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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

The "unorthodox" approach taken by Manthey in Le Mans LMGT3-winning strategy

The Manthey EMA Porsche team conquered the Le Mans 24 Hours last weekend, but its LMGT3 class victory involved some creative strategic thinking

"Unorthodox" strategic calls made by the Manthey EMA Porsche team proved crucial in setting up its Le Mans 24 Hours LMGT3 class victory, driver Yasser Shahin has explained.

The Australian's win in the double points round of the World Endurance Championship, together with team-mates Richard Lietz and Morris Schuring, puts his #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R into the joint lead of the pro-am category that replaced GTE Am for this year.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, bronze-graded racer Shahin explained that "there are a lot of things that were unconventional about Manthey's approach" that yielded victory by a lap over the #31 WRT BMW M4 on his first attempt at the French endurance classic.

After taking the race start, one of just four cars to deploy their bronzes from the outset, Shahin completed a double stint when the first of many showers that blighted the race prompted Manthey to insert 19-year-old silver driver Schuring, a fellow event rookie.

"It started to rain and we thought we really wanted an early advantage in mixed conditions, and so we put Morris in with fresh tyres and that paid off," Shahin explained.

"But it meant that I didn't do the planned triple stint and I only did a double. And then when I got in the car two hours later, we knew it was going to be a struggle to make up my [minimum six-hour driving] time.

"So three stints in, the engineer and I had a chat and he said 'Look, can you do a fourth?'

"So I did a quadruple stint, and that's not particularly orthodox on one set of tyres! I've never done a quad before."

#91 Manthey Ema Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3: Yasser Shahin, Morris Schuring, Richard Lietz

#91 Manthey Ema Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3: Yasser Shahin, Morris Schuring, Richard Lietz

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Shahin later returned to the car during the lengthy safety car during the early hours of Sunday morning and stayed in once his mandatory time had concluded to give Lietz and Schuring a longer break.

"Me staying in the car longer not only made them fresher," he pointed out.

"It meant that if we could defer my pit stop to as late as possible, to the track going green, whoever got in would have the freshest set of tyres."

Factory driver Lietz duly took over for the race restart and had just overtaken the sister #92 Manthey car Klaus Bachler, shared with Joel Sturm and Alexander Malykhin, before it was forced into a 24-minute pitstop to resolve gearbox problems.

Now a five-time Le Mans class winner since he too won on his event debut in 2007, Lietz acknowledged that Manthey's strategy had been significant in ensuring "we have done the race without any major wrong decisions", but revealed he was not always in agreement with the calls that were taken.

"I asked for several things and nothing happened," he told Motorsport.com. "But it's OK, we won, so forget about this!"

The delays for the #92 car, which was classified tenth of the regular WEC entrants at Le Mans, combined with a second maximum score in as many rounds has brought the #91 crew back into the title fight after taking no points from the first two races in Qatar and Imola due to mechanical problems and accident damage respectively.

Shahin admitted the turnaround in the team's fortunes had come as a surprise, as he "thought we had no chance" of contending for the championship after its early setbacks before winning last time out at Spa with Lietz's final lap pass on Bachler.

"We had a throttle body failure in race one, completely unlucky," he said.

"Race two was just a debacle, and genuinely, none of our fault; a 200 km/h race start, followed by people hitting the brakes after it went green.

"We threw away the first two, and so we had no prospect of being back in the championship.

"This has just reversed all that with two consecutive wins.

"Morris and Richie were just saying, 'Look, I can feel we're good enough, we just need some momentum'. And so it's been nice."

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