Proton Competition officially entered the elite class of the FIA World Endurance Championship in front of 65,000 spectators in the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Despite only receiving their Porsche 963 on Wednesday of race week and not covering a single test kilometer with its new hypercar, the team made a great showing against the factory competition from Cadillac, Ferrari, Peugeot, Porsche and Toyota.
Coming into the weekend with low expectations, the German team was pleasantly surprised to see Harry Ticknell (Great Britian) qualify the car in 12th place, only 1.4 seconds behind the pole sitting Toyota and just 0.7 seconds behind the quickest Porsche.
On Sunday, Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) piloted the first kilometers of his home race. After a consistent two-stint performance, he handed over to Neel Jani (Switzerland) who even took the lead halfway through the distance.
Unfortunately, Tincknell was not able to finish off the class newcomer’s impressive debut with a top result, as less than two hours before the finish, he had to park the Porsche 963 due to a technical defect that has not yet been analyzed.
Post Race Quotes:
Michael Ried, team owner and technical director of Proton Competition: “That was a very dramatic but also very emotional race for us. We experienced a high point in the middle of the race when both our new Porsche 963 and our Porsche 911 RSR were in the lead. The team works for moments like this. It’s a shame that the strong debut of our Porsche 963 wasn’t rewarded in the end. Now we attack again in Fuji.”
Christian Ried, team owner Proton Competition (Porsche 911 RSR #77): It’s a shame that our Porsche 963 couldn’t finish the race. Considering that we couldn’t complete a single test kilometer with the new car, that was a strong performance. The time pressure in the days before Monza was enormous. In order for us to be able to start with the 963 at all, many in the team and with our partners have pushed their limits. Thank you very much.”
Gian Maria Bruni (Porsche 963 #99):“It was a very emotional moment for me to cover the first few kilometers of racing in our new Porsche 963 in front of this great backdrop in Monza. We had good speed and could have caused a surprise. Unfortunately, the technology threw a spanner in the works.”
Neel Jani (Porsche 963 #99):“It was a strong performance by the entire team. We can build on that for the following races. We should be even stronger in Fuji. Being in the lead in my first race with the Porsche 963 was a great feeling.”
Harry Tincknell (Porsche 963 #99):“In Monza we wanted to gather as much experience as possible with our new car. It’s a shame that my stint was very short. But in the first hours of racing, our expectations were far exceeded. That gives us motivation and confidence.”