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Le Mans Series, rd 5 in Estoril/Portugal, race report: Porsche teams claim podium spots, win with championship

Richard Lietz (l), Marc Lieb (r)

Stuttgart. That was close. Just 0.183 seconds separated Porsche’s works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) in the 911 GT3 RSR from their first win of the season.

Patrick Pilet (l), Wolf Henzler (r)

At the final round of the Le Mans Series, the title defenders celebrated their best result of the year clinching second at Estoril in the GTE Pro sports car category. Factory pilots Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) were delighted with their best result of the season in third place. And there was wild elation in the GTE Am class in which just one professional driver may compete per vehicle.

Raymond Narac (l), Franck Rava (m), Nicolas Armindo (r)

Frenchmen Nicolas Armindo and Raymond Narac crowned their season with another victory with the 2010-spec 911 GT3 RSR, and took home the drivers’ championship title.

Marc Lieb (r)

“It was a really great race,” said Marc Lieb. “As expected, there was a very close fight between us and Ferrari. Our 911 remained consistent over the entire six hours. Richard, the team and I gave our very best. We fought to the flag. During the last pit stop, Richard experienced a bit of bad luck when he encountered traffic. That cost us the decisive seconds and handed the lead to the Ferrari.”

Taking up the race from fourth, Richard Lietz managed to move into second position after almost an hour.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz

Lap for lap, Lieb and Lietz then reeled in the front-runner. It was Lietz who finally closed the gap during his second stint – and the Felbermayr-Proton pit crew played their hand in the success: Their eight-second faster pit stop catapulted Lieb into the lead with the 911 GT3 RSR. Trying to defend this, however, was no easy task. Lieb could fend off his pursuers, but not really shake them. The Felbermayr-Proton squad’s last pit stop also worked perfectly, but back on the track Lietz hit traffic – and the Ferrari snatched back the lead. Although Lietz stuck like glue to the bumper of the leader he wasn’t able to overtake on the narrow circuit.

“The last phase was sensational,” Richard Lietz said. “In the last lap we were panel to panel twice and touched several times. But there was no way I could pass without crossing the line of fairness. When you have victory in sight and are beaten by such a close margin, well, your joy over second place is somewhat overshadowed.”

After winning the drivers’ championship in the last two years, the pair finished the season in third.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz

For works drivers Wolf Henzler and Patrick Pilet, who contest the GTE-Pro class for the IMSA Performance Matmut team, the race was no less exciting. Start driver Pilet took an early lead before having to relinquish it after five laps. Suffering problems with the nut gun at two pit stops, the German/French duo fell back to third place. “Holding on to third took a huge effort,” said both Henzler and Pilet.

“We tried out all variations of set-up possibilities,” explained Henzler. “But we simply didn’t manage to find a decent balance. With fresh tyres we could easily hold the pace, but after a couple of laps the 911 become difficult to drive. And we lost a lot of time in the pits. This is something we have to work on.” Pilet added: “But this makes it all the more wonderful that, despite everything, we claimed out first podium result. We’re happy.”

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut, Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo

For IMSA Performance Matmut, there were two reasons to celebrate at the finale. Aside from third place for the GTE Pro pilots, there were joyous celebrations over the race victory and win of the championship title in the GTE Am class. This marks the first international title for the team based in the northern French town of Rouen. The reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland, Nicolas Armindo, and team owner and amateur racer Raymond Narac, yielded the brilliant balance of four wins from five races. As stipulated by the regulations, the pair competed with the 2010 version of the 911 GT3 RSR. The squad also secured the team championship title which serves as an entrance ticket to the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2012.

Nicolas Armindo

“I simply can’t express how happy I am,” said Armindo with a wide grin. “At the beginning of the season everything was new for me. But thanks to my team I quickly found my feet in this new environment and it didn’t take me long at all to get familiar with the 911 GT3 RSR. It makes me proud that in my first year of LMS I can contribute to bringing home the championship trophy for this warm and wonderful team.”

