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Porsche at the 2018 WEC Prologue

#91, Porsche Motorsport, Porsche 911 RSR, LMGTE Pro, driven by: Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni, #92, driven by: Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, FIAWEC Prologue 2018, 06/04/2018,

#91 & #92 Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro
Paul Ricard, FIA/WEC Prologue, 6/7 April 2018: #91 Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro driven by Richard Lietz/Gianmaria Bruni (left), #92 driven by Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre (right)

Activities have concluded for Porsche at the 2018 WEC Prologue, and by all accounts, it went very smoothly. Run over two days in the south of France at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track (Paul Ricard HTTT), this event gave the teams an ideal opportunity to test their cars in traffic, but non-competitive, conditions. The weather over the two days was ideal, with wall-to-wall sunshine, giving the teams excellent testing conditions.

#91 Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro
Paul Ricard, FIA/WEC Prologue, 6/7 April 2018: #91 Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro driven by Richard Lietz/Gianmaria Bruni poses for the group photo

One important thing to remember is that the lap times from the Prologue have little meaning in the overall scheme of things, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a lot of strategic running happening where teams within each class reveal as little as possible to the opposition. And secondly, because most of the teams are trying different components and set-ups. Take for instance Toyota, they ran two different aero set-ups, one car had a low downforce package (#7 Toyota TS050) while the other had a high downforce package (#8 Toyota TS050). Toyota also ran some laps without fuel restrictors to test the engine under full load, but the cars will be restricted come race time.

#92 Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro
Paul Ricard, FIA/WEC Prologue, 6/7 April 2018: #92 Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro driven by Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre in Saturday’s fading light

From a Porsche perspective, the factory wheeled out their two familiar 911 RSR race cars, the #91 car driven by Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, while Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen were behind the wheel of the #92 car. Bruni and Lietz covered 2051 kilometres over the two days with Estre and Christensen completing 288 laps, clocking up 1688 kilometres around the 5.861km, 13-corner, racetrack.

Porsche’s factory driver Gianmaria Bruni will celebrate his comeback to the WEC at the start of the 2018/2019 Super Season, where the Porsche will be in direct competition with his old team Ferrari, as well as Ford, BMW and Aston Martin. No less than five manufacturers will compete for victories and points in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ classifications of the GTE-Pro class. For all the teams, they now have to maintain focus over 15 months and must master the task of contesting Le Mans twice in one season. For Porsche, with its shift in motor racing activities, all eyes will now be turned towards the GT Team, where results will be expected.

Twenty-two teams with 35 vehicles were present at the final shakedown for the WEC Super Season ahead of the first race at Spa on 5 May. Both 911 RSRs wrapped up a trouble-free test programme and impressed with a commanding performance, posting the fastest lap time in the GTE-Pro category on several occasions. The Porsche customer teams competing in the GTE-Am class of the FIA WEC: Project 1, Dempsey Proton Racing (2 cars) and Gulf Racing, also used the two-day Prologue for extensive tests.

“We have only the Prologue in Le Castellet and a race at Spa-Francorchamps before we line up with ten 911 RSRs at Le Mans. That’ll be a real treat and I’m very much looking forward to it,” Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser pointed out. This will be the highest number of 911s on track at Le Mans for many years.

The Porsche lap times from the Prologue weekend are as follows:

GTE Pro Car no. Team Drivers Best lap Total laps
1 91 Porsche GT Team Richard Lietz/Gianmaria Bruni 1:51.332 350
2 92 Porsche GT Team Michael Christensen/Kévin Estre 1:51.837 288
1 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Khaled Al Qubaisi/Giorgio Roda/Matteo Cairoli 1:52.936 227
2 86 Gulf Racing UK Michael Wainwright/Ben Barker/Alex Davison 1:53.133 221
3 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Christian Ried/Julien Andlauer/Matt Campbell 1:53.474 196
4 56 Team Project 1 Jörg Bergmeister/Patrick Lindsey/Egidio Perfetti 1:53.632 274

Comments after the Prologue:

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “The focus of the WEC Prologue was very clearly on our customer teams, who brought four new cars to the test. It was all about familiarising themselves with the new car and adapting the driving styles and they all managed to complete the test without problems and gain important insights. Overall, the performance is difficult to assess, but the most important feedback is that everything feels good and the drivers have a great deal of confidence in the car. And this is always an indication of good lap times. In the Pro category, the focus was on trying out the various suspension setups and evaluating the tyres. That, too, ran perfectly. We were able to complete our test programme as planned and we’re feeling very confident for both categories as we look ahead to the first race in Spa.”

Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsports: “It was a perfect test for Porsche. We simulated an entire race weekend and completed the final preparations for our start in Spa. Everything went without the slightest hitch. The customer teams also undertook a similar programme. We’re ready and eager for the Super Season to begin.”

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