Porsche 911 GT3 R fight for overall victory at Spa-Francorchamps

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Manthey EMA (#92), Laurens Vanthoor (B), Kevin Estre (F), Julien Andlauer (F)

– After a turbulent night, Manthey EMA’s ‘Grello’ is running fourth
– Rutronik Racing on P5 after 16 hours thanks to a flawless drive
– Bad luck strikes the Pro-Porsche of Dinamic GT Huber Racing
– Five of the 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R in the same lap as the leader

Porsche’s customer teams are still within striking distance of the leaders with their 911 GT3 R racing cars at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps after two-thirds of the race distance. Manthey EMA’s ‘Grello’ at times led the field during the night. At 8:30 am, the car was running in fourth place, followed closely by Rutronik Racing.

After a turbulent night with several, sometimes two-hour-long full-course yellow phases, the 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps remains enthralling. By 8:30 this morning, five Porsche were still running in the same lap as the leaders. This means they still have a good chance of achieving a top result. After two-thirds of the race distance, the customer team Manthey EMA’s 911 GT3 R holds the best position. The ‘Grello’ drivers experienced an eventful night. At 9:17 pm, Julien Andlauer took the lead. Three-quarters of an hour later, during his refuelling stop, he had to serve a 30-second penalty for exceeding the track limits. As a result, the No. 92 car dropped back to fifth place. Furthermore, two early tyre changes disrupted the Porsche’s pit stop rhythm. However, thanks to a clever strategy during the yellow flag phases, Andlauer, his French compatriot Kévin Estre, and Belgian Laurens Vanthoor never lost contact with the leaders. The ‘Grello’ managed to take the lead two more times during the night. At 8:30 am, Estre was defending fourth place.

Virtually in the slipstream of the Manthey EMA car, Rutronik Racing’s 911 GT3 R advanced to fifth place. The three Porsche DTM drivers Thomas Preining from Austria, Dennis Olsen from Norway and Laurin Heinrich from Germany made it through the night without any major problems.

Dinamic GT Huber Racing’s No. 54 Porsche was hit by bad luck. The car, piloted by German Christian Engelhart and the two former Porsche Juniors Sven Müller (Germany) and Ayhancan Güven (Turkey), took advantage of a caution phase to take the overall lead for the second time at around 6:30 in the morning. Once again, however, the joy was short-lived: when the safety car restarted the race half an hour later, a rival sent the 911 GT3 R spinning out of the La Source hairpin. At the 16-hour mark, the car was in 15th place.

The 24-hour race on the Belgian Grand Prix circuit is considered the most significant event for GT3 cars worldwide and counts towards the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC). Drivers and cars earn points for the GT World Challenge after six, twelve and 24 hours. The race will be live-streamed on the website www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com.

Thanks to a largely problem-free performance, the Pure Rxcing customer team managed to advance into first place in the Bronze Cup in the early hours of the day. The driver-crew Klaus Bachler (Austria), the two Germans Joel Sturm and Marco Seefried, as well as Aliaksandr Malykhin from the UK, progressed to P13 in the overall standings. Directly behind them: Herberth Motorsport with the Dutch driver Kay van Berlo – Porsche Motorsport North America’s selected driver – and the three Germans Ralf Bohn, Robert and Alfred Renauer.

Comments on the race so far
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): « We made it through the night in one piece and are constantly pushing for a podium result. The guys are maintaining an incredible pace – whether it’s Dinamic GT, Manthey EMA or Rutronik Racing. We’re currently struggling a bit with the track boundaries but that also means we’re driving at the limit. We’re well within the top 10 however we also want to go for gold in the Pro-Am and Bronze Cup categories, where the situation also looks promising. »

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): « The cool conditions don’t make it easy. The tyres quickly pick up debris on the cold asphalt. If I had a say, it wish it would get warmer soon. But all in all, things are still looking good and we’re heading in the right direction. »

Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3R #96): « Up to this point, everything has gone pretty well. Unfortunately, we didn’t make as much progress in the early stages as we would have liked. But when Laurin Heinrich climbed aboard for the first time, he demonstrated just how fast our Porsche 911 GT3 can go. From then on, we kept the pressure on. The car is running like clockwork so far. However, you have to manage the tyres properly over the entire stint. We’re in for an exciting final phase – it’s pretty intense out there on the track. »

Ralf Bohn (Porsche 911 GT3R #91): « We don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch, but we can be very satisfied. After Kay van Berlo’s excellent start and great performances from Alfred and Robert Renauer, I was able to complete my first three stints without any problems. We only had one puncture, but Kay spotted it in time and we were able to change the tyre in the pits swiftly. The Porsche is performing brilliantly and so is the team. We’re currently in second place in the Bronze Cup. Of course, everyone wants to win but for now, our goal is to make it to the finish line. »

Holger Eckhardt