The weekend saw Gulf Racing travel to the second race of the 2016 World Endurance Championship at Spa Francorchamps after a full rebuild of their Porsche 991 RSR GTE post Silverstone incident.
The typically unpredictable weather that is common for the legendary Belgium circuit dispersed shortly after the team arrived to setup and on Thursday a clear blue sky and baking sun greeted them for practice.
Initial pace from the Porsche RSR looked encouraging with all drivers taking the wheel for their first outings since Silverstone. Posting competitive times the team worked hard to tune the setup and find the correct balance to be ready for qualifying the following day.
Friday practice was encouraging with a more balanced car and a good feeling that the team had a chance at a solid performance despite the obvious pace of the other marques.
Come qualifying it was clear that the ultimate pace of the Porsche was lacking in comparison to the Aston, Ferrari and Corvette, with all the Porsche GTE cars struggling to match the laptimes of their rivals.
Race day came and the team had high hopes that reliability and solid pit work could help offset the clear differential in performance, initially the Porsches all lost some ground to the quicker cars, but with solid driver stints and rapid pitstops the team stayed in contention until the second part of the race. It was in the latter stages where a drive through penalty for track limits and an unscheduled pit stop for a faulty rear light that lost the team a lap and ultimately the possibility of a top 3 finish, the car ending up crossing the line in 5th place at the end of the 6 hours.
Team Manager Matt Beers: - ‘It was a tough weekend, because from the outset it was apparent we were lacking a little pace vs our competition. The team did a great job and we got what we could from the package, the issue we had was minor but cost us enough time to make a difference. We learned a lot from the weekend and it’s great to complete the race and collect some valuable points ahead of Le Mans.’