Fourth place in GTE Pro was the best Porsche could manage in today’s 991 RSR debut at the Six Hours of Silverstone. Despite a subdued reaction to the RSR’s debut, the prototype racing was excellent, with McNish setting lap records towards the end, in pursuit of a win he eventually claimed.
Round 1 of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship was run in generally dry conditions. A short burst of rain at the halfway point handed Stuttgart some help, but when the circuit dried, the competition had no problem staying in front.
First GTE Pro home was the number 97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE of Turner, Mucke and Senna. Fourth Aston pedaller and friend of Ferdinand, Peter Dumbreck, skipped Silverstone to race the JRM Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the opening round of Blancpain Endurance at Monza.
Nice as it must be to race alongside ex-Porsche driver and 2011 FIA GT1 champ, Lucas Luhr, on the epic Monza circuit, Peter would have savoured a trophy in the local Prodrive-built Aston, ahead of Kamui Kobayashi’s Ferrari 458 Corse, and the #99 Aston of Rob Bell, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Frederic Makowiecki. No doubt Darren enjoyed his day, as did Kobayashi, who soared to second place in the final hour, when a pitstop taken earlier than the others paid off.
After the race, Porsche’s Patrick Pilet tweeted: “Just a little issue on the car, the mechanics make a good job but we lost three laps. Car was great to drive. See u at Spa”. The Pilet/Bergmeister/Bernhard car seemed to hold up Marc Lieb’s encouraging charge in the early part, before Bergmeister boxed the #91 car, to check on loose front suspension. Olaf Manthey said no fault was found, and the car continued on its way. The sister #92 991 RSR and fourth place finisher of Lietz/Lieb/Dumas had what looked like a trouble-free run, just without sufficient dry pace to take it to the Astons.
Interviewed for Motors TV by the Radio Le Mans team after his stint, Romain Dumas noted that the rain shower had played to Porsche’s strengths, and allowed the RSR to close on the Ferrari he was trailing at the time, but also said each pitstop was costing the drivers ten or twelve seconds more than their rivals. “Whatever time we gain on track, we lose in the pits,” bemoaned Romain.
At the flag, the RSR finished a lap plus over a minute behind the winning Aston, but showed a fastest lap within reach of its rivals (see the data). Saving twelve seconds in each of five pitstops might have helped to keep Porsche in touch.
The next round at Spa on May 4th and 5th has some watery comfort. Last year’s big race was held in the wet, and Porsche streaked to glory as a result. But we don’t want to race a car hoping for rain. Here’s hoping Porsche AG Team Manthey can further develop the new boy by Spa, and race to take P1 on merit.