Porsche 911’s Miss Out on Bahrain Podium

Despite an inspired charge through the field on the Bahrain International Circuit it was not enough for the Porsche 911 RSR to secure a podium spot for the first time in this year’s sports car World Endurance Championship, two weeks after a brilliant double victory in Shanghai. In the number 91 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR, Porsche works drivers Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) scored fourth place in the highly competitive GTE-Pro class at the penultimate round of the season in the Kingdom of Bahrain at the Persian Gulf. Their factory pilot colleagues and Shanghai winners Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet from France saw the flag in fifth at the wheel of the number 92 vehicle.

It was already clear in qualifying that the Porsche 911 RSR would face a difficult race in the hot and humid weather conditions on the 5.407 kilometre Grand Prix circuit outside the capital of Manama. For this reason, the Porsche Manthey squad decided to use a different strategy than the opposition. During the early first safety car phase, the two works vehicles from Weissach were called into the pits for servicing, while the competition stayed out on the track. At first this strategy looked as if it might work: After the first hour of racing, Richard Lietz was running at the head of the GT field with Frédéric Makowiecki close behind on second place. At the 2.15-hour mark, Jörg Bergmeister was leading in the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR. Halfway through the race when the Bahrain International Circuit was already in darkness, his teammate Richard Lietz was back at the front.

This was to be the last time in the lead for a Porsche 911 RSR on this day. The hopes of the strategists behind the pit wall that this rhythm would continue and a quick splash-and-dash refuelling stop shortly before the end of the race would be enough to salvage a top placing were dashed due to the unusually low number of safety car phases. Before his final pit stop at the beginning of the sixth race hour, Richard Lietz was on course for a podium spot in third place. Jörg Bergmeister took the wheel the car for the last stint which had fallen back to fourth after the last stop, and launched an attack on the Ferrari in front of him. Ultimately he missed out on a podium result by a little over two seconds after he was significantly hindered by a sports prototype and lost direct contact to the vehicle in front. At the penultimate round of a gripping season, the Porsche Team Manthey had to settle for positions four and five.

Comments after the race

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “The teams and drivers again made the most out of a difficult starting position today. In the first stint we made the wrong tyre choice and for that reason we weren’t able to secure a better result in the race. The WEC rounds are so close that even the slightest mistake cannot be rectified with a massive effort out on the track. This result has significantly reduced our chances of taking the title at the season finale in Sao Paulo.”

Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet

Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “From the start I tried to put the pressure on. Our goal was to win and to defend Porsche’s chances in the championship. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible. We’ll now analyse why this happened and then hopefully take the right steps for the season finale in Sao Paulo.”

Porsche Team Manthey: Frederic Makowiecki

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We’re disappointed of course. It was a difficult race. We couldn’t come up with the performance today that would have given us a winning chance. Now we’ll look for the causes. Everyone in the team did everything they could and the mechanics did a perfect job during pit stops. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough this weekend.”

Porsche Team Manthey: Joerg Bergmeister

Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Just before the flag, three LMP vehicles passed me and one of them pretty much stopped in front of me. I had to drive completely into the dirt and this allowed the Ferrari to pull ahead more. I was only several tenths of seconds behind him and at this stage I was even a little faster. But by the time the tyres were clean again the Ferrari was long gone. Other than that, it was a difficult race. Compared to qualifying we’ve taken a step forward and that should make us feel positive. Hopefully we’ll be back on track in Sao Paulo.”

Porsche Team Manthey: Richard Lietz

Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “That was a really tough race. We did everything we could and we shouldn’t blame ourselves that we didn’t do enough. But this time we didn’t have a chance. We had to look after our tyres and still push hard every lap – obviously this was very difficult. It’s unbelievable how fast the competition was today. Hopefully for Sao Paulo we’ll find a way to get back on the road to success.”

The final round of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC is held on 30 November in Sao Paulo/Brazil.

Race result
GTE-Pro class
1. Bruni/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 458 Italia, 173 laps
2. Turner/Mücke (GB/D), Aston Martin Vantage, 173
3. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 173
4. Bergmeister/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 173
5. Makowiecki/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 172
6. MacDowall/Al Faisal/Rees (GB/KSA/BRA), Aston Martin Vantage, 170

GTE-Am class
1. Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim (DK/DK/DK), Aston Martin, 172 laps
2. Rugolo/Bertolini/Wyatt (I/I/AUS), Ferrari F458 Italia, 171
3. Lamy/Dalla Lana/Nygaard (P/CAN/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 171
4. Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi (D/A/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, 170
5. Roda/Ruberti/Cressoni (I/I/I), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 170
6. Segal/Talkanitsa/Pier Guidi (USA/I/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 170
7. Collard/Perrodo/Vaxivière (FRA/FRA/FRA), Porsche 911 RSR, 170

Points standings after 7 of 8 races
World Endurance Cup GT Drivers
1. Giancarlo Bruni, Toni Vilander (Ferrari) 156 points
2. Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche) 116.5
3. Richard Lietz (Porsche) 103
4. Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche) 91
5. Patrick Pilet (Porsche) 90.5

World Cup Manufacturers GTE
1. Ferrari 261 points
2. Porsche 236
3. Aston Martin 196

FIA Endurance Trophy GTE-Pro Teams
1. AF Corse (Ferrari) 156 points
2. Porsche Team Manthey (Porsche #92) 130
3. Porsche Team Manthey (Porsche #91) 114
4. Aston Martin Racing (Aston Martin) 112