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Fabulous time from Estre: Porsche the home favorite at WEC opener

Porsche leads in six of six sessions at the Losail International Circuit, the pace in the long run is right – now it’s time to get going: Stay on the ground

Six sessions in the prologue and the practice sessions on Thursday at the 1,812 kilometers of Qatar – things are looking great for Porsche. And in the right order, as the factory-entered Penske cars have had a firm grip on the action since the second day of the Prologue. Motorsport.com Global, spoke to several Porsche drivers

The mood there is excellent. “At the moment, it looks like we are stronger than ever,” says Kevin Estre, who set a fabulous time of 1:39.990 minutes in the 6 Porsche (Estre/Lotterer/L. Vanthoor) in the second practice session. “But there are many brands represented. We’ll have to wait for qualifying. It will be a small foretaste and the race is very long.”

“I think [the track] suits our car very well. It’s very flat and I think that suits our car,” he continues, but warns against euphoria. “We won’t be overconfident too early. The others can definitely keep up, I’m sure of that. If you look at us, that’s already an improvement compared to other circuits.”

Team-mate Lotterer answers the question of whether the WEC opener in Lusail is Porsche’s best chance of clinching its first victory in the World Endurance Championship (WEC): “That remains to be seen. But yes, on paper we look so good for the first time.”

“I think we’ve made good progress with the car and our set-up. The trend looks good for many Porsches. It should be a good race.”

Porsche already impressed with strong long runs in the prologue. Times in the 1:42 range are regularly possible for the LMDh car. But Ferrari also showed strong long runs in the free practice sessions. The Ferrari is considered tire-friendly, the Porsche was initially the exact opposite, but in the meantime the 963 has also become tame to the black gold.

“If you have a good balance and handle the tires well, there’s automatically a snowball effect,” says Michael Christensen from the 5 Porsche (Campbell/Christensen/Makowiecki). “If you’re good on the road, that helps you a lot towards the end of the stint. I hope we can do the same in the race.”

“If you have a good start, everything is fine. If you start the stint badly and damage the tires, it can be a very long stint. It’s always about managing and understanding the tires and the car. I think we had a decent week, a decent preparation. In free practice, the car felt like we expected it to. Hopefully we can build on that. “

He who has no graining is king

Frederic Makowiecki sees Porsche’s strong performance as a logical consequence of the hard work over the winter. “We are very satisfied with the development we have made in the team over the winter, with the way we are working. We are stronger than last year. In this respect, the winter was very productive for us,” he told Sportscar365.

“In motorsport, there are aspects that are out of our hands. We have to be proud of our work. In this respect, I am happy with the steps we have taken. We are here to win, not to finish P2 or P3. Of course, we have the feeling that we have never been so well prepared. Now we have to confirm that on the track.”

According to Makowiecki, the secret in Qatar is to avoid the notorious graining of the tires. This is due to the track characteristics with many long and few tight corners – in combination with the notorious Formula 1 asphalt

“I think it’s the only track where we have this layout and this surface where nobody really has tire wear,” he explains. “If you don’t have graining, you are the king. If you have graining, it’s a different story.”

“There are so many [long] corners on this track where the tire can’t rest. It’s difficult to build up the temperature as it should be. We worked hard to get the tire up to temperature.” This was also necessary, as it is extremely cool for the region this weekend, below 20 degrees at night.

“We seem to be in a good position, but I don’t want to get cocky. When you have a chance, you have to take it. You can’t make any mistakes. At the moment, our strength is to be focused and not exuberant. We have to maintain this philosophy right to the finish line.”

“It has happened before that things looked too brilliant and then you ruin the result for yourself by making a mistake. That must not happen,” warns “Fred Mako”. Victory would be a huge relief for the still winless WEC arm of Porsche Penske Motorsport, he assures

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