Porsche has won the manufacturers’ title for the first time in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. At the final round of the world’s most important championship for GT3 vehicles in Kyalami (South Africa), the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Frikadelli Racing drove to victory. In a chaotic nine-hour race, works driver Nick Tandy (Great Britain) as well as the Porsche Young Professionals Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) dominated the action when it mattered. Porsche earned the decisive points thanks to third place for the GPX Racing squad with drivers Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Richard Lietz (Austria). The drivers’ championship title also went to Porsche: Dennis Olsen secured the crown with his second victory of the season after winning the season-opening round at Bathurst (Australia).
At the first international long-distance race on the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit since 1982, the 911 GT3 R, which is based on the high-performance Porsche 911 GT3 RS* road-legal sports car, dominated the race over long stretches. After the start in summery 29-degree temperatures and asphalt temperatures of almost 50 degrees Celsius, the three GT3 vehicles campaigned by Frikadelli Racing (#31), GPX Racing (#20) and Dinamic Motorsport (#12) immediately formed a spearhead at the front. After several laps, the world sports car champion Christensen moved into the lead with the Porsche 911 GT3 R of the winning team at 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium). The number 20 vehicle then defended the top spot.
With around two hours left on the clock, an intense thunderstorm with heavy downpours changed the order at the front. Due to essential refuelling stops behind the safety car, which had been deployed due to the difficult conditions, the two best Porsche 911 GT3 R were initially relegated to third and fourth place. With 25 minutes to go, the steward of the meeting gave the green light. Porsche’s works driver Nick Tandy then pulled out all stops to put in an impressive drive, demonstrating the sheer power of the GT3 vehicle from Stuttgart on the wet track. The Briton, who had planted the No. 31 vehicle on pole position on Friday, ploughed his way through the field over just one lap to take the lead and ultimately cross the finish line with a 6.746-second advantage.
The Spa winners Lietz, Estre and Christensen claimed third place for the customer team GPX Racing. Bathurst winner Matt Campbell (Australia) as well as the IMSA champions Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) achieved eighth place in the number 12 car run by Dinamic Motorsport. The trio had lost a lot of time while pitting under yellow. The pursuit of the No. 911 vehicle fielded by KÜS Team 75 Bernhard with factory driver Romain Dumas from France and his German teammates Sven Müller and Dirk Werner concluded with ninth place. With four vehicles finishing in the top ten, Porsche was clearly the strongest manufacturer in the intensely competitive 28-strong field.
The GT3 vehicle with which Lechner Racing contested the silver category won its class (14th overall). Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) shared driving duties at the wheel of the No. 9 car with the South African Saul Hack and Dylan Pereira from Luxembourg. The Porsche 911 GT3 R (997 model) fielded by the South African customer team Perfect Circle concluded the first nine-hour race in South Africa in 37 years third in the amateur category.
Porsche rounds off the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge season as number one in the manufacturers’ championship. After winning the season-opening event in Bathurst with last year’s model of Porsche 911 GT3 R, victories followed at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and at Kyalami as well as podium finishes at Laguna Seca (USA) and Suzuka (Japan).
Comments on the race
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “Three wins from five races, and podium finishes at all rounds – that’s how you win championships. The key to our success was the excellent teamwork of our squads around the world. The final race at Kyalami with sun, heat, lightning, thunder and rain was like a rollercoaster ride. In the end we deserved to win. Now it’s time to celebrate.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “The Porsche 911 GT3 R was the strongest vehicle in the cutthroat competition of the GT3 manufacturers. We were the fastest in dry conditions, and in the rain the nine-eleven set the benchmark. I’m pleased that the race went green again so that we could demonstrate the strength of our rear-engine car. Halfway through the race we had to cope with a couple of minor setbacks, but thanks to perfect teamwork we were ultimately able to take the lead. I’m particularly thrilled about Dennis’s title win. I know how much this means to him.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “This is definitely the best day of my career by now. When I was asked recently to name my greatest achievement, I said it was the victory at Bathurst. When I was then asked what could be better than that, I said a victory at Kyalami, winning the manufacturers’ title with Porsche as well as the drivers’ championship. That has now happened – unbelievable, it feels like a dream. When the race was finally restarted, I had a good feeling. If you have someone like Nick Tandy in the Porsche 911 GT3 R on a wet track in the final sprint, then anything is possible.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “Despite the turbulent conditions during the race we never gave up. We went for broke in every single lap, and drove the fastest race lap in the dry. It all paid off. Before the start of the race weekend, I told Dennis we were going to win at Kyalami and he would claim the title. We’ve turned that prediction into reality. Now we’ll celebrate.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 GT3 R #20): “Another successful outing for Kévin, Michael and me in GPX Racing’s car. We were strong over the entire weekend, and we led for most of the race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to bring home first place in the rain. But most importantly, Porsche has won the manufacturers’ title – mission accomplished.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12): “It was a disappointing weekend for us in the number 12 car. We tried everything, but never really matched the pace of the strongest Porsche 911 GT3 R. I don’t know why this happened, but at the end of the day it’s fantastic that the manufacturers’ title went to Porsche and Dennis took the drivers’ crown.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “That was a difficult weekend. It all started with the delayed arrival of the container with our car and all the equipment. In the race, the engine temperature was always at the upper limit. We had to take care and we couldn’t go all-out. For this reason we couldn’t do better. Congratulations to Dennis and the entire Porsche squad. These championship titles are well deserved.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “The 90 minutes in torrential rain behind the safety car were the most difficult 90 minutes of my racing career. It was more like swimming than driving. Despite losing a little time during the pit stops at the beginning, we still ended up as the deserving class winners. We made the least amount of mistakes and so our first place was rightly earned.”
01. Olsen/Jaminet/Tandy (N/F/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
02. Catsburg/Krognes/Jensen (NL/N/DK), BMW M6 GT3, 259 laps
03. Lietz/Christensen/Estre (A/DK/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
08. Vanthoor/Bamber/Campbell (B/NZ/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
09. Dumas/Müller/Werner (F/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
13. Hack/Kern/Pereira (ZA/D/LUX), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 257 laps
28. Bezuidenhout/Scribante/Scribante (ZA/ZA/ZA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 85 laps