A gripping fight for the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC title heads into the penultimate round at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Porsche GT Team tackles the six-hour race on 5 November with two 911 RSR in the high-ranking GTE-Pro class. At the wheel of the 510 hp 911 RSR, designed from scratch by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, the Porsche pilots Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) aim to earn more critical points towards winning the GT Drivers’ World Championship in the Chinese economic metropolis against strong opposition from Aston Martin, Ford and Ferrari. The pair travels to Shanghai ranking second in the series, just five points off the leader. This season also sees a close battle for honours in the GTE-Am class, in which Porsche customer teams go head-to-head for the FIA Endurance Trophy with the 2015-spec 911 RSR.
The 5.541-kilometre Shanghai International Circuit was opened in 2004, however, it already made headlines during its construction: Due to the swampy subsoil, 43,000 support piles had to be rammed into the earth over the entire facility. However, no amount of effort was too much for China in its quest to lure Formula 1 to Shanghai. The Grand Prix circuit is one of many prestige projects with which the nation wanted to demonstrate its economic power to the world at the beginning of the new millennium.
The Porsche drivers
Four works drivers and a Porsche Young Professional compete at the Shanghai International Circuit. In the GTE-Pro class, Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France), who currently rank second in the Drivers’ World Championship, aim to defend their title chances in the cockpit of the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. Their team colleagues Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) share the second new 911 RSR with the starting number 92. As the most promising Porsche customer team in the fight for the FIA Endurance Trophy, Dempsey Proton Racing campaigns the 2015-spec 911 RSR (#77) in the GTE-Am class. The Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) as well as Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst from Germany share the cockpit. Dempsey Proton Racing currently ranks second in the points, with the drivers leading the classification after achieving victories at the Nürburgring and in Mexico City. Ben Barker (Great Britain), Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) and Nick Foster (Australia) compete in the #86 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Gulf Racing.
The Porsche 911 RSR
Porsche Motorsport built the 911 RSR a completely new development on the basis of the high-performance 911 GT3 RS sports car: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed in Weissach from scratch for this season. 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 new RSR scored its maiden victory at the American IMSA SportsCar Championship race at Lime Rock on 22 July. The best results so far in this year’s Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC were second place at the rounds in Nürburgring, Austin, and most recently at Fuji.
The six-hour race in Shanghai starts on Sunday, 5 November, at 11.00 hrs local time (04.00 hrs CET).
Comments before the race
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “The title race for the world championship remains gripping. After their strong performance recently at Fuji, our drivers Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki still have the best chances to secure the crown of GT sport. The main thing for them in Shanghai is to secure another top result to be in the best possible for the season finale in Bahrain. As a team, we’ll support them to the very best of our ability.”
Marco Ujhasi, Director GT Factory Motorsports: “Shanghai will probably be the second high-temperature race of the season after Austin, Texas. It looks like we’ll have to run the hardest tyre compound there to make it over the laps. Only those who get it right with the tyres will have a chance to win on this challenging circuit.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #91): “This will definitely be an interesting race. The racetrack puts tyres under extreme stress. A key to success here will be to take good care of the rubber without compromising on speed. I’m positive we have a good car for Shanghai. We’ll fight for our chance in the world championship.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #91): “The race in Shanghai is the penultimate of the season and hence it’s critical in the fight for the title. The track is difficult but it’s also very interesting. We have to find a perfect setup for our 911 RSR and we hope that the weather doesn’t throw a spanner in the works. Every championship point is important for us.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #92): “I’m looking forward to Shanghai. The races on this circuit were always interesting and fiercely contested. In Fuji recently things didn’t go so well for us. I hope we’re able to match the pace of the front-runners with our new 911 RSR at the second race in Asia this season.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “A new country and a new racetrack for me – it’ll definitely be an interesting experience. I hope I can get to grips quickly with the Shanghai International Circuit during free practice and we manage to find the best possible setup for our new 911 RSR on this tricky circuit with its long straights.”
Matteo Cairoli (911 RSR #77): “The race in Fuji was red-flagged before I got a chance to drive. So I’m really looking forward to Shanghai, where my teammates and I want to extend our lead in the FIA Endurance Trophy.”
Balance of Performance (BoP)
The Balance of Performance applies to the GTE-Pro class of the WEC Sports Car World Endurance Championship as well as the GTLM class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. BoP was introduced by the FIA with the aim of achieving a level playing field for the different vehicle concepts, and thus ensuring balanced and fair races. The intention is that it should not make a fundamental difference if a vehicle is powered by a turbocharged or normally aspirated engine, or if the engine is mounted on the front axle or in front of the rear axle. The basic aerodynamic shape of the vehicles should also not play a decisive role. After an initial grading by the FIA, the balance of performance is adjusted at the races by means of telemetry – not only using lap times, but also acceleration profiles and engine mappings. This data input is automatically analysed and incorporated into the Balance of Performance. The most frequently used means of adjusting the performance level is through adding or subtracting weight. In keeping with the rule-makers’ intention, the key to success on the racetrack is not about the individual potential of a vehicle, instead it’s about the performance of the drivers, the race strategy, a perfect setup or the skill of the team with their pit stops.
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. At Le Mans, double points are awarded in all classes towards the championship.