Porsche dominates the 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, the world’s biggest GT3 sportscar race.
The GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R crewed by the current FIA WEC Sportscar World Champions Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen (Denmark), and Austria’s Richard Lietz finished first at the Belgian long distance classic after 363 laps, securing Porsche its seventh Spa 24 Hour overall win.
The 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Rowe Racing (#998) rounded off the one-two victory of the Porsche teams at the marathon in the Ardennes. Five of the six Pro-cars from Porsche finished the 71st running of the 24 Hours of Spa in the top ten.
Right from the start, the rain played the leading role at the 24-hour classic in Belgium. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the race had to be stopped for almost six hours due to heavy downpours. But even this interruption couldn’t end the victorious drive of the number 20 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The crew with Estre, Christensen, and Lietz, which had been relegated down the field by a drive-through penalty in the evening, put in an impressive charge through the field.
When the race was halted, the driver trio had made it back to eighth place with a series of flawless and constantly fast stints and made up more positions after the race was restarted. With two hours to go, the GT3 R driven by Kévin Estre took the lead, which the Frenchman held driving the slick-shod car on a damp track surface. After nine years, it was time to celebrate again for Porsche at the prestigious endurance classic in the Ardennes.
The Rowe Racing #998 Porsche 911 GT3 R also had a race of mixed fortunes on the 7.004 kilometre storied circuit. Patrick Pilet (France), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) also lost many places due to a drive-through penalty and caught up to the frontrunners in the night with a strong performance in the rain. During the closing stages of the race, rain specialist Tandy conquered second place with several skilful overtaking manoeuvres to secure the one-two win for Porsche.
Scoring three more top ten placings, the Porsche customer teams crowned their strong and unified showing at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The #98 and #99 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Rowe Racing finished fifth and seventh. KÜS Team75 Bernhard brought its identical #117 911 GT3 R home in ninth place.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport: “Congratulations to our customer teams at Spa. The effort of the engineers, strategists, the pit crews, and the drivers impressed me deeply. They all co-operated with our support crew from Weissach in the best possible way. We’ve scored this victory together. And the Porsche 911 again proved to be the car to beat at sportscar races.”
VIDEO NEWS: https://vimeo.com/350594959
1. Estre/Christensen/Lietz (F/DK/A), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 363 laps
2. Pilet/Makowiecki/Tandy (F/F/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 363 laps
3. Engel/Buurman/Stolz (D/NL/D), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 363 laps
5. Müller/Dumas/Jaminet (D/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 362 laps
7. Olsen/Campbell/Werner (N/AUS/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 362 laps
9. Bernhard/Vanthoor/Bamber (D/B/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 362 laps
248 drivers took up the 24 hour classic at Spa-Francorchamps in 72 cars. Eleven marques were represented at the 71st running of the Ardennes marathon, which is also Round 3 of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge. Porsche also won the opening round of the 2019 IGTC at the Bathurst 12 Hour in February.