Kevin Estre is without a doubt one of the busiest drivers in motorsports, with the McLaren GT factory driver racing every weekend at a different track from March to July this year.
Besides his three full-season programs with the McLaren 650S GT3, the Frenchman also managed to pick up two additional rides along the way, competing with OAK Racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a one-off with the Porsche factory GT squad at Spa this weekend.
“It’s a big chance. It’s not often that as a factory driver from another brand you get a possibility to get such a deal,” Estre told Sportscar365.
“I’m back with German guys which I know quite well from my previous career in the [Porsche] Cup cars.”
While Estre is of course very skilled in GT3 racing, GTE is something new for him. And with limited track time to prepare himself for today’s six-hour FIA World Endurance Championship race, every bit of help was welcome.
“I’m used to these kind of cars but the RSR is new for me and I had no chance to test it because my busy schedule,” he said.
“I spoke quite long about the car with Joerg Bergmeister in Long Beach and also Fred Makowiecki.
“I got some tips from everybody and I try to do my own thing. But for sure it helps a lot to speak with other drivers and the engineers.”
The fact that Porsche Junior Sven Mueller is his teammate this weekend means the amount of experience in the car is very limited, although Mueller got seat time in the car in Abu Dhabi and Paul Ricard.
In the end the duo still managed to out qualify the more experienced sister car of Makowiecki and Lietz, but the 911 RSR was still one-second off the GTE-Pro pace at Spa.
“It would be a big surprise to finish in front of our teammates, because they have a lot of experience,” Estre admitted.
“The first goal is just to finish the race. Of course we want to do good, at the moment we don’t feel too much pressure.”
Estre is fresh off his second win the Pirelli World Challenge at Barber Motorsports Park, and currently sits third in the points’ standings.
“It’s a really good championship a nice fight, but some of the recent decisions from race control were not fair,” he said. “Apart from that, the championship is really cool.
“For a driver it’s great to just push for 50 minutes, be alone in the car, without any driver change or pitstop.”
With GT3, GTE and LMP2 all on his schedule, the Frenchman is jumping between different types of machinery this year, offering him the perfect opportunity to show his versatility.
“I can’t say I like it, but I got used to it,” he said. “It’s good that I spent the early part of my career in a Porsche, which is a great car to learn and it especially keeps you awake.
“Everybody says, ‘If you’re fast in a Porsche, you can be fast everywhere.’ It’s pretty accurate when you see Porsche drivers jump in LMP1 and DTM cars.”
After Spa, the next big event on Estre’s radar is Le Mans where he’ll be making his long-awaited debut at the wheel of an OAK Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.
“The biggest objective was at first to do Le Mans because that’s the biggest race you want to do as a driver and it was missing on my list,” Estre said.
While he’s grateful for the opportunity to make his LMP2 debut, Estre is already dreaming of the next step up.
“At the end of the day when you look at this championship, you want to be in LMP1 and for sure I would be happier there,” he said.
“We all want to have good contract, whether that’s in GT or LMP1. You try to have fun with your friends driving the cars and that’s the main thing.
“I’m really pleased that McLaren allowed me to do this one shot here with Porsche, but my commitments with them have priority. All the other races are just a bonus.
“I’ll keep the situation like this until the end of the year and we’ll see in the winter how it goes.”