Great success for Porsche customer teams at the premiere of the WEC Sports Car World Endurance Championship in Mexico: With the Porsche 911 RSR, Abu Dhabi Proton Racing won the GTE-Am class at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit with the team celebrating its maiden WEC victory in front of 38.000 spectators. Sharing driving duties in the cockpit of the 470 hp winning racer from Weissach was Porsche’s works driver Patrick Long (USA) with Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) and David Heinemeier Hansson (Denmark). The KCMG squad with Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany), Christian Ried (Germany) and Joel Camathias (Switzerland) secured the third podium spot after a gripping six-hour race. Gulf Racing rounded off the sterling performances from Porsche customer teams with the all-British line-up of Ben Barker, Michael Wainwright and Adam Carroll clinching fourth place.
In the GTE-Pro class the situation was looking promising for third place for the Porsche works drivers Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen in Dempsey Proton Racing’s 911 RSR, but as rain set in about halfway through the race on the Mexico City Grand Prix circuit at a 2,310-metre altitude, they dropped down the field after making an unfortunate tyre choice. The pair took the flag in sixth place.
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “My first stint was good with consistent lap times. The balance of our 911 RSR was great and we were fast. Before my second stint it started to rain and we had to make a difficult decision regarding the tyres. With the benefit of hindsight, it would definitely have been better to opt for wets and then change to new slicks. However, we decided to stick with the used Michelin rubber and this unfortunately proved to be the wrong decision.
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “The first half of the race went very well and our 911 RSR turned consistently fast laps. But once the rain started we unfortunately made the wrong choice with our tyres. Because of this we lost time and positions. Afterwards we no longer had a chance to make a comeback and fight for a podium position.”
Wolf Henzler (Porsche 911 RSR #78): “That was a very eventful race. We were looking good in the fight for victory, but towards the end we had to pit again to switch drivers and that put us back to third place. It’s a pity really, because everything was running smoothly: The team was super, our pit stops were perfect and the lap times were great, too. Now we’re heading to Austin where we aim to do everything right. Hopefully it’ll also be good enough for a victory.”
Patrick Long (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “The big challenge at this race was to find the perfect strategy. Our 911 RSR was fast and reliable for all track conditions over the distance. That made the difference today. I’m very proud of my teammates. Khaled and David drove an immaculate race and they didn’t make a single error. We’ve known all along that we’re a strong trio and, no matter what happens around us, we can win. I’m thrilled for them and the entire team about this win.”
Khaled Al Qubaisi (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “That was nerve-racking. The final phase was particularly stressful. We were often very close to winning in the past, but something always happened to prevent it. Today everything came together. I’m happy and grateful for our first victory in the WEC. That’s fantastic for the whole team.”
David Heinemeier Hansson (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “That was really crazy race. The rain towards the end made things more exciting than we would have liked. We made less mistakes under these difficult conditions compared to our competitors and we took a well deserved win. It’s great to finally climb to the top of the podium.”
Round six of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC will be contested in Austin/USA on 17 September.
1. Stanaway/Turner (NZ/GB), Aston Martin, 202 laps
2. Bruni/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 202
3. Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin, 202
4. Rigon/Bird (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 201
5. Franchitti/Priaulx/Tincknell (USA/GB/GB), Ford GT, 201
6. Christensen/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 201
7. Mücke/Pla (D/F), Ford GT, 181
1. Al Qubaisi/Long/Heinemeier Hansson (UAE/USA/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 197 laps
2. Collard/Perrodo/Aguas (F/F/P), Ferrari F458 Italia, 196
3. Ried/Henzler/Camathias (D/D/CH), Porsche 911 RSR, 196
4. Wainwright/Carroll/Barker (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 196
5. Lamy/Dalla Lana/Lauda (P/CAN/A), Aston Martin, 192
6. Yamagishi/Ragues/Taylor (J/F/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 184