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Nürburgring Endurance

Estre Needs to ‘Push Without Risk’ in Charge from Back of Grid

Manthey Porsche facing huge task to recover from back of first starting grid during N24…

Photo: GruppeC Photography

Manthey Porsche driver Kevin Estre says it will be important to find a “middle range” between aggressive overtaking and incident-free driving when he starts the Nürburgring 24 from the back of the first starting group.

The No. 1 Porsche 911 GT3 R that Estre shares with Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki and Laurens Vanthoor was penalized for an infringement during Thursday night practice, and is now set to take Saturday’s race start from outside the top 60.

Estre was deemed to have gone too quickly through an incident slow zone just after the Schumacher S.

The Frenchman later explained that he saw the yellow flags and slowed down accordingly, but was unintentionally in the wrong gear, which canceled out his car’s pit limiter and caused it to overstep the 120 km/h maximum.

Manthey now faces a huge task to defend its 2021 victory while Estre noted that he will need to find the right balance between speed and care during the early stages.

“You have to try to be as close as possible to the front, earlier,” he told Sportscar365.

“In the first hour if you are too far, you are going to lose the track and a lot of time. But if you are too aggressive, you are going to crash. You have to find the right middle range.

“For sure we will be more aggressive in the first hour than if we started P10. That’s clear.

“But also it’s not nothing to lose, all-in. This you do in the last three hours, but not at the beginning. It would be an issue to have an issue at the start.

“We have to get to the front and we have to push, but we don’t need to do it to any risk because otherwise it’s not going to work.”

Estre is well-acquainted with making up ground in the early stages of the N24.

Last year he charged from 11th on the grid to first in the opening stint, although he conceded that Manthey’s tire choice in damp conditions aided his ability to progress.

Estre believes that Manthey would also benefit from some adverse weather conditions in this weekend’s race, as it looks to make up ground.

With no safety or wave-by procedures that are found to varying degrees in other major endurance races, the Nürburgring 24 puts an emphasis on pure pace with the added variable of Code 60 and 120 slow periods that can cause gaps to rise and fall.

“If we had a fully dry race last year, maybe I would have been P5 or P6 if it went really well,” he said.

“I think the conditions could help us here. The weather at the Nürburgring is always uncertain. It doesn’t look too bad for the start but could be worse later in the race.

“If the full race is dry or not special on the tires, it is going to be very hard to come back at the top.

“One problem I will face is that I will have to pass GT2 and Cup cars which are quicker than us on the straight. It’s tough.”

Penalty Call Feels “Harsh” in Circumstances

Estre accepted responsibility for the Manthey Porsche’s penalty but felt that the call was a harsh one given how events unfolded.

“The first thing is that we have to accept the decision,” he said.

“It is good that these rules are there because of marshal safety, and it’s good that they are hard on it. Just in this situation, it was far away from being intentional.

“I saw the yellow, braked and slowed down more than I should have.

“Just when I went on power, the limiter was not working because I was in the wrong gear. So I accelerated too much. When I saw it, I braked straight away.

“When you don’t see a flag and come in too late, it’s one situation. When you slow down enough and reach the limiter, it’s another story.”

Adding to the challenge this weekend, Manthey is arriving into the N24 without the benefit of having taken part in the Qualifier races earlier this month, due to its clashing commitments in the FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa.

“We would have loved to come here and race and get more track time because it is such a difficult race and you have to get a rhythm with all the overtaking and so on,” Christensen told Sportscar365.

“We would have liked to have that experience and more preparation.

“So this is of course not what we would have liked to have, but it is like this and we have a lot of experienced guys with us. So hopefully it is OK.”

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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