The 2016 motorsport season ended successfully for Porsche at the Intercontinental GT Challenge 12-hour race on the Sepang International Circuit on 11 December 2016. Second place went to Earl Bamber, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy, while their teammates clinched fifth place at the final round.
With a spectacular charge through the field in torrential rain, Porsche works drivers Earl Bamber, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy secured second place with the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Manthey Racing. Over a long stretch, their teammates Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki were also on track for a podium spot, but ultimately clinched fifth place. In hot and humid weather with temperatures of over 30°C, Richard Lietz took off into Asia’s most important long distance race from pole position. However, the Austrian, Lietz, who last year won the FIA World Endurance Cup as the most successful GT driver, was beaten off the line by Bamber, who had started directly behind his teammate in third place. This did not stop him from winning the sprint to the first corner and snatching the lead position in a top-class field of cars of thirteen manufacturers. Bamber has lived in Malaysia for many years and has contested many races in Asia, making the 5.543-kilometre Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur practically his home track.
After taking over the wheel of the #912 car from Richard Lietz, Frédéric Makowiecki used the restart after the first safety car phase (an hour into the race) to move up to second place. The #911 car continued to defend the lead spot, now with Nick Tandy at the wheel. When heavy rain set in after four-and-a-half hours of racing, they lost their one-two positions during the pit stop while switching to wets. After five hours, the #911 was sitting in second, with the #912 in fourth place.
Two unscheduled pit stops over the course of the race cost additional time when the brakes had to be changed on Makowiecki’s (#912) car, and two hours later the brakes were also changed on Bamber’s (#911) car. As a result, Bamber was now lying fourth, just one place ahead of his teammate Richard Lietz. But on his home track, this was simply not good enough for Bamber and at the restart, after another safety car phase and with two hours to go, he launched a charge through the pack. Bamber proceeded to carve his way spectacularly through deep water on the track, first sweeping past the fastest Ferrari and then the second placed Audi, to grab second place for the team.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport, said after the race, “This was a race of highs and lows in very difficult weather conditions. Initially, we had a bit of a problem getting our wet tyres to really work. Once we got to grips with that the performance was there immediately. After the safety car phase, Earl put in a commanding drive to second place. Although we were a little unlucky with the caution phases, all in all it was a good race.”
Earl Bamber (#911) commented, “It’s fantastic to finish the season on the podium. We were going very well in the dry and we were leading for a long time. When it began to drizzle we had problems with the tyres. But once heavy rain set in we were back in strong form. It was a very difficult race, but a good result for Porsche.”
Patrick Pilet (#911): “This was our first time competing in Sepang and initially we had to get used to the many different conditions. What’s more, even if its damp, you can drive almost as fast on slicks as on rain tyres here, because even when it rains the asphalt hardly cools at all. Still, the last race of the year was a great experience.”
Nick Tandy (#911) had this to say, “Our 911 GT3 R performed very strongly in both dry and wet conditions. We were able to post very quick lap times. However, the changing conditions posed problems, that’s where we lost time.
|1||15||Vanthoor/Haase/Frijns||Audi R8 LMS|
|2||911||Pilet/Tandy/Bamber||Porsche 911 GT3 R|
|3||16||Kaffer/Rast/Winkelhock||Audi R8 LMS|
|4||50||Lathouras/Rugolo/Pierguidi||Ferrari 488 GT3|
|5||912||Lietz/Christensen/Makowiecki||Porsche 911 GT3 R|
|6||35||Yoshimoto/Chen/Hosokawa||Ferrari 488 GT3|
|7||11||Van Dam/Bhakdi/Sathienthirakul||Ferrari 488 GT3|
|8||88||Orido/Hiramine/Zaugg||Lamborghini Huracan GT3|
|9||27||D’Silva/Ang/Patterson||Ferrari 488 GT3|
|10||9||Parente/Ledogar/van Gisbergen||McLaren 650 S GT3|
Edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche