LMGTE Pro, WEC Season 8: the story so far…
As the FIA WEC prepares for its final round – the 8 Hours of Bahrain – which is due to take place on 14 November, we take a look back at what’s happened in the LMGTE Pro category so far this season…
Rewinding back to Silverstone 2019, the Porsche GT Team got off to the best possible start as the No. 91 (Gimmi Bruni and Richard Lietz) and No. 92 (Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre) Porsche 911 RSR cars delivered a one-two at the WEC Season 8 curtain-raiser. Aston Martin claimed third position with the No. 97 car.
With Porsche on top of the leaderboard going into Fuji, it was the turn of Aston Martin Racing to take a double podium and claw back some valuable championship points. The No. 91 Porsche – the same car that won at Silverstone – finished runner-up seeing Bruni and Lietz lead the GTE Pro drivers’ standings going into round 3.
Round 3 in Shanghai saw plenty of action as Porsche were declared winners of the LMGTE Pro category after the No. 51 AF Corse 488 GTE Evo driven by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi was disqualified following post-race technical checks. However, the drama continued when Ferrari was eventually reinstated the win after the Italian team won their appeal. Porsche, therefore, finished second and third respectively.
Bahrain International Circuit was next in the calendar which saw non-stop race action between Aston Martin and Ferrari as both teams swapped positions on multiple occasions throughout the eight-hour race. Aston Martin was eventually crowned overall victors as the No. 95 car went on to take its second win of the year. The win in Bahrain catapulted Aston Martin to the top of the overall standings – nine points ahead of Porsche at the season’s half-way point.
Aston Martin Racing’s good fortune was to continue for round 5 when the WEC returned to the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, in February this year. Once again, the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR reigned supreme as the Dane Train of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen scooped up another win and left the USA with a 26-point lead in the LMGTE FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship.
Following a rejigged calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rescheduled race at Spa-Francorchamps in August saw the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR return to the top of the pile. Thiim and Sørensen finished second, with the sister No. 97 car taking the final podium spot. With just two races remaining, and thanks to Aston Martin’s double podium in Spa, it was now mathematically possible for Aston Martin to take the manufacturers’ title at Le Mans the following month…
And this is exactly what happened. A superb win from Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin and Harry Tincknell in addition to the No. 95’s third place finish meant the squad had secured enough points to take its first LMGTE FIA world Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship.
Now all eyes are on the 8 Hours of Bahrain where there will be a three-way title fight for the LMGTE FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship between the No. 95 and No. 97 crews, as well as the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari. Following three wins already this season, Sørensen and Thiim lead their team-mates Lynn and Martin by a slender 15 points. However, there is still a mathematical chance for Calado and Pier Guidi to steal the drivers’ trophy should either of the AMR entries falter – the duo are currently 26 points adrift of the lead.
Elsewhere, it is still possible for the No. 92 Porsche to finish runner-up in the GTE Drivers’ Championship should either the No. 97 Aston Martin or the No. 51 Ferrari encounter difficulties. Christensen and Estre in the Porsche 911 RSR currently have a total of 109 points, 18 points behind AF Corse Ferrari in third.
Let the battle commence!