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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Estre: Technical Stop ‘Gamble’ Moved GPX Back into Contention

Kevin Estre: quick strategy reaction brought GPX Racing back into contention…

Photo: Porsche

A quick decision to make its mandatory five-minute technical stop moved GPX Racing back into contention for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, according to Kevin Estre.

Estre combined with Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen to take the No. 20 Porsche 911 GT3 R to victory despite not featuring at the top of the timing screens as regularly as many of their rivals.

A drive-through penalty for having too many mechanics on pit lane early on dropped the Emirati team’s car back following a rapid opening stint from Estre.

“I think it was just after the five-minute mandatory pit stop because we gambled a little bit,” Estre told Sportscar365 when asked at what point he realized they were back in the hunt for the win.

“I saw a big crash in Blanchimont and it was two laps into my stint. I said: ‘Pit, pit, pit!’

“We pitted, I crossed the pit entry line, and within ten seconds it went Full Course Yellow. This put us back right there.

“Then it was tremendous rain and then red flag, then we were back in contention. We were on the same strategy as the other guys in front and the same lap, plus we had done the pit stop.

“That was the key to coming back and fighting for the victory.”

The recently crowned FIA GT World Drivers’ Champion described Spa as a mentally challenging race, especially when considering the size of this year’s unusually large grid.

“Spa is very challenging: [72] cars on track in the same category, it’s really challenging,” he said. “And then the conditions. It’s for sure one of the hardest or maybe the hardest race mentally.

“Not so physically, because to be honest Porsche did a mega job on the cockpit and I feel quite fresh compared to the old car.

“It’s a big difference. Mentally it was a tough one.”

“Hard to Pick” Standout Moment of Hectic Race

A combination of treacherous conditions and GPX’s underdog status running factory drivers for the first time are amongst Estre’s standout moments of the race.

“For sure, my first stint was good,” he said. “That was mega. We had, not a perfect qualifying, but we were good.

“We had the pace in the first stint to come to the front on the wet and then on the dry.

“Then for sure I will remember before the red flag because it was really, really hard, dangerous, and tough not to make a mistake. And a bit of luck, a lot of luck to be honest!

“And maybe the second to last stint when I took the car on slicks on damp conditions and trying to pass both cars for the lead, which I achieved.

“So maybe that’s three moments of this race, but there are plenty of moments which I probably forgot and will remember next week.”

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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