At round five of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin on 23 February, Porsche aims to clinch its first U.S. victory with the new 911 RSR.
After a successful start to the 2019/2020 season with a one-two at Silverstone (Great Britain) as well as podium spots in Fuji (Japan) and Shanghai (China), fifth and sixth places followed at the Sakhir (Bahrain) race in December prior to the winter break.
Moreover, the Porsche GT Team had posted pole position three times. After four rounds, the works team currently ranks second in the manufacturers’ classification with the two latest-generation Porsche 911 RSR racers. In the drivers’ category, the two GT racers sit third and fifth. Three customer teams field another five 2017-spec Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class at the six-hour race in Austin, Texas.
After the cancellation of the race in São Paulo (Brazil), the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC returns to Austin this season. The Circuit of the Americas already hosted the World Sports Car Championship between 2013 and 2017. The 5.513-kilometre Grand Prix circuit with its 20 turns and at times significant changes in elevation is considered a very demanding racetrack. Since its completion in 2012, the Circuit of the Americas to the south of Austin is a regular venue for Formula 1 races in the USA. On account of the many bumpy sections, parts of the track surface were removed and replaced at the beginning of 2020.
The Porsche GT Team drivers
Gianmaria Bruni from Italy and Austria’s Richard Lietz helm the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR. The duo returns to Austin with fond memories. Lietz won the GTE-Pro class in 2015. In the past, his teammate Bruni has claimed three podium spots at the WEC race in Texas. The current WEC champions Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre also have good memories: Christensen won in 2015 and finished second with Estre at the final WEC round at Austin in 2017. The Danish-French pair shares the cockpit of the No. 92 car.
The customer teams
Dempsey-Proton Racing tackles the race in the USA with two 2017-spec Porsche 911 RSR. Sharing driving duties in the racer (No. 77) is the newly-signed Porsche works driver Matt Campbell (Australia), team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and the Italian Riccardo Pera. Manning the No. 88 sister car is Porsche Young Professional Thomas Preining from Austria, Belgium’s Adrien de Leener and Bret Curtis from the USA.
The Project 1 customer team also campaigns two 2017-generation Porsche 911 RSR. At the wheel of the No. 56 car are Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Le Mans class winner Egidio Perfetti (Norway) and the Dane David Heinemeier Hansson. Ben Keating from America joins forces with Jeroen Bleekemolen from the Netherlands and Felipe Fraga from Brazil to tackle the race. Gulf Racing’s No. 86 vehicle is shared by the all-British line-up Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker and Andrew Watson.
Comments before the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Motorsport): “After the winter break, we’re looking forward to the second half of the WEC season. I hope we can continue our great performance from the first three races.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “The new Porsche 911 RSR has already underlined its huge potential in this season’s WEC. We had a great start with a one-two and other podium results from the first three races. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for us in Bahrain, but we’ve done our homework and we’re heading to the USA full of optimism.”
Alexander Stehlig (Head of Operations FIA WEC): “Unfortunately, we lost our point advantage at the previous race in Bahrain and we’ve now turned from the hunted to the hunter. We’re happy to assume this role. We’ve had a good look at what happened in Bahrain and drawn our conclusions. We’ve implemented the lessons from the last race and will now tackle the rest of the season stronger. Austin has always been good turf for us so we’re looking forward to the upcoming race.”