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Puncture Problems Created “Tough Work” for Porsche Teams

Tire dramas contribute to challenging N24 debut for new Porsche 911 GT3 R…

Photo: Porsche

Left-rear punctures for multiple Porsche 911 GT3 Rs at the Nürburgring 24 created “tough work” for the German manufacturer’s teams, according to its GT3 car project manager Sebastian Golz.

The best Porsche from Rutronik Racing finished fifth, however other entries encountered left-rear tire issues including the Manthey EMA machine which lost ground when a sudden failure caused Kevin Estre to spin into the Hohenrain tire barriers two hours in.

Golz put the number of puncture-affected cars at four, split between Michelin teams Manthey EMA and Huber Motorsport, and the two-car effort from Falken Motorsports.

He said that those episodes, combined with an early accident for the Lionspeed by Car Collection car of Matt Campbell, laid the foundations for what turned out to be a challenging maiden N24 for Porsche’s new Type-992 model.

“The influence of the whole race happened in the beginning,” Golz told Sportscar365.

“Two cars crashed, so the pressure increased for everybody because you have seen a tire failure on the Grello. Matt Campbell lost the [Lionspeed] car, overtaking on the outside. First two cars out.

“And then, some tire failures went up and the whole rhythm was destroyed. This was tough work together with the teams. They tried to keep calm.

“With all these accidents and incidents, we lost five cars which is quite a lot. Falken and Rutronik tried really hard. Falken also had tire failures and for them it was really tough.

“The only team that was close to having zero failures was Rutronik. They managed quite well and P5 is a good result.

“It’s not what we’re aiming for, but in the circumstances, we got the best out of the situation.”

It was a disruptive weekend for the teams running the new Porsche, which was the best-represented vehicle in the SP9 class with seven examples.

A Balance of Performance adjustment on Thursday evening gave the car 20 kg more weight, along with increases in rear wing angle, rake and air restrictor diameter.

After punctures for several teams in the Friday afternoon practice session, the BoP change was partially reversed on race day morning with 15 kg being put back on and the rear wing parameters being brought into a middle ground.

Nonetheless, tire dramas still affected some Porsche teams and Manthey EMA cited that as part of the reason for retiring its No. 911 car after 62 laps.

When asked about what those troubles were, Golz said that Porsche “need to investigate” the matter further and that an immediate diagnosis wasn’t available.

“We can’t give an answer right now, but we will manage,” he said.

“We didn’t understand why [the Manthey] car was more sensitive compared to the Rutronik car, for example. To avoid any bigger problems, they decided to stop the car.

“It is something with the tires in combination with the car which makes life quite hard. It’s always the rear-left. But we cannot say it was [a specific] part of the track where it happened.”

After finishing fifth alongside Matteo Cairoli and Julien Andlauer, Rutronik driver Olsen told Sportscar365 that the German team was taking steps to avoid the punctures that had affected other Porsches.

“Definitely we had to take some precautions in terms of setup and also tire pressures, to be careful to not blow the tires,” he said.

“We had a bit higher tire pressure and we had to lower the camber. So definitely this also takes away performance. Already in qualifying we were running higher just to try.

“But still we were not competitive compared to the other guys.”

Other Manufacturers Also Had Tire Trouble

Porsche wasn’t the only manufacturer to have problems with left-rear punctures in the race, with Audi outfit Scherer PHX and Lamborghini team ABT Sportsline also encountering issues.

Scherer PHX team principal Ernst Moser said that the Michelin-shod No. 5 and No. 16 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs both had early punctures on the same left-rear tire.

It is understood that ABT Sportsline’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 had two more punctures beyond the initial one that sent it tumbling from the top six in the second hour.

When asked what could have caused the Audi punctures, Moser told Sportscar365: “We don’t know because before we don’t have the problems in practice or in NLS and the quali race.

“Why do we have this now in the race? Nobody expected it. We have to look through the data before we say who is responsible.”

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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