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Porsche Drivers: Spa Circuit Plays to 911 RSR’s Strengths

Factory drivers Estre, Christensen and Lietz reflect on Porsche’s prowess at Belgian venue…

Photo: MPS Agency

Porsche drivers Kevin Estre, Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen have suggested that the Porsche 911 RSR-19’s compatibility with the Spa-Francorchamps circuit characteristics could explain the manufacturer’s recent GTE-Pro form at the Belgian track.

Porsche GT Team has had a strong run of success at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa in recent years, particularly with its No. 92 car which has won taken class victories during the previous two events and finished on the podium in 2018 and 2019.

Estre, who was part of the last two victories teaming with Christensen and Neel Jani respectively, suggested that the Spa circuit plays well into the 911’s characteristics as an all-rounder.

“I think we’re very good on the brakes, you have quite big [braking zones] here,” Estre told Sportscar365.

“It’s also a good car on the aero. Since we drive here with the RSR we’ve been very strong but to be honest, I’m not 100 percent sure why.

“I think the brakes makes a difference and the high speed [driving] and here, you have quite a lot of high speed.

“You have a bit of everything and I think our car is quite good everywhere; also I think we do very well on setup here.

“It is very difficult, because we have a lot of everything. It’s very difficult to find the right setup for all the corners.

“And I think the engineers did a mega job the last two or three years to just be spot on and give us a good car for every corner.”

Estre’s co-driver Christensen, similarly a GTE-Pro class winner in 2020, also suggested that the flowing nature of the Spa circuit plays into Porsche’s favor.

“I just believe it’s due to a good rhythm, there is a good flow,” Christensen said.

“There’s not so much stop and start, which requires a lot of torque, which we don’t have.  So we are pretty good with car balance and flow. If the track has that, we’re strong.

“Look at the Nordschleife: it’s all about flow and there we are strong. We don’t stop and start much and I believe that has a relation to it.”

Richard Lietz hinted that another factor of Porsche’s success at Spa lays in the changeable weather conditions that the circuit has become known for.

Over the last number of years, the majority of WEC races at the circuit have been held under varying conditions, notably featuring snow and hail during the 2019 event.

According to the Austrian, the 911 RSR performs well under such changing circumstances.

“What I have seen basically, is that in the racetracks, or in places where we have mixed conditions like Nurburgring or Spa, the 911 is a successful car,” said Lietz.

“So basically, I think the possibility of driving with slick tires a bit longer in the wet or driving [with] the rain tires a bit longer to dry and just know that it’s always working. That could be one answer to this question.

“This is like the Nürburgring, it’s the same altitude and if you are in Spa or at Nurburgring, the weather is unpredictable and still the tarmac has very good grip.

“I think that a lot of times when it is mixed conditions, the Porsche was very, very strong.”

Lietz also suggested that an added benefit to that is the 911 RSR-19 is able to perform better under colder conditions.

“It’s just that we put temperature in the tires quite easily, for whatever reason,” he added.

“Therefore we are able to hold temperature in moments where the tire is quite easy to cool down like with wet spots or like last year, when it was very cold.

“I think that we struggle a bit maybe when it’s very hot and we have to do double stints as we demand a bit more from the tires, but this helps us when it’s mixed conditions.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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