Tough day for the Porsche Team Manthey drivers at Fuji today.
The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR, which won the season opener at Silverstone, lost all its chances for clinching a top spot in the GTE-Pro class shortly after the start on the challenging Grand Prix circuit at the foot of Mount Fuji. Heading into the race from a promising second grid row position, Patrick Pilet (France) became tangled in a collision caused by another competitor, which resulted in major damages to his 911 RSR.
Repairs on the 470 hp GT racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, took a total of seven laps to complete. Re-entering the race at the back of the GT field, Patrick Pilet took up the chase, and in front of over 40,000 fans, he and his compatriot Frédéric Makowiecki saw the flag in sixth place. Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria), competing together for the first time for Porsche Team Manthey in Fuji, planted the sister 911 RSR two positions in front.
In the GTE-Am class, the Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Prospeed Competition secured third place after a gripping fight to the flag with an all-French driver line-up of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Matthieu Vaxivière. With this achievement, the customer team ensured that the Porsche 911 RSR notched up another podium spot in the fiercely-contested GT classes at the fifth round of the 2014 World Endurance Championship WEC.
After the double victory at the Silverstone season-opener, the best-placed 911 RSR run by Porsche Team Manthey finished second at both Spa/Belgium and Austin/USA, and third at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “Unfortunately we couldn’t do any better today. With one car we lost it all in the first corner. That was a shame and we couldn’t recover lost ground. The second crew did a great job but nothing more could be done there either. Something positive today was that our cars ran faultlessly, precisely as we had imagined. In the GTE-Am class our two customer teams put in a strong performance and went head-to-head for third place right up to the last metre.”
Jörg Bergmeister (#91): “We already saw in free practice that tyre wear would play a decisive role. We struggled right from the start, particularly with the rear axle where the tyres deteriorated badly.”
Richard Lietz (#91): “We certainly made the best out of the situation. The team did a great job and the pit stops were perfect. And we experienced no technical hiccups. So we should be satisfied, even if the result is not exactly what we had expected.”
Patrick Pilet (#92): “After just one corner our race was over. The Aston Martins crashed, one kept his foot on the throttle, swung to the inside and hit the side of my car. I had no chance to avoid contact. Our car was so badly damaged I had to pit and that was basically the end of our race. It was simply bad luck. Now we’re turning our attention to Shanghai. Hopefully we’ll have more luck there.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (#92): “Obviously that wasn’t quite the result we had anticipated. Over and out after just the first corner, but that’s what happens sometimes in motor racing. For us it was important to reach the flag without any further incidents and earn points. We managed this and that’s one positive thing we can take home from Fuji. At the next round in Shanghai we now have to try everything to make up for what we lost.”
The sixth of eight rounds in this year’s Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC is held in Shanghai/China on 2 November.
1. Bruni/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 458 Italia, 208 laps
2. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 208
3. MacDowall/O’Young/Rees (GB/HK/BRA), Aston Martin, 207
4. Bergmeister/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 207
5. Turner/Mücke (GB/D), Aston Martin, 204
6. Makowiecki/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 201
1. Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim (DK/DK/DK), Aston Martin, 207 laps
2. Lamy/Dalla Lana/Nygaard (P/CAN/DK), Aston Martin, 207
3. Collard/Perrodo/Vaxivière (FRA/FRA/FRA), Porsche 911 RSR, 204
4. Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi (D/A/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, 204
5. Curtis/Bleekemolen/Skeen (USA/NL/USA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 203
6. Wyatt/Rugolo/Bertolini (AUS/I/I), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 169