While Richard Lietz is on the verge of the GT drivers’ title, the Austrian feels Porsche faces an uphill battle of claiming both the FIA WEC teams’ and manufacturers’ championships in Saturday’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
Lietz heads into the title-deciding round with a 20-point lead over AF Corse’s Davide Rigon and James Calado and only needs to finish the race to be crowned GT drivers’ champion.
However, with Porsche trailing Ferrari by four points and Porsche Team Manthey enjoying a 14-point lead over AF Corse, the other title scenarios are much more complex, compounded by the pair of factory 911 RSR’s lack of pace so far this weekend.
“At the beginning of the weekend, we tried to to pressure Ferrari [in order] to win the manufacturer and teams championship, but it looks like we are not quick enough,” Lietz told Sportscar365.
“Based on what I’ve seen in practice, the Ferrari looks very [consistent] and the Astons look really strong here. It’s going to be difficult to beat them.
“We can only concentrate on us doing a clean race, everything we can. But pace-wise, we’re not there where we want to be.”
Lietz and co-driver Michael Christensen headed into Bahrain on the heels of their third class victory in the last four races, aided by a pair of rain-soaked races in Fuji and Shanghai that better suited the rear-engined Porsche.
However, with rain unlikely in the Arabian desert, Lietz admitted the chances of walking away with all three titles, and denying Ferrari its fourth consecutive manufacturers’ crown will be slim.
“We’re here to do the best for Porsche, if we’re able to do anything in the front of the championship,” Lietz said.
“Porsche wants us to be good in the team championship and the manufacturers’ championship. That’s the point.
“We never wish anybody bad luck but we hope we do a good race and do everything we can to be there in the end. Whatever happens happens.”
Despite their odds in GTE-Pro this weekend, 2015 has still been the year of Porsche.
The German manufacturer scored a historic 1-2 victory at Le Mans, already has clinched the World Manufacturers’ Championship and took all three IMSA GTLM titles, including an overall victory at Petit Le Mans.
It’s success has also translated well to GTE-Pro, with Lietz and Christensen collecting three class victories, although a challenging few early season races put them on the back foot.
“For us, I have to say the WEC races have been good,” Lietz said. “We’ve been competitive. At Le Mans we were off but this was up to a Le Mans-spec. [For the other races] the car was competitive and good. That’s why we had some good races.
“I had a new teammate this year with Michael. I really enjoyed the time with him and he’s been doing a fantastic job. I think it’s a good team that’s working at the moment.
“Whatever happens next year, I have no idea but I hope to race again, maybe with him, in GT racing. That’s for sure.”
Even if the teams’ and manufacturers’ titles go the way of Italy, Lietz could end up becoming the first non-Ferrari driver to win the GT world title in WEC history, which the 32-year-old admitted would be a top achievement on a personal level.
“It would be nice to do it,” he said. “We won the [European] Le Mans Series in 2009-10 with Marc Lieb, then the ILMC championship and since then it’s always been an Italian car. It would be nice to get it back to Germany. That’s for sure.
“It would be a nice achievement but we still have a very long six hours to go.”