The Porsche GT Team has continued its impressive streak of pole positions in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In the hunt for top times on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, works driver Gianmaria Bruni planted the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR on the first grid spot. Setting a lap time of 2:14.481 minutes, the Italian, who shares the car with Austria’s Richard Lietz, was the fastest GT driver on the 7.004-kilometre racetrack. The No. 92 sister car driven by Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark), the winners of the season opener in Sebring, take up the race from position two. For the last two years, the 378 kW (515 PS) 911 from Weissach has proven unbeatable in the GTE-Pro class qualifying.
“Positions one and two – you can’t do better than that,” smiles Alexander Stehlig, Director Factory Motorsport FIA WEC. “I’m thrilled that the guys in the No. 91 car have secured pole position. It was an exciting qualifying, with lap times repeatedly cancelled when cars exceeded the track limits. Our No. 91 entry got caught out on the second attempt, so Gianmaria drove another flying lap. That was the one. Both cars on the front grid row: tomorrow’s race will definitely be exciting!”
In sunny conditions and spring temperatures of 19 degrees Celsius, conditions were perfect in Belgium’s Ardennes region. At the start of the 10-minute qualifying session, both 911 RSR waited in the pits. The aim was to wait for a clear run without being hampered by traffic. This tactic worked for Michael Christensen in the No. 92 car. The Dane immediately planted his Porsche at the top of the timesheets. His brand teammate Bruni had initially crossed the white track demarcation lines. When his fastest lap was cancelled, the Italian had to pull out all stops. In the very last second, Bruni bumped the sister car off first place.
In the GTE-Am category, the gentleman driver Brendan Iribe put in a strong effort. Driving the 911 RSR for the first time on the so-called “Ardennes rollercoaster”, the successful American businessman posted the third quickest time in class in the No. 56 Project 1 car. The sister car fielded by the customer squad from Germany’s Lower Saxony takes up the race from the fifth grid spot. The two 911 racing cars campaigned by Dempsey-Proton Racing achieved positions six and nine, with the identical model entered by GR Racing starting from P12.
Round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC takes off on Sunday, 7 May at 1.00 pm. The six-hour race is considered a rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The highlight of the season will be contested on 11/12 June on the legendary 13.6-kilometre road course in the west of France.
Driver’s comments on the qualifying
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “The car’s balance was great. I got a clear run and everything came together. I love the track at Spa and I’ve always had great fun driving here – especially when everything goes so smoothly. We earned an important point today, but tomorrow the game starts from scratch. Anything can happen in the race. Rain is forecast. Whether the rain is heavy or not, the race over six hours will certainly be exciting.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “That was an eventful session! On my way back to the pits, I was still at the top of the timesheets. I was hampered a bit by traffic, however my lap time was good – but not good enough. The grip on the racetrack improved as time went on. Both 911 RSR start from the first grid row. It doesn’t get much better than that before the start of the race.”
1. Bruni/Lietz (I/A), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 2:14.301 minutes
2. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 2:14.481 minutes
3. Tandy/Milner (GB/USA), Corvette C8.R #64, 2:14.606 minutes
4. Calado/Pier Guidi (GB/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 2:15.102 minutes
5. Fuoco/Molina (I/E), Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 2:15.443 minutes
1. Keating/Chaves/Sörensen (USA/P/DK), Aston Martin #33, 2:17.408 minutes
2. Dalla Lana/Pittard/Thiim (USA/GB/DK), Aston Martin #98, 2:18.912 minutes
3. Iribe/Barnicoat/Millroy (USA/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 2:19.700 minutes
5. Leutwiler/Cairoli/Pedersen (CH/I/DK), Porsche 911 RSR #46, 2:20.937 minutes
6. Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell (D/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 2:21.027 minutes
9. Poordad/Heylen/Lindsey (USA/B/USA), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 2:22.622 minutes
12. Wainwright/Barker/Pera (GB/GB/I), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 2:24.384 minutes