The #221 Porsche 911 GT3 R entered by the GPX Martini Racing team was one of the prime attractions at the 75th 24 Hours of Spa. It made a big contribution to the thrills experienced by the 73.000 spectators who had chosen to spend an excellent weekend attending the greatest GT endurance race in the world. With its livery evoking the no. 21 Porsche 917 LH that competed in the 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans and its trio of works Porsche drivers, winners of the event in 2019, its performance could have led to it achieving a well-deserved place on the podium. But the engine decided otherwise. However, the GPX Racing team took advantage of their stay in Belgium to confirm the continuation of their partnership with Porsche and they announced the major events in which they will be taking part in the near future.
Unlike the last three seasons, GPX Martini Racing is not competing in the full GT World Challenge Europe. But thanks to everybody’s experience and involvement the pieces of the puzzle quickly fell into place to create an awesome package. The #221 Porsche just scraped into qualifying for the Superpole in which the 20 quickest cars went for the top grid position over two flying laps. Driven by Kevin Estre it clinched fifth place on the grid. In the race itself it was always fighting among the favourites and was lying second at the end of the ninth hour. Unfortunately, just when the race was restarted after being interrupted by the red flag in the middle of the night, the German car’s engine brutally gave up the ghost.
Richard Lietz: “We put on a really good show until our retirement. We were always among the front-runners; the car was running well and we were able to adjust the setup as the race unfolded to obtain an excellent balance. Suddenly the engine just expired. It’s a real pity. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a setback behind the safety car!”
Kévin Estre: “Competing in the Superpole wasn’t easy as we don’t know the Pirelli tyres as well as the teams that are regular contenders in the championship. But we achieved the objective that we set ourselves by breaking into the top 5. In the race, we got the strategy right and we were just getting quicker and quicker. In the night it felt as if the track was coming back to us; it’s a real pity we couldn’t take advantage of it till the very end!”
Michael Christensen: “We gave everything. The car was getting better and better and we were really quick during the night. The team always took the right decisions and us drivers avoided errors; it’s not always obvious with 66 cars on the track! This sport can be pretty cruel at times, but we’re still together this evening to celebrate our great performance!”
Pierre-Brice Mena, team principal: “We followed our plan to the letter during the week. Despite practice sessions perturbed by several red flags, we found performance pretty quickly. The drivers and the technical team were in a serene frame of mind before the race. We used an off-beat strategy that gave us a slight advantage compared to the other favourites; it helped us seize certain opportunities. We were running between second and fourth places until the engine suddenly let go. Now, we’re going to work on the next steps on our programme in Endurance GT3, which will be a mix of circuits we know and new experiences.”
GPX Martini Racing is exploring several avenues for the coming months: The Gulf 12 Hours, the final event of the IGTC (Intercontinental GT Challenge), a return to the Dubai 24 Hours which the team won in 2021 and the discovery of motor racing American style at the 24 Hours of Daytona!”
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