Monday, 23 August 2010 02:00
With an impressive victory at the premiere of the Le Mans Series in Hungary, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) have considerably increased their chances of defending the title.
At the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the German-Austrian Felbermayr-Proton team, they again won the GT2 class, beating the Ferraris at the 1,000 kilometre race on the Hungaroring on the outskirts of Budapest.
With this result, they extended their points’ lead heading to the final in Silverstone on 12 September.
In a race that was fiercely contested from start to finish with many different cars holding the lead, the pair brought home their third win at the fourth race of the season.
When the flag dropped on Sunday at 22.00 hours after six hours, they held a 9.9 second advantage over the fastest Ferrari.
The key to success was not only the strong driving performance from Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz but again the perfect work of the pit crew.
When Marc Lieb pulled in to the pits for the last decisive stop a good hour before the finish sitting second, the Felbermayr-Proton crew had him back in the race twelve seconds faster than their strongest rival.
Thanks to this effort, Richard Lietz rejoined the action as number one in his class to defend the lead with an inspired drive at the wheel of the extremely reliable sports car from Weissach.
“That was our toughest race this season. The Ferraris made our lives difficult right to the finish,” said Richard Lietz.
“I only managed to pull away slightly in the last lap. This victory is all the more valuable because our starting position down the grid wasn’t that great. We definitely need to do something about our qualifying. But I’m sure we’ll improve on this.”
Marc Lieb commented with a smile: “We said we’d shout the boys 100 litres of beer for good pit stops. Our team again did the best stops and that put us in the lead. Above all, the final stop was world class.”
Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet (France) rounded off Porsche’s success on the demanding Grand Prix circuit, claiming his first podium result this season with his compatriot Raymond Narac in the 911 GT3 RSR of the French IMSA Performance Matmut squad.
“We finally did it. We were so close to finishing on the podium at every race this season but were always hampered by some problem or other. But this is now forgotten,” he said.
“To finish third here was very, very hard. But at least we’ve shown we can match the pace of the top. Now to follow up with our first victory in Silverstone, that would be the icing on the cake.”
Also contributing to the strong Porsche showing on the Hungaroring was works driver and Le Mans winner Romain Dumas (France) as well as Martin Ragginger (Austria) and Christian Ried (Germany).
Facing strong opposition in their class they brought home seventh in the second Felbermayr-Proton 911 GT3 RSR to consolidate their third position in the points at the penultimate round.
“That was a fantastic success for Porsche. Congratulations to Marc and Richard on this crucial victory,” said Romain Dumas.
“I was more than happy with my stint. It was great fun to drive against the best GT pilots in Europe on such a difficult track.”
Martin Ragginger, who had contested a Porsche Carrera Cup race in Zandvoort, Netherlands that morning, said: “What a turbulent weekend. For the first time in my career I contested two races in two different countries on the same day. It’s something I won’t quickly forget. Our most important goal here was to consolidate our third place in the championship. Now I can’t wait for the final in Silverstone.”
As the fastest Porsche in qualifying, the 911 GT3 RSR of the Belgian Prospeed Competition crew with Britain’s Richard Westbrook and the Porsche-Junior Marco Holzer (Germany) did not make it to the flag.
The third Felbermayr-Proton 911 GT3 RSR manned by Marco Seefried (Germany) and his team-mates Horst Felbermayr senior and junior earned championship points with eleventh.
The fifth and final race of the Le Mans Series season takes place on 12 September on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, Great Britain.
Statistics: 4th of 5 races at the Le Mans Series in Budapest/Hungary
Result GT2 class
1. Lieb/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 6:01:24.043 hours
2. Kirkaldy/Mullen (GB/GB), Ferrari F430 GT, + 9.930 seconds
3. Pilet/Narac (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 36.149
4. Alesi/Fisichella/Vilander (F/I/SF), Ferrari F430 GT, + 55.102
5. Lopez/Parente (P/P), Ferrari F430 GT, - 1 lap
6. Bell/Turner (GB/GB), Aston Martin, - 1 lap
7. Ragginger/Dumas/Ried (A/F/D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, - 2 laps
11. Seefried/Felbermayr sen./Felbermayr jun. (D/A/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, - 18 laps
Points’ standings GT2 class
1. Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Porsche, 78 points
2. Jean Alesi, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Ferrari, 63
3. Martin Ragginger, Christian Ried, Porsche, 52
4. Patrick Pilet, Raymond Narac, Porsche, 41
5. Luis Perez Companc, Matias Russo, Ferrari, 36
6. Patrick Long, Porsche, 35
Gianmaria Bruni, Jaime Melo, Ferrari, 35
1. Porsche, 135 points
2. Ferrari, 129
3. BMW, 30
4. Aston Martin, 17
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