– Manthey EMA’s ‘Grello’ takes the lead after a spirited charge
– Rutronik Racing’s 911 gains ground to now reach the top 10
– Seven of the 14 Porsche 911 GT3 R still in the lead lap
After the opening phase of the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps, Porsche’s customer teams campaigning the 911 GT3 R continue to hold promising positions. By the four-hour mark, Manthey EMA’s so-called ‘Grello’ racer had worked its way up the order from 14th on the grid to second. At 9:17 pm, Julien Andlauer swept into the lead. Currently, six of the 14 Porsche 911 are still on the same lap as the leader.
The endurance classic on the 7.004-kilometre Grand Prix circuit had started on a drying track. However, an accident involving the Porsche of GMG Racing by Car Collection Motorsport behind the leading car delayed the start of the race by 20 minutes. Huber Motorsport’s 911 GT3 R got off the line cleanly from pole position to maintain its front spot. Start driver Matteo Cairoli was able to defend first place for the next 60 minutes. The No. 20 Porsche also held its position among the frontrunners for a long stretch. After the first sixth of the race, the car was running in P30 and fifth in the bronze category.
Laurens Vanthoor grabbed his chance in the opening phase of the 24-hour race to launch a brilliant pursuit. Tackling the race from P14, the Porsche works driver stormed to the front at the wheel of the Manthey EMA customer team’s ‘Grello’. After 120 minutes, the Belgian reappeared among the top 3. Unfortunately, he slightly nudged a slower car at the La Source hairpin. Subsequently, the No. 92 entry was handed a ten-second pit stop penalty. Nevertheless, Vanthoor’s teammate Kévin Estre has succeeded in maintaining second place overall after four hours of racing. Almost 45 minutes after the four-hour mark, Julien Andlauer finished the job: With a daring manoeuvre, the former Porsche Junior from France skilfully outbraked the leader and moved into first place.
By 8:30 pm, Rutronik Racing’s No. 96 car had also reached the top 10. In the early stages, the DTM drivers Thomas Preining from Austria and Laurin Heinrich from Germany made up 23 places to now rank seventh.
As the fourth-best 911 GT3 R, the No. 54 Pro-Porsche fielded by Dinamic GT Huber Racing is currently in 16th place. This race car also faced a challenging path: The two Germans Christian Engelhart and Sven Müller as well as Ayhancan Güven from Turkey had started the race from the 37th grid spot.
Pure Rxcing delivered another notable performance, with the team currently in 24th overall and second in the Bronze Cup after four hours. In 35th, Ivan Jacoma, Niki Leutwiler and Alex Fontana from Switzerland and Germany’s Nico Menzel led the Silver Cup with the Porsche fielded by Car Collection Motorsport.
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.
Comments on the race so far
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): « We headed into the 24-hour race with mixed feelings and on a damp track behind the safety car. Matteo Cairoli put in a strong first stint and used his pole position to pull clear of the field. At the moment we’re maintaining a very good rhythm. Manthey EMA has now taken the lead, Rutronik Racing and Dinamic GT Huber Racing are also gaining ground lap by lap. Car Collection is currently in first place in the Pro-Am Cup and their teamwork is slick. Unfortunately, the GMG Racing by Car Collection car slid on a wet curb early on and crashed heavily. Now we’re heading into the night. We want to continue to remain calm and make it to the morning unscathed. »
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): « My first double stint was great fun! We started from position 14 and I handed over the car in third. At the beginning of the race, half of the track was wet, so I took it easy in the difficult conditions. Unfortunately, two laps before the end of my stint I touched a car slightly. That was clearly my mistake but luckily it didn’t have any major consequences. »
Marco Seefried (Porsche 911 GT3R #911): « The race is going quite well for us so far, even though we had to relinquish the lead in the Bronze Cup. We didn’t receive any penalties, didn’t have any contacts and are perfectly on track. With the grip improving on the track, the balance of our Porsche should also improve, which we had some problems with at the beginning. Let’s see what else happens. »
Jannes Fittje (Porsche 911 GT3R #20): « As expected, Matteo gave a superb performance as the start driver – he is simply incredibly fast this weekend. When I took the wheel I noticed that the tyres had deteriorated significantly over the distance. Then when Tim Heinemann got in, we tweaked the setup slightly, which also helped. Antares Au has also had a stint in the car, so we’ve all been able to get a feeling for the 911 GT3 R and the race. Now we’re trying to get through the night in one piece. »