Up-and-coming Dubai-based race team, GPX Racing, has won the world-famous 24 Hours of Spa.
2019 saw the 71st edition of the legendary endurance motor race which will go down in history for having the most challenging race conditions to date. The young team from the Middle East, supported by Porsche, competed in the world-famous race with a squad of three of its best works drivers who are all world title winners.
Managed by Pierre-Brice Mena, the Dubai-based motorsport team was not considered a hot favourite for victory, but proved its doubters wrong as it raced home to claim overall victory as the United Arab Emirates national anthem rang out around the race circuit.
With only a few months’ experience in the Blancpain GT Series and with the 911 GT3 R to take on the fight to match the benchmark set by competitor teams in the championship, racing drivers – Michael Christensen, Kévin Estre and Richard Lietz – fought at the front of the field from start to finish and gave the Porsche its first victory in the Ardennes classic since 2010.
GPX Racing laid down a marker right from the practice session of the world’s biggest endurance race for Grand Touring cars. The combined efforts of its three drivers put the #20 Porsche among the top 20 cars – out of 72 entries – into the Superpole shoot-out. Driver, Estre, clinched 11th place on the grid and then set the fastest time in night practice, which gave the team a huge motivational boost.
As the rain began to batter the race circuit Kévin immediately began to carve his way up to the front of the pack. The French driver picked off his rivals one by one and finished his first stint in the lead! The #20 machine continued to battle it out with the other top teams, but the squad was handed a penalty during a pit stop. Luckily, it managed to pull back the time lost, in particular by taking advantage of a neutralisation to carry out the obligatory 5-minute technical stop.
In the early morning the race was interrupted by a red flag due to torrential rain. When battle resumed for the last five hours of the race, GPX Racing was well placed to take part in the final sprint to the chequered flag without any mistakes. The drivers’ speed, motivation to bring home victory to the UAE, and the pertinence of the strategic decisions paid off and at 16:30 the Porsche – adorned in the famous Gulf Motorsport colours – crossed the finishing line to win the race.
Pierre-Brice Mena, Team Principal for GPX Racing said: “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. A month ago we didn’t even know if we would be competing in this race. When we turned up at the 24 Hours of Spa with such a strong driver line-up we knew we could do a good job – but there were so many parameters. We made a great start to the race and then we had a drive-through. Above all, we had to avoid falling a lap behind. We fought our way back among the few teams capable of winning in the final hours. When you have such an opportunity to go for victory you have to grasp it with both hands and not be content with second place. We were never able to relax with the traffic and the battle right to the end with the other victory contenders and the incredibly challenging track conditions. But we finished with not one technical issue. A big thanks to Porsche, to the team and to all our partners for this extraordinary moment.”