After the successful season-opener at Bathurst, Australia, and the one-two victory at the world’s most important GT3 race in Spa, Belgium, Porsche is again aiming for a top result at the ten-hour race in Suzuka (Japan). The two Porsche teams, Earl Bamber Motorsport and Absolute Racing, each field a 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Pro category. Three Porsche works drivers and three Porsche Young Professionals will share driving duties in the two vehicles on 25 August. Thirty-six vehicles are entered for round four of the Intercontinental GT Challenge on the 5.807-kilometre Suzuka Circuit.
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The ten-hour race in Japan marks the fourth of five rounds of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge. The Suzuka Circuit, with its many twists and turns, including slow, semi-fast and flat-out corners, has a reputation as one of the world’s most demanding racetracks for drivers. Moreover, it is one of the very few tracks to feature a figure-eight layout with an overpass.
The Porsche teams and drivers
Earl Bamber Motorsport (EBM) fields a Porsche 911 GT3 R with the starting number 911, with the French Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet as well as works drivers Sven Müller (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) sharing the cockpit. At the wheel of the No. 912 Porsche 911 GT3 R run by Absolute Racing is the winning trio from Bathurst: Porsche works driver Dirk Werner (Germany) and the Porsche Young Professionals Matt Campbell (Australia) and Dennis Olsen (Norway). The customer squad LM corsa also fields a latest generation Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Pro-Am category, with the No. 60 car shared by three Japanese local heroes. AMAC Motorsport contests the silver class with a GT3 vehicle from Weissach in last year’s spec. Three Australian amateur racers share the No. 51 car.
Comments before the race
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “We still have a score to settle at the IGTC race in Suzuka. This year our teams Absolute Racing and Earl Bamber Motorsport will compete with the new 911 GT3 R. Last year’s high temperatures put drivers under extreme stress. That will be a thing of the past thanks to the active driver cooling system, which ensures a constant driving performance. The 5.807-kilometre-long circuit is one of the most technically demanding racetracks on the IGTC calendar. High-speed passages combined with sudden changes of direction require a direct and stable vehicle platform. We’re confident that our overall package is strong and we’ll fight for the podium and more championship points.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We managed to achieve great results with our local teams at the first three races of the series. We won the Bathurst and Spa races, and we climbed the podium at Laguna Seca. In 2018, the race in Japan wasn’t our best, but our teams and drivers are very well prepared and will hopefully be amongst the frontrunners. We’re particularly looking forward to the Japanese fans. They always come to the track in droves and they give the event a fantastic atmosphere.”
Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “For me personally, Suzuka is one of the best racetracks in the world. With Earl Bamber Motorsport we have good chances to earn critical points and to stay in the fight for the championship. My teammates Sven Müller and Mathieu Jaminet are as motivated as I am and we’ll do our very best to bring home a good result.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “Suzuka is one of my favourites on the IGTC calendar. I spent two years contesting the Super GT Japan and I got to know a lot of people, and also the country is really cool. The people are open and the fans are really supportive. The racetrack is interesting: it has many fast corners and the asphalt offers a lot of grip. We did well at Bathurst with Earl Bamber Motorsport, but unfortunately we didn’t finish. Now we’re ready to fight again and we aim to be successful.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “Suzuka will be an exciting race for everyone, as several teams are still in the fight for the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship. And like last year, we’re again expecting very high temperatures. We should be even more competitive with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R and in a position to fight for a top spot.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “I’m looking forward to the IGTC race at Suzuka. It’s a fantastic track and the fans there are super enthusiastic. We’re currently looking good in the fight for the championship and we can definitely go for a podium result with our Absolute Racing squad.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “The high temperatures in Suzuka are usually as challenging as the track itself. It’s the first time here for Matt and me. We’ll learn a lot about the track during the practice sessions and work intensively on the setup with our Absolute Racing team.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “Suzuka is another new racetrack for me, which is exciting. It’s also my first event with Absolute Racing and, of course, I’m hoping that the race is a success and we achieve a good result. I’ve competed in Japan before with the FIA WEC. It’ll be great to go back. I love racing in Japan.”
This is the Intercontinental GT Challenge
The 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar is made up of five endurance races on five continents. While the teams were only permitted to field 2018-spec GT3 cars at the season-opening round in Bathurst (Australia), the latest spec is sanctioned for the Laguna Seca (USA), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Suzuka (Japan) races and the season finale in Kyalami (South Africa). Porsche will not compete with a factory squad, but instead supports various customer teams in their campaign.