Victory in LM GTE Pro in the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, a world championship title in 2019 and the arrival of a baby boy, Tommy, in 2020! After his programme as a works Porsche Motorsport driver has recently been announced, Kévin Estre looks back at the year just ending and ahead to 2021 with confidence and determination although he can’t help thinking about 2023.
A year quite unlike any other
2020, a year we’ll all remember for a long time, or one we want to forget completely – delete as appropriate! But above all for Carolin and Kévin Estre, it will be the year which saw them become the parents of a baby boy, Tommy, on 8th July. “It was really the most wonderful piece of good news of the year,” smiles the French driver. “Because of the health crisis I spent a lot of time at home in the house with Carolin and Tommy. All three of us are ready to celebrate our first Christmas together.”
This is the time of year when Porsche usually celebrates its champions at a marvelous party. The Night of Champions did take place on Saturday 12th December, but on screen and without guests. The Stuttgart Company used it to unveil its sporting programmes and its various works drivers. Kevin will continue to race in the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship) in the Porsche 911 RSR, but next year he’ll have a new team-mate.
It will be Swiss driver, Neel Jani, winner of the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans who also clinched a world title at the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 prototype the same year. Although Jani is less familiar with the cockpit of the make’s grand touring cars he finished second in category in the Sebring 12 Hours in November. It was precious experience as the 2021 FIA WEC will kick off on the renowned Florida circuit. “I met Neel when he was racing for Porsche in LMP1,” Kévin remembers. “We met up again when we were having our seat fittings. I live in Austria a kilometre from the Swiss border so we’re almost neighbours as we’re only one-and-a-half-hours apart.”
Reconquering is the name of the game
The main aim of the coming season will be to reconquer the World Endurance Championship GT title. The Estre-Christensen pairing finished third in this year’s championship, which began in September 2019 at Silverstone and was supposed to end at Le Mans in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic turned everything upside down. Finally, eight races took place and the Franco-Danish lineup in the no. 92 Porsche scored three pole positions, six podiums and two fastest race laps. They won at Spa and in the last round of the championship on the Bahrain circuit as well and finished second on four occasions. “Unfortunately, in the two races in which a large helping of points was up for grabs we ran into technical problems. It was the case at Le Mans, which was our biggest disappointment of the year. We had a new car that looked very like the previous model, but it had 95% new parts.”
Next year Kévin and Neel can count on a fully sorted out RSR to get back on the world championship-winning trail. “It’ll be more reliable and we’ll continue developing it to obtain more performance, especially at Le Mans.”
Like the majority of Porsche works drivers Kévin will compete in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in GT3 with a customer team. The winner of the Spa 24 Hours in 2019 has never hidden the fact that he dreams of adding victory in the German classic to his laurels. “We’ll have to be able to count on efficient logistics as the race falls at the same time as the Le Mans 24-Hours test day. We’ll have to leave the Nürburgring four or five hours before the end to be able to run in the Sarthe.” And be fighting fit.
Finally, Kévin was delighted to hear that Porsche will be returning to the top endurance category thanks to the LMDh regulations drawn up by the ACO and the Americans from IMSA. “It’s great news for endurance and for motor sport. We’re hoping to see at least four leading manufacturers taking up the challenge and this will generate enormous sporting interest. It’s obvious that I’d love to be part of this adventure.”
But he’ll have to be patient as the category will not be introduced until 2023. In the meantime, the ninth season of the FIA WEC will begin with the 1000 Miles of Sebring on 19th March 2021. A Merry Christmas and a great festive season to one and all.
Source. future racing/Photo. Porsche