WEC Fuji : Porsche 911 RSR tackles this season’s penultimate race from pole position

– Michael Christensen clinches first grid spot
– Gianmaria Bruni on third in the sister car
– Project 1 best Porsche customer team in qualifying

The Porsche GT Team has clinched its third pole position in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. At the wheel of the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR, Michael Christensen from Denmark qualified on pole position for the six-hour race in Fuji. Italy’s Gianmaria Bruni posted the third quickest qualifying time in the No. 91 sister car.

Michael Christensen’s fastest qualifying lap handed the Porsche GT Team pole position in Fuji, Japan. This has earned the Dane and Kévin Estre (France) another critical point in their bid for the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC title. Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) starts from the third spot on the grid. Pole position at the penultimate race of the season marks the third for the factory team from Weissach. Previously, the 911 RSR had dominated the qualifying in the GTE-Pro class at Sebring (USA) and Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium).

« That was a first-class lap from Michael. First and third on the grid are great starting positions for tomorrow’s race, » concludes Thomas Laudenbach. The Vice President of Porsche Motorsport adds: « We want to get the absolute maximum out of this weekend and have the championship at the front of our minds at all times. A one-off victory in Japan is less important than winning the world championship – but of course, we wouldn’t mind at all if we won here in Fuji. »

« It was important that we were the best in qualifying because of the good starting position and the extra point towards the championship standings, » explains Alexander Stehlig, Director Factory Motorsport FIA WEC. « On race day, we expect very warm temperatures – which will be slightly different to the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday. This throws a new challenge at us. Our goal is clear: we want to score perfect points. »

In air temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius and sunny conditions, Christensen set the fastest time of 1:36.371 minutes early in the ten-minute session. While his brand colleague Bruni matched his pace in the first sector on the 4.563-kilometre racetrack, he was hampered repeatedly by heavy traffic on his remaining laps. As such, the No. 91 Porsche, which he shares with Richard Lietz from Austria, missed out on a front grid row spot in the GTE-Pro category.

In the GTE-Am category, the two 911 RSR fielded by the Project 1 customer team achieved positions five and seven. Lining up on the grid directly behind them is Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 car. The second ca. 378 kW (515 PS) vehicle campaigned by the experienced German squad tackles the race from P9. The 911 run by the UK team GR Racing claimed P10 in qualifying.

The six-hour race in Fuji gets underway on Sunday, 11 September, at 11:00 am local time (4:00 am CEST).

Drivers’ comments on the qualifying
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): « Personally, I’m delighted that I managed such a great lap. With a view to the championship, the point for pole position can be very important, maybe even decisive. In the race, we’d like to control the field from the front – and that works best when you start from pole position. We did a perfect job today, now we’re facing the next challenge on race day. I’m feeling optimistic. »

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): « It was okay, but I was a bit unlucky on the first three laps – another car kept getting in my way. With a clear run, I definitely could’ve done better. Now we have to live with P3. Still, anything is possible in a long six-hour race. »

Nicolas Leutwiler (Porsche 911 RSR #46): « Best Porsche in our class! That’s what I was aiming for in qualifying. I’m really pleased. I concentrated so hard on the ideal racing line. I made just one small mistake on my flying lap. P5 is fine – anything is possible from that grid position. If we make it through without incident, we’ll have a good chance. »

Qualifying result
GTE-Pro class:
1. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 1:36.371 minutes
2. Pier Guidi/Calado (I/UK), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 1:36.566 minutes
3. Bruni/Lietz (I/A), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 1:36.800 minutes
4. Molina/Fuoco (E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 1:36.851 minutes
5. Milner/Tandy (USA/UK), Corvette C8.R #64, 1:37.127 minutes

GTE-Am class:
1. Keating/Chaves/Sörensen (USA/P/DK), Aston Martin #33, 1:39.309 minutes
2. Bovy/Frey/Gatting (B/CH/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE #85, 1:39.371 minutes
3. Dezoteux/Ragues/Aubry (F/F/F), Ferrari 488 GTE #71, 1:39.461 minutes
5. Cairoli/Pedersen/Leutwiler (I/DK/CH), Porsche 911 RSR #46, 1:39.796 minutes
7. Kimura/Millroy/Barnicoat (J/UK/UK), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 1:39.853 minutes
8. Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell (D/UK/UK), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 1:39.874 minutes
9. Poordad/Lindsey/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 1:40.052 minutes
10. Wainwright/Barker/Pera (UK/UK/I), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 1:40.271 minutes