A successful season finale for Porsche: At the 1,000 kilometre race in Zhuhai/China, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid impressed once again with its performance and efficiency. The innovative sports car from Weissach, piloted by Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), was by far the fastest GT vehicle in the field at its eagerly awaited premiere in Asia. Porsche factory drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) claimed second place in the GT2 class with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on China’s oldest race track. With this result, they secured the team championship for their Felbermayr-Proton squad at the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, run for the first time this year.
“The first race in China with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid was a complete success,” says Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport. “The car contested the entire race without the slightest technical problem. The excellent pit stops by our factory squad from Weissach and an absolutely perfect performance from the drivers also contributed to this success. The development work on the hybrid system that we conducted since the last race in Road Atlanta has paid off. Today, we showed impressively just what potential the hybrid technology has. This result is a great motivation for continuing our work on the project. This was definitely not the last race for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid.”“Our car ran perfectly”
On the 4.319 kilometre Zhuhai International Circuit, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, which started in the special GTH class, was not only the fastest but also the most economical GT vehicle. Thanks to its ground-breaking drive concept, it made one less pit stop and completed three more laps than the next GT opponent. “Our car ran perfectly from the first to the last lap,” said Joerg Bergmeister. “That was another super test of the hybrid system under race conditions – and the most successful conclusion I could think of.” Patrick Long, his teammate with whom he won the GT title of the American Le Mans Series for the second time straight this season, said: “The performance of the Porsche factory mechanics was world class. We had the most efficient and at the same time fastest GT car. Now, that’s what I call Porsche Intelligent Performance.”Breathtaking chase through the pack
In the GT2 class, the race for start driver Marc Lieb did not begin very promisingly: Right in the first lap in a tussle with a Ferrari his 911 GT3 RSR suffered tyre damage which relegated it to last place. With a breathtaking chase through the pack, he and his teammate Richard Lietz quickly managed to catch up with the front-runners. At the halfway point in the race, the Felbermayr-Proton pilots, who clinched the GT title of the Le Mans Series for the second consecutive time this season, were already running third. Shortly afterwards they then overtook a Ferrari.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have enough for victory, but it’s still a great day for Porsche,” said Richard Lietz. “Obviously it was somewhat frustrating when Marc was forced back into the pits in the first lap with a torn-off valve. But we didn’t let that upset us and simply concentrated on working our way up the front again. Actually, it was huge fun – not least because our chase ended on the podium.” Marc Lieb added: “That was almost a perfect year for our team. Today we were very fast, but experienced a bit of bad luck early on in the race.”Felbermayr-Proton first in team classification
With the second 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the Felbermayr-Proton team, Martin Ragginger (Austria), Christian Ried (Germany) and Gianluca Roda (Italy) occupied fourth place – despite the botched and unnecessary overtaking manoeuvre of a Peugeot prototype that forced Martin Ragginger into the gravel trap in the last hour of the race. The former Porsche-Junior had to pit and lost ten minutes. In the Felbermayr-Proton camp, however, elation prevailed. “That was a fantastic year for our team. Firstly our win in Le Mans, then the Le Mans Series victory and now the best team in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup – you can’t really do more,” said Christian Ried, team boss and driver at Felbermayr-Proton. “To be so successful, everything has to run smoothly and that was exactly the case in our team. We didn’t retire once. Despite never having started from pole position, we won three races. That can only work with a good car, strong drivers and a super team.” One of the first to congratulate the crew was Hartmut Kristen: “I’m particularly thrilled that Felbermayr-Proton won the team classification.”
Despite his strong drive, Richard Westbrook (Great Britain) didn’t manage to see the flag with the Prospeed Competition 911 GT3 RSR. The double Supercup winner and former FIA GT champion was on course for a podium result with his teammate Darryl O’Young (Hong Kong) when a clutch problem in the 119th lap signalled the end. “What a shame. We were looking very good in third place,” he commented. “Our mechanics tried their very best to repair the car but time ran out for us.” Local hero Darryl O’Young said: “It was a fabulous experience to drive on this track with the 911 GT3 RSR and to be cheered by so many fans. I became more and more familiar with the car. Under normal circumstances we would have finished on the podium. That would have been a highlight in my career. What a shame it didn’t work out.”Statistics
Race result GT2 class1. Müller/Werner (D/D), BMW E92 M3, 202 laps2. Lieb/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2023. Bruni/Vilander/Melo (I/SF/BRA), Ferrari 430 GT, 1994. Ragginger/Ried/Roda (A/D/I), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1925. Ehret/Quaife/Kirkaldy (D/GB/GB), Ferrari 430 GT, 1916. Giroix/Goethe/Fatien (F/D/F), Lamborghini Gallardo, 187
Final standings team classification GT2 class1. Felbermayr-Proton, Porsche, 72 points2. AF Corse, Ferrari, 573. CRS Racing, Ferrari, 47
Final standings manufacturer classification GT2 class1. Ferrari, 120 points2. Porsche, 1133. BMW, 69
The ILMC 2010 is now complete. Next appointment is as soon as next March 19th at Sebring in the 12 hours, for the first round of a competition that seems, certain to be even more hotly contested.