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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Estre: Spa Presents Chance for Porsche to “Save” its Year

Kevin Estre keen for Porsche to make up for previous 24-hour disappointments with Spa defense…

Photo: Jules Benichou/SRO

The Total 24 Hours of Spa presents a “huge chance” for Porsche to “save” what has been a challenging year results-wise in the major 24-hour races, according to Kevin Estre.

Porsche has not won a 24-hour GT3 or GTE race so far in 2020 but Estre, Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz head into Spa as the defending winners.

Their KCMG entry represents one of eight Porsche 911 GT3 Rs in the Pro category, signifying the largest presence from a single manufacturer.

Estre told Sportscar365 that Porsche is eager to source a victory from its final 24-hour major of the year after winless outings at Daytona, Le Mans and the Nürburgring.

Porsche’s factory GTE-Pro effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans crumbled due to issues on both cars, before positive COVID-19 tests within the team’s camp forced nine drivers including Estre, Christensen and Lietz to forgo their GT3 rides in the Nürburgring 24.

While Porsche brought in replacement factory drivers to patch up its N24 lineups, it struggled to compete against BMW and Audi at the front.

“We take this as a huge chance to save our year,” said Estre.

“This year has been tough for everybody, but for Porsche everything has been quite tough this year.

“We hope that we will get the performance here and get everything sorted for the race so we can fight for the win. We have high hopes for this race.

“In the GTE world, we’ve been strong in WEC. We came into Le Mans second in the championship and we’ve been on all the podiums so far this season except Bahrain.

“At Le Mans we missed performance and reliability, but we will learn. It was the first year with the car.

“Then the Nürburgring was very tough. There was a lot of compromise made with changing the lineups and canceling the [Manthey] Grello entry which made it very hard from the start.

“But sometimes that’s your year. We almost won the Nürburgring last year and we won the year before, so Porsche has been there, and it’s the same for Le Mans.

“Sometimes you have a year when it just doesn’t really work, so we hope to make up for the bad year so far here. Porsche won the last GT World Challenge Europe race at the Nürburgring, so I think we have good pace.”

Estre explained that there has been no personnel carry-over from last year’s Spa-winning GPX Porsche crew and this year’s No. 47 KCMG squad, bar the three drivers.

Former Nissan entrant KCMG is contesting Spa with Porsche for the first time, while GPX has doubled its involvement since last year to a pair of Pro cars.

“It’s a new team for us, but the same kind of challenge we had last year with GPX who were also new to this race,” said Estre.

“We know two mechanics and the Porsche engineer, but it’s not the same engineer as last year. In the team besides us three drivers, there’s nobody who is the same as last year.

“It’s all new faces, but KCMG has experience with Porsche. They did the Nürburgring 24 with the car and we know the engineer quite well since he’s been working with Porsche for a long time.

“I think we have a good package. This team has more experience than what GPX had at that time.

“They have done one GTWC race at the Nürburgring, but that’s it. The rest of their year has been on the Nordschleife so you can’t really judge from that.

“But they have really invested the time and money which is needed for this race. The team has prepared the car well.

“They brought all the changes we asked for after the test days, so we’re feeling good.”

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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