The 1000Km de SPA has once again written history, this time for rather odd reasons: Due to a power outage, round two of the Le Mans Series was halted for almost one hour. Porsche’s winning pair Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) however did not let this distract them and they celebrated their second GT2 class win of the season in the 911 GT3 RSR. With many of the faster prototype class vehicles involved in accidents, Lieb and Lietz even managed to cross the finish line in fifteenth overall. With their win, the two title defenders driving for the German Felbermayr-Proton team further extended their points’ lead. Several other Porsche teams finished in the top ten in positions five, eight and nine.
“That was one exciting race,” stated Marc Lieb. “Even the first stint was no walk in the park – it suddenly bucketed down on the two fastest passages. But I enjoyed the difficult conditions – the 911 also runs beautifully on a damp track. Once again our clever team strategy was the key to success.” Richard Lietz added: “Fortune and misfortune balanced each other out during the safety car phases. I’m relieved we didn’t get caught up in any of the accidents. Some of the boys drove like there was no tomorrow.”
Works driver Patrick Pilet and his French compatriot Raymond Narac (IMSA Performance Matmut) experienced an interesting race. Shortly after the start Pilet spun on the wet track and ruined his tyres when he came off the track. He had to struggle with strong vibrations for the last hour of the race at the back of the field and managed to fight his way up the pack to finish sixth. “What a crazy race,” declared Pilet. “After the fright at the start, everything ran smoothly. The 911 GT3 RSR had such a great balance that we were well prepared for all conditions.” His partner Narac, a Porsche dealer from Rouen and ambitious hobby racer, was thrilled: “After our bad luck at the season-opener at least we have a decent result with fifth.”
After their sensational podium result at the season-opener, the second pairing of the Felbermayr team saw the flag in eighth. “The safety car phase turned today’s race into a poker game,” said works driver Patrick Long (USA). “We had to wait for ages in the pit exit. That dashed our hopes for a further podium result.” Long shares driving duties in the 911 with Martin Ragginger (Germany) and team boss Christian Ried (Germany).
Porsche junior Marco Holzer (Germany) and reigning FIA GT champion Richard Westbrook (Great Britain) saw the flag in ninth position. “Unluckily we lost a lot of positions with our pit stop timing when the race was halted and during the caution phases but we didn’t let it get us down,” remarked Westbrook. “After all, things ran much better for our team at the second Le Mans Series race than at the premiere.” Holzer believed: “We’ve made great strides with the set-up of our 911 – and we achieved our goal of earning points. So all is good.”
The two Porsche works drivers lent to Audi, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) took up the race from second place and were sitting third when they were also forced to wait at the pit exit during a safety car phase and fell back to fifth position. At the wheel of the Audi R15 TDI, the pair finished fifth after six hours of racing.
Statistics: round 2 of the Le Mans Series in Spa-Francorchamps
Result GT2 class
1. Lieb/Lietz (DEU/AUT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 123 laps
2. Bruni/Melo (ITA/BRA), Ferrari F430 GT, 123
3. Fisichella/Vilander/Alesi (ITA/FIN/FRA), Ferrari F430 GT, 123
4. Priaulx/Müller/Farfus (GBR/DEU/BRA), BMW M3, 123
5. Pilet/Narac (FRA/FRA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 123
6. Kirkaldy/Mullen (GBR/GBR), Ferrari F430 GT, 122
7. Coronel/Dumbreck (NLD/GBR), Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R, 121
8. Ried/Ragginger/Long (DEU/AUT/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 121
9. Holzer/Westbrook (GER/GBR), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 121
10. Farnbacher/Simonsen (DEU/DNK), Ferrari F430 GT, 121
The points’ standings after the second round of the Le Mans Series are available around four hours after the end of the race on the series’ official website www.lemans-series.com.
Round three of the Le Mans Series takes place on Saturday, 17 July, as a night race on the Circuit de l’Algarve near Portimao in Portugal.
– Porsche Motorsport