Porsche starts the new world championship season at Spa in the six-hour race at the famous circuit in the Ardennes region of Belgium on 5 May 2018. This is the first race on the 15-month long Super Season of the FIA Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC.
The 7-kilometre circuit offers a challenging mix of high-speed sections, the hairpin at La Source, all while accommodating an altitude difference of around 100 metres, making this opening round, a real rollercoaster affair. Throw in the unpredictable weather in the Ardennes, and you have a genuine racing spectacle on your hands.
Sharing the cockpit of the #91 car will be the new driver pairing of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz who will tackle a world sports car championship race together for the first time. Bruni, as the two-time champion (previously with Ferrari), contested the second half of the 2017 IMSA Weathertech Championship with Porsche in the USA and is thus well acquainted with the 911 RSR. Driving the # 92 Porsche 911 RSR will be the familiar 2017 pairing of Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen.
In the GTE-Am class, three Porsche customer teams run a total of four 911 RSR racers. The Project 1 team will be served by Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti. The British pilots Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker join forces with Australian Alex Davison to compete for Gulf Racing. Dempsey Proton Racing competes with two GT racers from Weissach. Sharing the wheel of the #77 car for the Super Season are Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer. Matteo Cairoli, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Giorgio Roda pilot the second 911 RSR, the #88 Dempsey Proton Racing RSR.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars): “Our Porsche GT Team is facing a long and exciting season. The Prologue in Le Castellet underlined that we’re ready for this task. Together with the three customer teams, the fans can look forward to seeing six Porsche 911 RSR in action at the first race in the Ardennes. It’s important for us to make a good start into the Super Season before we tackle Le Mans with ten of our 911 RSR.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “The Spa circuit represents top-league motor racing and throws very special challenges at drivers and the 911 RSR. You can only fight for victory on this diverse racetrack with the right setup. The entire team knows the importance of the season-opener and is perfectly prepared.”
Gianmaria Bruni (911 RSR #91): “I can hardly wait to return to the WEC after a year’s break. The Spa racetrack is one of the most beautiful in the world. We’d like to hit the ground running at the first race and start with a good performance.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #91): “A new driver pairing always takes a bit of getting used to, but this went really quickly with Gianmaria at the test. Our work together has been very promising so far and we complement each other excellently. For the new season, we’ve put a great deal of emphasis on developing and choosing the tyre compounds in conjunction with Michelin so that we’re well prepared for the changing weather conditions.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “The weather always plays a major role at Spa. Plus, it’s the only race before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So, it’s even more important to start the season successfully.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #92): “The last few years didn’t go so well for us at Spa, so we’re keen to change that this year. We’re well prepared and we can’t wait for the season to begin.”
Jörg Bergmeister (911 RSR #56): “Spa is my home track, which always makes the race something very special. It’s really exciting for Project 1 because it’s the first WEC race for my team. We’ve worked meticulously on preparing for this challenge and I’m looking forward to the new season.”
Matt Campbell (911 RSR #77): “For me, the six-hour race at Spa is the second most important event after the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The sports car world championship is a big step in my career. I still need to gain experience in the 911 RSR, however the official tests were very promising.”
Julien Andlauer (911 RSR #77): “Spa is a great racetrack that demands a great deal of skill from drivers. I’m really looking forward to my debut in the WEC.”
Matteo Cairoli (911 RSR #88): “I’m pleased to be back working with Dempsey Proton Racing in the WEC. We’re one big family and we work together very professionally. In 2017, we had a chance at the title, and we’d like to go for it again in the Super Season.”
The six-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps begins on Saturday 5 May 2018 at 14h30 hrs local time. Porsche Road & Race will be there from the first practice lap on Thursday right up until the chequered flag falls on Saturday evening. Be sure to check back with us throughout this period as we will be posting updates there and on social media.
Edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & John Mountney