Posted by: porschebahn | August 2, 2009

Race report for Le Mans Series round 3 in Portimao, Portugal

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Podium result for Porsche team from France

At the spectacular night race of the Le Mans Series in Portugal, the French Porsche customer team IMSA Performance Matmut celebrated a podium result. Works driver Patrick Pilet and Raymond Narac (both French) secured second position in the GT2 class after a spirited but perfect run with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The two works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria), who travelled to the 1,000 kilometre race on the Algarve as points’ leaders of the championship after securing two victories from two races, managed to yield some points despite their 911 being the victim of an accident at the start. The pair, however, slid down one position in the rankings to now occupy second place.

Patrick Pilet had mixed feelings: “Second place is our best result to date this season and so we’re very pleased. But we definitely had a winning car today. The 911 ran like a dream and the handling was perfect. That takes a little shine off our enthusiasm.” Pilet had led the race for two hours only to lose one and a half minutes in the pits. The car had also been damaged in the accident at the start and a rear mudguard had to undergo repairs. His teammate Raymond Narac rejoined the race in third: “The race was difficult in the dark. You have to stay totally focussed. Our goal was to stay out of any fights amongst the prototypes, and we did this. Congratulations to Patrick, today he delivered a masterpiece.”

Lietz: “Our goal is to reclaim the championship lead at the Nürburgring”

The Felbermayr-Proton squad experienced a race of pure drama. In the chaos heading into the first corner after the start, the young Portuguese driver Francisco Cruz Martins dramatically missed the braking point and hit the rear right wheel of Lietz and Lieb. For Cruz Martins, Christian Ried (Germany) and Horst Felbermayr Jr. (Austria) a broken suspension signalled an early retirement. Richard Lietz was able to continue after receiving a new wheel, but one hour later a rear wheel mount broke as a consequence of the accident. Moreover, one of the three bolts that hold the rear axle was broken, which resulted in a one-hour repair. Lieb rejoined the race with a 30-lap gap to the GT2 class leader.

Lieb and Lietz fought to the finish like legendary lions, clocked spectacular lap times and finished eighth in the GT2 class. “Two points for pole and eighth place is a bitter outcome for a race that we could have won,” said a disappointed Marc Lieb. “Before the race we were seven points ahead of our rivals, now we sit two points behind the leaders. That hurts, particularly because our car was simply a dream today. Over the winter we had developed the 911 GT3 RSR and now, by the third race, we had everything sorted out perfectly – until the crash. It is a miracle that our team got the heavily damaged car back on the track and running at all. This just goes to show how highly professional and engaged the boys are. That was fabulous.”

Richard Lietz said: “Francisco came and apologised to me, he is completely devastated about his driving error. Today Marc and I are disappointed, but at the same time we are confident because we know we have a winning car and we can still clinch the championship. Our goal is to reclaim the championship lead in three weeks at the Nürburgring.”

Round four of the 2009 Le Mans Series takes place on 23 August on the Nürburgring.

Statistics: 3rd of 5 races in the Le Mans Series in Portimao, Portugal

Result GT2 class
1. Bell/Bruni (GBR/ITA), Ferrari F430 GT, 190 laps
2. Pilet/Narac (FRA/FRA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 190
3. Garcia/Mansell/Melo (ESP/GBR/BRA), Ferrari F430 GT, 189
4. Ehret/Farnbacher/Beltoise (DEU/DEU/FRA), Ferrari F430 GT, 188
5. Simonsen/Kaffer (DNK/DEU), Ferrari 430 GT, 187

GT2 Drivers’ classification
1. Robert Bell, Gianmaria Bruni, Ferrari, 25 points
2. Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Porsche, 23
3. Antonio Garcia, Leo Mansell, Ferrari, 18
4. Pierre Ehret, Ferrari, 15
5. Jaime Melo, Ferrari, 14

GT2 Manufacturers‘ classification
1. Ferrari, 45 points
2. Porsche, 34
3. Spyker, 4
4. Aston Martin, 3

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