Le Mans Series, round 4 on the Nürburgring
At a gripping home race, the Porsche works drivers took a large step towards winning the title. Securing a hard-fought win on the Nürburgring, Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) snatched back the championship lead in the GT2 class at the fourth and penultimate round of the season. In mid-summer temperatures, the top pair of the German Felbermayr-Proton team drove a brilliant race in their 911 GT3 RSR – and in three weeks travel to the final of the Le Mans Series in Silverstone (Great Britain) as title favourites with an eight point advantage. Works driver Patrick Pilet and his teammate Raymond Narac (both France) claimed fifth for their IMSA Performance Matmut team, and with seventh position, the second Felbermayr 911 racer rounded off the good Porsche result at the German 1,000 kilometre race.
Gallery after the jump
‘We are absolutely thrilled to have taken back the points’ lead with our win. It’s fantastic that we have gained so much of an advantage and can win the championship by virtue of our own strength,’ said a beaming Marc Lieb, who already won the GT2 title in 2005 and 2006 in the LMS. ‘It was a fiercely tough race,’ added teammate Richard Lietz. ‘Our car was not easy to handle on the Nürburgring and the tyres deteriorated more than usual by the end of our stints. We can thank our team for this win. At every pit stop they managed to make up time against our rivals. Once, the Felbermayr boys were an unbelievable 18 seconds faster than our closest opponent. Congratulations and thank you!’ The race was exciting from the first to the last minute. Early on in the race, Lieb was caught up behind two Ferraris for many laps, allowing the rival for the title to pull away. Finally, in a breathtaking manoeuvre, Marc Lieb managed to overtake Pierre Kaffer and charge forward. Over many laps Lietz/Lieb were sitting in third. Second position was handed to them when their opponent in front experienced a technical defect – and the lead came finally with Richard Lietz’s overtaking manoeuvre. ‘After such bad luck in Portugal, where we lost the possible win and championship lead through no fault of our own in an accident, luck was on our side this time,’ summarised a satisfied Lieb.
It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the French IMSA squad, after narrowly missing out on their first team win in the LMS with second place in Portugal. During the first stint, Patrick Pilet made up positions to move into fourth. Shortly after the first driver swap, Raymond Narac had to come in for an additional pit stop because a prototype had hit his right rear wheel. By the time Narac had pitted with a puncture and the damage was repaired, several GT2 opponents had passed him. ‘We were doing so well and held all the trump cards for another podium result. It’s like a curse that again a hasty competitor has robbed us of our ambition,’ believed Pilet. ‘As expected, during the race the handling of our car improved with the increasing grip on the track.’ A determined Raymond Narac said: ‘After coming second at the last race and the good team effort in the Eifel, we are looking towards the finale with confidence. Our aim is to secure the team’s first win in the Le Mans Series.’
The trio in the third 911 was pleased. ‘Everything ran smoothly today. The second seventh place in four races is a good result for us,’ said the German driver and team owner Christian Ried, who shared driving duties with Horst Felbermayr Jnr. (Austria) and Francisco Cruz Martins (Portugal).
Statistics: 4th of 5 races in the Le Mans Series on the Nürburgring
Result GT2 class
1. Lieb/Lietz (DEU/AUT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 174 laps
2. Coronel/Janis (NLD/CZE), Spyker C8 Laviolette GTR-2, 172
3. Ehret/Farnbacher/Beltoise (DEU/DEU/FRA), Ferrari F430 GT, 172
4. Simonsen/Kaffer (DNK/DEU), Ferrari F430 GT, 172
5. Pilet/Narac (FRA/FRA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 171
6. Montermini/Ricci/Rosa (ITA/ITA/ITA), Ferrari F430 GT, 169
7. Ried/Cruz Martins/Felbermayr Jr. (DEU/POR/AUT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 169
8. Garcia/Mansell/Vilander (ESP/GBR/FIN), Ferrari F430 GT, 169
9. Bell/Bruni (GBR/ITA), Ferrari F430 GT, 169
GT2 drivers’ classification
1. Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Porsche, 33 points
2. Robert Bell, Gianmaria Bruni, Ferrari, 25
3. Pierre Ehret, Ferrari, 21
4. Antonio Garcia, Leo Mansell, Ferrari, 19
5. Anthony Beltoise, Dominik Farnbacher, Allan Simonsen, Ferrari, 16
6. Patrick Pilet, Raymond Narac, Porsche, 15
GT2 manufacturers’ classification
1. Ferrari, 57 points
2. Porsche, 50
3. Spyker, 10
4. Aston Martin, 3
The fifth and final round of the 2009 Le Mans Series takes place from 11 to 13 September in Silverstone (Great Britain).