Points’ standings Le Mans Series GT2 class
1. Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Porsche, 87 points
2. Jean Alesi, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Ferrari, 63
3. Martin Ragginger, Christian Ried, Porsche, 55
4. Gianmaria Bruni, Jaime Melo, Ferrari, 52
5.Patrick Pilet, Raymond Narac, Porsche, 47
6. Luis Perez Companc, Matias Russo, Ferrari, 39