Second grid row in the hands of Porsche teams
Stuttgart. The Porsche works drivers start the final race of the Le Mans Series season from promising positions. Posting grid position three, title defender Richard Lietz (Austria) clinched the best result of the season with the 911 GT3 RSR in the GTE Pro sports car category. On the fourth spot, Marco Holzer (Germany) takes up the six hour race alongside Lietz on the 4.182 kilometre former Grand Prix circuit of Estoril. Patrick Pilet (France) rounds off the good result with position six on the grid. In the GTE Am class, Frenchman Nicolas Armindo again set pole position with the 2010-version of the 911 GT3 RSR.
“We gave our best and are really pleased with third on the grid,” said Lietz who last year secured the championship title in the sports car class with his Felbermayr-Proton teammate Marc Lieb (Germany). “My lap was good, third on the grid is the best result of the season by now. Above all, we’re thrilled that our times are so close to the leaders. Now let’s see what the race yields for us.” After a difficult start to the season with two crashes that were not their fault, the luck of the title defenders finally turned recently in Silverstone with their first podium position.
After competing last year as a Porsche Junior, 23-year-old factory pilot Marco Holzer was delighted with his fourth grid spot. “That was a great qualifying session,” commented Holzer, who joins forces for ProSpeed Competition with Belgium’s Marc Goossens. “We missed out on the first free practice because we had to change something on our gearbox. Hence we were behind with our set-up work. But this makes our second row position even sweeter. In fact, we’ve never started so far up the front of the field this season. And we’re also hoping to further improve the handling of our 911 during the warm-up tomorrow and then the race should go well. The track is challenging but I really like it.”
The French factory pilot Patrick Pilet also seemed satisfied. “Sixth on the grid is okay,” stated Pilet, who shares driving duties for IMSA Performance Matmut with works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany). “Our car was rather difficult to drive in the practice sessions, so we tried out something very new in the qualifying but that didn't work. Now we have some things to sort out during the warm-up. And then comes the race that will undoubtedly be very exciting on this somewhat narrow circuit.”
Nicolas Armindo secured another point in the fight for the championship with his fourth pole position of the season in the GTE Am class. In this category, only one professional driver is permitted per vehicle. The reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland drives with the team owner IMSA Performance Matmut, amateur racer Raymond Narac. In compliance with the regulations, the two Frenchmen compete with a 2010-spec 911 GT3 RSR. The pair takes up the final round with an eleven point lead over their closest rival. Felbermayr-Proton’s team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and Horst Felbermayr Junior (Austria) head into tomorrow’s race from fourth in the GTE Am class.
GTE Pro class
1. Rob Bell (GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 1:39.176 minutes
2. Gianmaria Bruni (I), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.057 seconds
3. Richard Lietz (A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.198
4. Marco Holzer (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.350
5. Dominik Farnbacher (D), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.573
6. Patrick Pilet (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.788
7. Jamie Melo (BR), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 1.214
GTE Am class
1. Nicolas Armindo (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:40.014 minutes
2. Marco Cioci (I), Ferrari F430, + 0.544 seconds
3. Phil Quaife (GB), Ferrari F430, + 0.763
4. Christian Ried (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 2.093
The six hour race starts on Sunday, 25 September, at 13.00 hours local time (CEST 14.00 hours).
The Le Mans Series
Contested for the first time in 2004, the Le Mans Series (LMS) is open for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The regulations are based on those of the Le Mans 24 hour race. Five six-hour races are contested this season throughout Europe.
GTE-Pro class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers (previously known as the GT2 class) is traditionally the best supported: Modified standard sports cars with up to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms.
GTE-Am class: Like the GTE-Pro, but with the 2010-vehicle specifications. Moreover, the regulations stipulate that each vehicle must have one professional driver at the most.
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp, GT-class homologated engines and a 900 kg minimum weight.
FLM class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.
All race cars start together but are classified separately according to the class. Points are only allocated for placings in each class. Championship titles are awarded for drivers, manufacturers and teams in all five classes. Claiming four titles in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010, Porsche works driver Marc Lieb is the most successful pilot in the series.