After the factory crew of the #47 Porsche 911 GT3 R demonstrated its speed on the Ardennes circuit by topping Night Practice, Kevin Estre put the car ninth on the grid in the top 20 Super Pole shootout, giving the Hong Kong squad a strong chance to battle at the head of the field for its second 24-hour race in four weeks.
Despite the threat of rain looming at the start of the race, Michael Christensen immediately began to make progress through the field as he picked off three cars during his opening stint before handing over to Richard Lietz. After running clean laps, Estre continued the charge and worked his way through the field, including a stunning and brave move at the bottom of the fearsome Eau Rouge corner, to take a place on the podium as the best-placed Porsche. Great work from the team in the pit stops elevated him to second as Christensen was back on board for a second stint.
The Dane mounted an attack for the lead, closing the gap until the car was given a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits, dropping them to 12th. However, the 2019 race-winning trio was able to pull itself back into podium contention, but the car was brought into the garage eight-and-a-half hours in with a left-front wheel issue. Despite the rapid efforts of the team to get on track again, five laps had passed and they were in 33rd.
Once again, the crew came back up the order, surviving a late downpour to finish 13th.
Unfortunately Alexandre Imperatori, Josh Burdon and Edoardo Liberati met issues early on, getting a puncture on only the third lap and receiving a drive-through penalty for contact. They crossed the line in 43rd after a hard-fought race.
Kevin Estre, #47 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “To be honest it was quite a disappointing race on our side. We were a bit lost at the beginning of the weekend, it was difficult to find the right set-up and the track conditions didn’t help as there was lots of rain. We didn’t really try the dry set-up before the start of the race but it was a good surprise, we went down the right path with the engineers. The car was good in all conditions so we fought our way to the front then unfortunately we had an issue on the front-left wheel hub. We lost five laps and in a race like this you can never fully recover from that. We tried to get to the end without any other major issues and the car was still great. We definitely had top-five potential or maybe a chance to fight for victory.”
Richard Lietz, #47 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “What a week! It’s amazing how much we achieved together over the past few days as a team. I’m so proud of how we prepared for this event and the spirit we had. There was some really good performance in our car but luck was not with us. It was a hard race in difficult weather so I’m very proud of what we did but the result doesn’t show the real performance. Hopefully we will get a chance to come back stronger.”
Michael Christensen, #47 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We moved a lot from our starting point on Thursday to where we were in the race. It was a really strong statement from KCMG who did a great job preparing as best they could with such a small amount of prep time. Of course, it’s a different story putting it all together but the guys were willing to adapt with us as new drivers, they did so very well and we came together to achieve a common goal. Everyone wanted a better result, especially looking at our performance, but this is motorsport and these things easily happen. Overall I’m happy with what we came out of this weekend with.”
Alexandre Imperatori, #21 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “A disappointing race after all the hard work and efforts of the team. We wanted to reward them but our car suffered from a drivetrain issue which the crew tried very hard to fix although we couldn’t solve it. Still, big thanks to KCMG and my team-mates for this season. It’s been challenging but it will make us stronger.”
Josh Burdon, #21 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We had a very strong build-up to the race but ultimately a disappointing result. We had the pace to fight at the front but we were constantly battling niggling issues. Big thanks to KCMG for their massive efforts during this tough season. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Edoardo Liberati, #21 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “It wasn’t the race we aimed for, we were a lap down after five minutes because of contact and other technical issues forced us to bring the car into the garage for several hours. It’s a shame because we showed strong pace, especially in the night stints. Thanks to KCMG for their mega efforts this season, we’ve had some great races in our first year with Porsche. We’ve also had some bad luck, but we’ll take the positives, analyse what went wrong and improve on every single detail.”
Paul Ip, Team Founder: “Of course we are disappointed with the result as there was a lot of promise for us going into the weekend. With Porsche’s support and the race-winning line-up from last year, we believed we had a great chance to finish well at Spa. For sure we have demonstrated the car was quick and capable, and had it gone our way a bit more we would have been in contention at the end. But this is how racing goes sometimes. We will learn from it and come back stronger. This marks the end of our GT programme for the season and our first with Porsche, who have offered us fantastic support this year and we look forward to racing together again in 2021.”
Press release KCMG, picture Jean-Luc Patars