Christian Ried

Felbermayr-Proton team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and Austria’s Horst Felbermayr Junior were also pleased. The winners of the season-opener in Le Castellet concluded the year with a podium result in the GTE Am class.

Marc Goossens

For the third Porsche team contesting the GTE-Pro class with works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) and Marc Goossens (Belgium), the race came to a premature end in lap one when an opponent crashed into the right front wheel of their ProSpeed Competition 911 – broke the steering gear and knocked them out of contention.

 

“It is such a shame that the season ends like this,” said Marco Holzer. “We’d qualified a decent fourth yesterday and thought our chances for second in the GTE Pro classification looked good. Unfortunately the overzealous move of a competitor robbed us of this chance. For our team, who had worked so incredibly hard, this was a particularly bitter conclusion to the year.”

 

Marco Holzer and Patrick Pilet

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Statistics: 5th of 5 rounds of the Le Mans Series in Estoril/Portugal

Result GTE Pro class
1. Bell/Walker (GB/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 209 laps
2. Lieb/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 0.183 seconds behind
3. Henzler/Pilet (D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 207
4. Melo/Vilander (BR/FIN), Ferrari F458 Italia, 206
5. Hancock/Dolan (GB/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 204
6. Rodrigues/Ballay/Ayari (P/F/F), Ferrari F458 Italia, 197
7. Farnbacher/Simonsen (D/DK), Ferrari F458 Italia, 99

Result GTE Am class
1. Armindo/Narac (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 205 laps
2. Hummel/Christodoulou/Quaife (NL/GB/GB), Ferrari F430, 203
3. Ried/Felbermayr Jr. (D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 202

The Le Mans Series

Contested for the first time in 2004, the Le Mans Series (LMS) is open for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The regulations are based on those of the Le Mans 24 hour race. Five six-hour races are contested this season throughout Europe.

GTE Pro class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers (previously known as the GT2 class) is traditionally the best supported: Modified standard sports cars with up to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms.
GTE-Am class: Like the GTE-Pro, but with 2010-vehicle specifications. Moreover, the regulations stipulate that each vehicle may have just one professional driver.
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kg.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp, GT-class homologated engines and a 900 kg minimum weight.
FLM class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.

All race cars start together but are classified separately according to the class. Points are only allocated for placings in each class. Championship titles are awarded for drivers, manufacturers and teams in all five classes. With four title wins in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010,

Porsche works driver Marc Lieb is the most successful pilot in the series.

SOURCE: Porsche AG Media Database

 

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Le Mans Series, rd 5 in Estoril/Portugal – 2nd grid row in the hands of Porsche teams

Richard Lietz (Austria)

Stuttgart. The Porsche works drivers start the final race of the Le Mans Series season from promising positions.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz

Posting grid position three, title defender Richard Lietz (Austria) clinched the best result of the season with the 911 GT3 RSR in the GTE Pro sports car category.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz

On the fourth spot, Marco Holzer (Germany) takes up the six hour race alongside Lietz on the 4.182 kilometre former Grand Prix circuit of Estoril.

Marco Holzer (Germany)

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, ProSpeed Competition, Marco Holzer, Marc Goossens

Patrick Pilet (France) rounds off the good result with position six on the grid. In the GTE Am class, Frenchman Nicolas Armindo again set pole position with the 2010-version of the 911 GT3 RSR.

Patrick Pilet (France)

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut, Wolf Henzler (l), Patrick Pilet (r)

Wolf Henzler (l)

Frenchman Nicolas Armindo

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut, Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut, Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo

“We gave our best and are really pleased with third on the grid,” said Lietz who last year secured the championship title in the sports car class with his Felbermayr-Proton teammate Marc Lieb (Germany). “My lap was good, third on the grid is the best result of the season by now. Above all, we’re thrilled that our times are so close to the leaders. Now let’s see what the race yields for us.”

After a difficult start to the season with two crashes that were not their fault, the luck of the title defenders finally turned recently in Silverstone with their first podium position.

After competing last year as a Porsche Junior, 23-year-old factory pilot Marco Holzer was delighted with his fourth grid spot.

