MEDIA RELEASE/Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific – Photos: supplied
Hong Kong squad KCMG showed rapid speed in their two Porsche 911 GT3 R at the 2020 Nürburgring 24 Hours, but both cars were unfortunate in their pursuit of the podium in the world’s most unforgiving endurance race.
Despite a late change to the line-up of the #18 car, factory driver Earl Bamber and Porsche ambassadors Timo Bernhard and Jörg Bergmeister settled into the team quickly and immediately showed strong pace alongside Dennis Olsen.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge champion demonstrated the car’s speed with the second fastest lap in a wet Top Qualifying 1, but was unable to set a time in the subsequent session due to a technical issue and lined up 17th for the 48th running of the Nordschleife enduro. Alexandre Imperatori was ninth quickest in TQ1 in the sister #19, putting him 22nd on the grid.
The rain persisted for the beginning of the race. Bamber and Olsen, who was on double duty in both cars, took the start and led the charge through the field, both making it into the top 10 before the first round of stops. The Norwegian continued to make progress as Bernhard took over in the #18. A strong stint from Bergmeister consolidated their top 10 position, with Imperatori and Josh Burdon doing the same in the sister car.
As the night fell, the conditions worsened until the race was red-flagged at the seven-hour mark and was not resumed until the morning after a nine-and-a-half-hour delay. Olsen took the restart from seventh in the #18 while Imperatori was ninth in the #19, but he was spun round shortly after the green flag fell. Edoardo Liberati took over and set a good pace, however contact with a slower car put them out of contention.
Meanwhile, Olsen led a second charge, passing four competitors in the opening hour and emerging in second. Bergmeister was running sixth, after a change in weather conditions went against the team’s strategy, when he suffered a left-rear puncture having made contact with another driver. Despite a speedy turnaround to repair the car in just 17 minutes, when Bernhard took over he was 15th and eventually crossed the line in 13th.
Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific and KCMG will once again team up for a factory-supported assault on the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa on 22-25 October.
Earl Bamber, #18 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “It was a really tough race but KCMG did a great job throughout. We were on for a top five finish, probably even better, but we were unlucky with some late contact which put us two laps back. We still managed to finish the race with one car and definitely showed a lot of potential and speed. I definitely think we can return to fight for the overall victory, so thanks to the team and we’ll come back stronger.”
Timo Bernhard, #18 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “I enjoyed working with KCMG a lot this weekend. The conditions were really difficult so survival was critical, especially as three of us were just jumping in the car with minimal preparation. All the best to the team for the future.”
Jörg Bergmeister, #18 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “Big thanks to everyone at KCMG for welcoming us, it was an absolute pleasure driving for them and it made this extremely challenging event much easier. Unfortunately the outcome was not what we expected, but that’s racing at the Nordschleife. Best of luck to the team in their future endeavours.”
Dennis Olsen, #18 & #19 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “Tough weekend for us but the crew worked really hard throughout the weekend to get the most out of it. We did a good job to get through to Top Qualifying 2, but unfortunately we had a technical issue on the car and could not do a proper lap. At the start we moved up quite a few positions, but at the end of the day it was a challenging race in very tricky conditions with a red flag during the night. It was a positive restart in the #18, getting up to P2 but we were on the wrong tyre at one point and lost some time and struggled to come back. Then unfortunately we had contact with another car from a lower category and lost a lot of time there. Not the result we hoped for, but for sure we showed speed and the team did a great job. Hopefully we can return with a bit more luck and fight for the podium or even a win.”
Alexandre Imperatori, #19 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “Obviously I’m very disappointed. We wanted to get to the finish with a good result for the team. We had a fast car for the mixed conditions, but we got spun round on the restart after the red flag. Then as we were fighting to get back in contention, Edo got a hit and went into the wall. But we showed the car was competitive and we will be stronger next time. Thanks to the whole team for their efforts this weekend.”
Edoardo Liberati, #19 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We were in the game for a top six finish all race long, despite the challenge of mixed and changing conditions. Unfortunately, with four hours to go a slow car didn’t see me, we collided and it sent me into the wall. We showed great strength and potential in our first Nürburgring 24 Hours with Porsche and we can take away many positives from this weekend, so thanks to KCMG for all their hard work this weekend, I’m extremely proud of everyone in the team.”
Josh Burdon, #19 Porsche 911 GT3 R: “It’s been a challenging Nürburgring 24 Hours. Crazy conditions with heavy rain and fog during the night made it very difficult, but everyone in the team did a fantastic job and we comfortably fought inside the top 10. It was disappointing to end our race early when Edo was hit by a slow car. Nevertheless, my thanks to everyone at KCMG and my team-mates who have been great this weekend. I’m hungry to try again next year.”
Paul Ip, KCMG founder: “To make the finish of this crazy race is an achievement in itself, especially when you consider the weather conditions and the late change in our driver line-up. All things considered this is a performance we can be proud of. Naturally, we hoped for a better result but there are many positives to take away. The team performed well and we were in contention for a podium. So we will take what we have learnt to our next 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps and be stronger.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific: “This may not have been the result we were hoping for, but there is a lot to take away from this weekend. Firstly, the team performed spectacularly with the late change in the line-up of the #18 car, and the drivers were fantastic with minimal preparation going into what is already one of the world’s toughest races. For KCMG to come into the backyard of several teams who are based at the Nürburgring and compete with them is a remarkable effort. We haven’t seen the full potential just yet, but this is only the first year of our partnership and I’m sure that we will see huge successes down the line.”
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