In July 2019, the GPX Racing team on its maiden outing in the 24 Hours of Spa, and also with its first entry of a 100% professional driver lineup in GT3, snatched victory from under the noses of the very best that international grand touring racing had to offer! The drivers of the #20 911 GT3 R, Richard Lietz, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, had been specially delegated by the Porsche Motorsport factory. The Austrian, the Frenchman and the Dane will be back with GPX Racing for the 74th edition of the Ardennes classic determined to ensure that history repeats itself!
Since this ground-breaking success, GPX Racing has gone from strength to strength on the endurance scene. In 2020, the team won the Coppa Florio – 12 Hours of Sicily (24H Series) and then it filled the runner-up spot in the Endurance Cup in the GT World Challenge Europe. 2021 was a particularly fruitful year with a victory on home turf in the 24 Hours of Dubai followed by second place in the Asian Le Mans Series thanks to two victories in four races. Still in 2021, GPX Racing’s campaign in the GT World Challenge Europe was marked by a stunning win in the 1000 km race on the Paul Ricard circuit.
The three Porsche works drivers have all added to their laurels in the last few years. Richard Lietz has just won the GTE Pro category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen triumphed the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring last year and just missed out on their second FIA World Endurance Championship Drivers title in GT.
While it was pretty common to see the same team from Toyota, Audi, Porsche, Matra or Ferrari emerging victorious in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, no reformed identical crew has managed to win again in the 24 Hours of Spa since the debut of the grand touring era in 2001. So it adds an additional challenge to those already facing the three drivers who tell us what they feel about their return to GPX Racing.
Michael Christensen: “In 2019, it rained so much that we just had to try and keep the car in one piece. All three of us also did another race with GPX Racing, the 9 Hours of Kyalami, with heavy rain at the end and we finished on the podium after an intense effort. I think it’s a good thing to keep drivers together who get on well from a human point of view. Audi has shown the pertinence of this concept. I think it can give us an advantage over our rivals. I’m also delighted to be back with GPX Racing. I recall a pleasant ambience with a remarkable openness of mind and tip-top professionalism. When we arrived in the team we felt as if we were at home and we were on the pace immediately.”
Kevin Estre: “I have a very emotional memory of the 2019 edition just two hours from the finish when I went to see Frédéric Fatien, the team owner, to ask him if we should just ensure a podium or go all out for victory. I admit that I was a bit nervous waiting for his answer and he said to me, ‘go for it, we’re here to win!’ I adore the GPX Racing team, it’s a group of real motor sport enthusiasts. We arrived a bit like three gate crashers at Spa who turned out to be just what the party needed! It was their debut at this level and we didn’t really know what to expect. But we were very pleasantly surprised right from the start of practice and we saw that the team was very pro-active. They listened to us; the package was right; we really enjoyed racing in this ambience and we won! The 24 Hours of Spa will be a huge challenge arriving from the RSR GTE. We have only done the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring with the GT3 this year with completely different sporting rules and tyres. But I think we have the experience to overcome all that. We were super happy when Porsche told us we were going to race again at Spa with GPX Racing. We’re all pumped up!”
Richard Lietz : “To be quite honest, the 24 Hours of Spa was pure pleasure! Right from the first day we felt really welcome at GPX Racing. These people have a real motor racing culture. On arriving we didn’t know if we had a chance of winning, but little by little we seriously began to believe it was possible. The car’s balance was good, the staff knew what they were doing and against all expectations we won this great race. The decisive moment was undoubtedly when Kevin understood that an accident had taken place and that the race was going to be neutralised. He came in for the obligatory technical stop in full course yellow conditions. I particularly like our Porsche’s new Martini Racing livery (which will be unveiled soon, Ed.) as I’m a rally fan and these mythic colours have been carried by numerous iconic cars.”
Pierre-Brice Mena, GP Extreme managing director, says how satisfied he is to see the 2019 trio teaming up again. “They remind us of some very good memories! We’ve got the ambition and the will to go for the win as always, but we have to remain humble when faced with all the traps of this race and the quality of our rivals. We’re going to tackle these 24 Hours as we did in 2019 by doing a great deal of preparation. We’re starting with the same technical team as last year that helped us to fight at the front before our technical glitches struck. This season, it’s been a long wait for GPX Racing. We were unable to take part in the 12 Hours of Bathurst in the context of the IGTC because of the change of date and philosophy of the event. We’ve also devoted a lot of energy towards other activities of the GP Extreme group, but the sporting side is still as important for us as ever.”
The Test Days for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa will take place on 21 – 22 June before the week of the race proper that kicks off with the parade on the road that goes from Francorchamps to the centre of the town of Spa on Wednesday 27th July. Then follow the various practice sessions on Thursday and Friday before the start of the 24 Hours on Saturday 30th July at 16:45.
Source. Romane Didier / future racing
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