“That was a great qualifying session,” commented Holzer, who joins forces for ProSpeed Competition with Belgium’s Marc Goossens.

“We missed out on the first free practice because we had to change something on our gearbox. Hence we were behind with our set-up work. But this makes our second row position even sweeter. In fact, we’ve never started so far up the front of the field this season. And we’re also hoping to further improve the handling of our 911 during the warm-up tomorrow and then the race should go well. The track is challenging but I really like it.”

The French factory pilot Patrick Pilet also seemed satisfied.

Patrick Pilet

“Sixth on the grid is okay,” stated Pilet, who shares driving duties for IMSA Performance Matmut with works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany).

“Our car was rather difficult to drive in the practice sessions, so we tried out something very new in the qualifying but that didn’t work. Now we have some things to sort out during the warm-up. And then comes the race that will undoubtedly be very exciting on this somewhat narrow circuit.”

Wolf Henzler

Nicolas Armindo secured another point in the fight for the championship with his fourth pole position of the season in the GTE Am class. In this category, only one professional driver is permitted per vehicle.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut, Patrick Pilet, Wolf Henzler

The reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland drives with the team owner IMSA Performance Matmut, amateur racer Raymond Narac. In compliance with the regulations, the two Frenchmen compete with a 2010-spec 911 GT3 RSR.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton, Horst Felbermayr Jr. (l), Christian Ried (r)

The pair takes up the final round with an eleven point lead over their closest rival. Felbermayr-Proton’s team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and Horst Felbermayr Junior (Austria) head into tomorrow’s race from fourth in the GTE Am class.

Christian Ried (Germany)

Horst Felbermayr Junior (Austria)

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Qualifying result
GTE Pro class
1. Rob Bell (GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 1:39.176 minutes
2. Gianmaria Bruni (I), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.057 seconds
3. Richard Lietz (A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.198
4. Marco Holzer (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.350
5. Dominik Farnbacher (D), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.573
6. Patrick Pilet (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.788
7. Jamie Melo (BR), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 1.214

GTE Am class
1. Nicolas Armindo (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:40.014 minutes
2. Marco Cioci (I), Ferrari F430, + 0.544 seconds
3. Phil Quaife (GB), Ferrari F430, + 0.763
4. Christian Ried (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 2.093

The six hour race starts on Sunday, 25 September, at 13.00 hours local time (CEST 14.00 hours).

The Le Mans Series

Contested for the first time in 2004, the Le Mans Series (LMS) is open for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The regulations are based on those of the Le Mans 24 hour race. Five six-hour races are contested this season throughout Europe.

GTE-Pro class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers (previously known as the GT2 class) is traditionally the best supported: Modified standard sports cars with up to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms.
GTE-Am class: Like the GTE-Pro, but with the 2010-vehicle specifications. Moreover, the regulations stipulate that each vehicle must have one professional driver at the most.
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp, GT-class homologated engines and a 900 kg minimum weight.
FLM class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.

All race cars start together but are classified separately according to the class. Points are only allocated for placings in each class. Championship titles are awarded for drivers, manufacturers and teams in all five classes.

Claiming four titles in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010, Porsche works driver Marc Lieb is the most successful pilot in the series.

Marc Lieb (r)

SOURCE: Porsche AG Media Database 

 

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Le Mans Series / Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, round 2 – six hour race starts on Saturday, 7 May 2011

Le Mans Series / Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, round 2 in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Second grid row for Marc Lieb

Marc Lieb (Germany)

Stuttgart. In qualifying for the second round of the Le Mans Series in Spa-Francorchamps, Marc Lieb (Germany) secured the fourth grid spot in the GTE Pro sports car category.

Richard Lietz (Austria)

With this, last year’s winners Lieb and Richard Lietz (Austria) have clinched a good starting position for the 1,000 kilometre race on the challenging circuit in Belgium’s Ardennes region with the 2011 version of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

In the GTE Am category, in which just one professional race driver may compete per vehicle, Frenchman Nicolas Armindo again clinched pole position in the 2010-spec 911 GT3 RSR.

