Porsche's Estre "can't remember such a close" GTE Pro fight

Kevin Estre says he “can’t remember such a close fight” in the GTE Pro class category as the one that ensued between Porsche and Ferrari on the FIA World Endurance Championship’s first visit to Monza.

Porsche's Estre "can't remember such a close" GTE Pro fight

Estre and Neel Jani scored their second win of the 2021 season in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19, defeating Ferrari in front of its home crowd as the #51 488 GTE Evo of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi finished second.

Although Porsche took the chequered flag with a winning margin of over 30 seconds, that didn’t reflect how closely matched the two manufacturers were in Italy, with the race ebbing and flowing between Porsche and Ferrari as three full-course yellows and a safety car period shook up the order.

Estre and Pier Guidi traded places during the opening two stints, before Porsche surged clear of the Ferrari as they swapped their drivers for the first time.

The race started coming back towards the Italian marque after the mid-race safety car period, with Calado barging past Jani at the exit of the first chicane - with the Swiss driver running wide over the kerbs and also losing a place to the sister #91 Porsche.

A faster pitstop propelled the #92 car back into the lead, but Estre was chased hard by Pier Guidi in the final hour, the gap between the two cars remaining under a second for the duration.

Ultimately, Ferrari was forced to bring in Pier Guidi with five minutes to run for a splash-and-dash, giving Estre some breathing space after a fierce battle for much of the six-hour race.

The result elevated Estre and Jani to the top of the GTE Pro drivers’ standings, two points clear of Ferrari duo Pier Guidi and Calado.

Speaking after his eighth career win in the category, Estre felt Porsche was made to work hard to clinch an unlikely win at Monza, even if it was fighting only a single manufacturer following Aston Martin’s withdrawal from the series over the winter.

“Pole position is always good but at the end of the day you have a six hour race and that’s the one you want to win,” said Estre, who has been a permanent member of Porsche's GT efforts in WEC since 2017.

“But to be honest even if we had pole position we were the challenger there because Ferrari was a little better than us the whole weekend until that point. 

“But I think we took it perfectly, we did the perfect race in the pitstop, in the strategy, in the car, no mistakes on pitstops or strategy, that’s how we won. 

“Very, very pleased with that one because it was a very very tough one. I can’t remember the last four years having such a tight fight  the whole race in GTE Pro. [It] doesn’t matter how many cars you have if you win with that small margin, this feeling is always a great feeling.”

Jani said he was fearing the fight between Ferrari and Porsche would go down the last lap, having not expected the Italian manufacturer to make a late pitstop for fuel.

“That was a big relief," he said of Ferrari's late stop. "We didn’t know he had to take a pitstop, it didn't look like it and he was very quick at the end and pushing hard, so it was kind of nail biting there. 

“But what a great race, six hours of straight out qualifying laps. I hadn’t had such a tight race for such a long time in the WEC.”

Read Also:

Porsche endured a forgettable Le Mans last year on the debut of its latest-generation 911 model, with the two factory cars finishing a distant fifth and sixth in class - behind some GTE Am runners.

However, Estre is hopeful of a better showing from the German manufacturer in this year’s rescheduled event in August, as it takes on Ferrari and the returning Corvette in a three-way fight for GTE Pro honours.

“We had a tough Le Mans last year, the first time with the [new] car," he said. "This year we have a bit more experience, FIA and ACO also have a bit more experience with our car, so hopefully everything goes good together, that we have good performance, that we can fight against Ferrari, the other Porsches and Corvette.”

Watch all World Endurance Championship races live on Motorsport.tvJoin today.

shares
comments

Related video

Monza WEC: Toyota survives major scare to beat Alpine
Previous article

Monza WEC: Toyota survives major scare to beat Alpine

Next article

Ilott secures Iron Lynx Le Mans 24 Hours drive

Ilott secures Iron Lynx Le Mans 24 Hours drive
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Prime

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive FIA World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Motorsport.com recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Prime

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Prime

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out.

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021