The Silverstone six-hour race on 16 April marks the return of Porsche to the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC with a GT works team following a year-long development period. The Porsche GT Team runs two newly developed 911 RSR on the 5.901-kilometre-long, tradition-steeped Silverstone Circuit in the British Midlands. The 510 hp race car from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, celebrated its successful debut in January at the 24 Hours of Daytona. FIA, as the world’s governing body of motorsport, has further enhanced the GT category of the WEC by officially giving it world championship status this season for the first time.
The Silverstone Circuit with legendary corners such as Becketts, Copse and Stowe is one of the world’s most storied racetracks. On 13 May, 1950, the circuit hosted the first modern-day Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Porsche drivers
Four works drivers tackle the GTE-Pro class with the new 911 RSR for the Porsche GT Team at the season-opening round in Silverstone. Sharing the cockpit of the #91 vehicle are Richard Lietz (Austria), the WEC GT Champion of 2015, and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) man the #92 car. In the GTE-Am class, the Porsche customer team Dempsey Proton Racing campaigns a 911 RSR from last season with the Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Christian Ried (Germany) and Marvin Dienst (Germany) sharing driving duties.
The Porsche 911 RSR
The 911 RSR is a completely new development: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed in Weissach from scratch. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is now positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). Thanks to the particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing, the level of downforce and the aerodynamic efficiency were significantly improved. The 911 RSR also contests the WEC sporting the further developed factory design with the primary colours white, red and black.
The six-hour race gets underway on Sunday, 16 April, at midday local time (13.00 hrs CEST).
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “It feels good to be back in the WEC with the GT works team and with our entirely newly developed 911 RSR. At the Prologue a week ago in Monza, our team was able to prepare for all possible racing situations and the drivers’ feedback on the 911 RSR was very positive. Still, the competition in the extremely popular GTE-Pro class is hard to gauge. After the first race we’ll have a better idea of where we stand. In any case, Silverstone promises to be an exciting start to the season.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “We travel to Silverstone well prepared. We used the WEC Prologue at Monza to work on setting up the car and try out double stints on one set of tyres with a view to the first race of the season. The grip level on the Silverstone Circuit is very high and puts very special demands on the setup. The fact that we’re only permitted four sets of tyres per race this season makes it all the more important to use the tyres optimally.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #91): “Silverstone is one of my favourite tracks and the first race where we only have four instead of six sets of tyres at our disposal. This means that every driver has to do a double stint on one set of tyres. We also have to look after the tyres even more this season so that they don’t deteriorate too much over the distance. This’ll certainly make things exciting. At the last test in Monza, our new 911 RSR fulfilled all expectations. We’re ready to tackle the season.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #91): “I’m very pleased to be back contesting the WEC after an exciting year in the USA. We saw from the tests that our new 911 RSR has great potential. If we can also mobilize these strengths in the race we’ll definitely have a chance to win.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #92): “Starting the season at Silverstone is always interesting. It’s particularly appealing to return to the WEC with a works team and the new 911 RSR on this racetrack. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll undoubtedly experience a thrilling season. I hope we can achieve some good results in 2017 with the new car and maybe even bring home victories.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “The first race with a new car is always something very special. Our final tests in Monza went well, but we’ll only see the true value of those tests at Silverstone. It’ll certainly be an interesting race. Of course, we’re all under a little pressure but that’s not something new for us. We have to try to stay focussed and do our job well. If we can do this, then we’ll get the results that we’re hoping for.”
The Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC
Sports prototypes and GT vehicles contest the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC) in four classes: LMP1 (eg. Porsche 919 Hybrid), LMP2, LMGTE-Pro (eg. 911 RSR) and LMGTE-Am (eg. 911 RSR model year 2015). They all compete together in one race but are classified separately.