Porsche pilots look forward to time-honoured British circuit
Stuttgart. The tradition-steeped Silverstone race track hosts the fourth and penultimate round of this year’s Le Mans Series. The goal for Porsche works drivers and title defenders Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) is a podium spot in the GTE Pro class. In the GTE Am category, Frenchmen Nicolas Armindo and Raymond Narac aim to defend their lead in the drivers’ standings with the 2010-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The race also counts as the fifth round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
The 1,000 kilometre race on the Grand Prix circuit situated near Birmingham in the British Midlands has been a highlight on the Le Mans Series calendar since 2004. It is the last race before the season final on 25th September in Portugal’s Estoril. Sports car racing has a long heritage on the former airfield. And the enthusiastic British motorsport fans lend a very special atmosphere.
After undergoing modifications last year, the circuit now measures 5.891 kilometres. Legendary corners like Copse, Stowe and Brooklands are part of the Silverstone myth that fascinates drivers and fans alike.
The Porsche drivers
Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz (Felbermayr-Proton) are joined by four other Porsche factory drivers in Silverstone. Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) share driving duties in the cockpit of IMSA Performance Matmut’s 911 GT3 RSR. Their works driver colleague Marco Holzer (Germany) joins forces with Marc Goossens from Belgium for ProSpeed Competition. These driver pairings contest the GTE Pro category with the 2011-version of the 911 GT3 RSR. In the GTE Am sports car class, in which only one professional driver per vehicle is permitted to compete, three other 2010-spec 911 take up the race. In this category, all races have been won by Porsche teams by now. Thanks to their success in Spa-Francorchamps and Imola, Raymond Narac and Nicolas Armindo (IMSA Performance Matmut) travel to Great Britain as leaders of the drivers’ championship. Felbermayr team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and Horst Felbermayr Junior (Austria) also have one victory to their credit from Le Castellet. In the third 911 contesting the GTE Am class, Patrick Long as the sixth Porsche works driver as well as Porsche Cup winner Gianluca Roda (Italy) fight for points in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for their Proton Competition squad.
Quotes before the race
Marc Lieb: “I’ve always enjoyed driving in Silverstone, it’s a great circuit. But after the last modifications, I miss my previous favourite corner ‘Bridge’ which ran under one. A podium result would be great for the team, particularly since the season was anything but easy.”
Richard Lietz: “Silverstone is one of my favourite circuits, most of all the fast combination after the finish straight makes every lap a challenge. I like the whole atmosphere and the British fans. They are always so incredibly well informed. A podium placing will be tough, but that’s our goal.”
Wolf Henzler: “2004 was the last time I drove in Silverstone and I’ve won a Porsche Supercup race there. Since then the track has of course changed, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Our sights are set on the podium. My victory at the ALMS race in Mid-Ohio gives me that extra motivation.”
Marco Holzer: “Last year we concluded the season in Silverstone with a fantastic second place. I really like the new section of the track with its two quick corners and the following slow curve. In fact, I like fast circuits very much and hope we can follow up on our good performance here last year.”
Patrick Pilet: “The many high-speed corners make Silverstone one of my favourites. And now the new section offers several places to overtake. Okay, maybe the track characteristics are not ideal for our 911, but because of its unpredictable weather, anything is possible in Silverstone.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The most successful GT race car of the 2010 season received some improvements for 2011. The output of the four-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine increased to 455 hp.
Silverstone is particularly good turf for Porsche. At the seven final races of the Le Mans Series since 2004, Porsche works driver Marc Lieb has celebrated four championship titles in the 911 GT3 RSR – in 2009 and 2010 with Richard Lietz. Moreover, several team titles and the coveted manufacturers’ title of 2010 in the fiercely-contested sports car category went to Porsche. In the LMP2 class, Porsche swept the trophy pool in 2008: This successful season concluded with a double victory for the Porsche RS Spyder sports prototype – with titles claimed for driver, team and manufacturer.
The six hour race starts on Sunday, 11 September, at 11.35 hours local time (CEST 12.35 hours). Qualifying for the GTE classes takes place on Saturday from 13.35 to 13.55 hours local time.
Eurosport broadcasts the start and the initial phase from 12.30 to 14.00 hours CEST live and returns with coverage towards the end of the race (17.45 to 18.30 hrs CEST). In between, Eurosport 2 shows 60 minutes of live coverage in Silverstone from 15.00 hrs.
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 may have just one professional driver.
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. With four title wins in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010, Porsche works driver Marc Lieb is the most successful pilot in the series.