Marc Lieb (Germany)

“My lap was quite okay and, after the free practice, fourth on the grid is what we had expected,” said Lieb. “A half second gap to the pole-sitter is not a lot on a seven kilometre circuit. Tomorrow’s race will be tough. The opposition is strong and many. But we’ll go flat out and would like to finish on the podium.”

Teammate Lietz commented: “Compared to last year’s car, we didn’t manage to find the perfect set-up for the new 911. We simply don’t have the experience from the first round where through no fault of our own we retired due to the flawed start.”

Taking up tomorrow’s six-hour race from eighth on the grid are the two Porsche works drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France).

Wolf Henzler (Germany)

The professionals from the French IMSA Performance Matmut team were also not particularly satisfied with the set-up of their 911 GT3 RSR. “We tried several things but they turned out to be in the wrong direction,” Henzler concluded. “We feel the same as Marc and Richard, the experience with the 2011 car is missing because of our retirement in Le Castellet. We’re hoping to make up some positions through a good strategy and consistent driving performance.”

Belgium’s race professional Marc Goossens qualified the 911 GT3 RSR fielded by ProSpeed Competition on the tenth grid spot. His teammate, Porsche factory pilot Marco Holzer (Germany), was pleased. “With 60 vehicles on this demanding circuit, the race is going to be challenging.”

Like in Le Castellet, Nicolas Armindo was delighted with his pole position in the GTE Am category. The reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland shares the cockpit of the 911 GT3 RSR – on the technical basis of 2010 – with his compatriot, IMSA Performance team owner, Raymond Narac.

Austria’s Horst Felbermayr Junior posted the sixth fastest time in the GTE Am-911 run by Felbermayr-Proton. He joins forces with Bryce Miller from America. Team owner Christian Ried (Germany) takes up the race from ninth in the class with Nick Hommerson from the Netherlands.

Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard (Germany) was the fastest of the entire field at the wheel of the Audi R18 TDI. Bernhard shares driving duties in the sports prototype with Porsche factory pilot Romain Dumas (France) and former Porsche Junior Mike Rockenfeller.

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The six hour race starts on Saturday, 7 May, at 14.05 hours. Eurosport broadcasts the entire race live. Eurosport 2 televises the Spa round from 14.00 to 17.30 hours, with the free-to-view station showing the last two and a half hours live from 17.30 hrs.

Qualifying result
GTE Pro class
1. Jaime Melo (BR), Ferrari F458 Italia, 2:20.743 minutes
2. Robert Bell (GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.172 seconds
3. Giancarlo Fisichella (I), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.343
4. Marc Lieb (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.548
5. Augusto Farfus (BR), BMW M3, + 0.717
8. Wolf Henzler (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 2.212
10. Marc Goossens (B), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 2.896

GTE Am class
1. Nicolas Armindo (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2:23.007 minutes
2. Marco Cioci (I), Ferrari F430, + 0.262 seconds
3. Phil Quaife (GB), Ferrari F430, + 0.478
6. Horst Felbermayr Jr. (A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 1.592
9. Christian Ried (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 3.790

The Le Mans Series

Contested for the first time in 2004, the Le Mans Series (LMS) is open for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The regulations are based on those of the Le Mans 24 hour race. Five six-hour races are contested this season throughout Europe.

GTE-Pro class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers (previously known as the GT2 class) is traditionally the best supported: Slightly modified standard sports cars with up to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms.

GTE-Am class: Like the GTE-Pro, but with the 2010-vehicle specifications. Moreover, the regulations stipulate that each vehicle must have one professional driver at the most.

LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.

LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp, GT-class homologated engines and a 900 kg minimum weight.

FLM class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.

All race cars start together but are classified separately according to the class. Points are only allocated for placings in each class. Championship titles are awarded for drivers, manufacturers and teams in all five classes. Claiming the title in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010, Porsche works driver Marc Lieb is the most successful pilot in the series.

IMAGES FROM: Porsche Press Database

SOURCE: PORSCHE AG

 

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