2018: a vintage year for Kévin Estre

Kévin Estre - 2018
Kévin Estre - 2018

Kévin Estre is a Porsche works driver in the grand touring category, at the summit of the endurance pyramid since 2016. This year, the man from Lyon scored what is the greatest victory in his career so far at the wheel of the 911 RSR in the emblematic Pink Pig livery. He went on to stand on the topmost step of the podium in LM GTE Pro at the Le Mans 24 Hours with Laurens Vanthoor and his regular teammate Michael Christensen. The French-Danish pairing have finished in the top 3 in the first five rounds of the world endurance championship (FIA WEC) and have built up a good lead in the provisional classification.

Less than a month ago Estre was 30 years old! He has now accumulated a great deal of experience in endurance, his favourite branch of motor racing, even though he is one of the youngest drivers in LM GTE Pro. “It’s true. There are only works cars in the category in the FIA WEC and all the drivers are seasoned professionals. Some are world champions in touring or GT cars, others have won the DTM, the Indy 500, the ELMS, the Spa 24 Hours and other great classics. And I’m not even speaking about the Le Mans 24 Hours in which the field was even richer. It’s a real honour to be a part of it!”
So it’s time to have a look back at the 2018 season even if there are still three races to come in 2019, Sebring, Spa, and Le Mans, to reach the end of the FIA WEC Super Season, which is spread out over more than a year! How come? The 2018 and 2019 Le Mans 24-Hour races count for the same world championship: it will remain a unique case in the annals. So those who don the crown will fully deserve it! At present, Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen have a 43-point lead. A victory is worth 25 points and the Sebring 1000 Miles and the Le Mans 24 Hours have a coefficient of 1.25 and 1.5 respectively.

As the winter break approaches Kévin feels confident in the perspective of this prestigious achievement: “I’ve undoubtedly just experienced the greatest year of my career from a sporting point of view. Personally, I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved so far and I hope that the momentum will continue until at least the finish of the next 24 Hours. The human side is predominant in endurance and I get on very well with my team-mate, Michael Christensen. It’s our second year together and we’ve the advantage of the same continuity with our engineer, Adam Hardy, and our mechanics. In 2017 there was already a great ambience; we’ve always remained tightly-knit even when things weren’t working out as we wanted. And what’s more, this year we’re winning so it’s all the better! It must be said that clinching victory in a race as demanding as the Le Mans 24 Hours creates even stronger links. We’ve clearly got the potential to win the championship.”

The technical side counts too: “We’ve got a lot of experience with the car, which we’ve now been running for two years. We’re stronger in every area. For example, we made the right tyre choice during the winter tests and since then we’ve had tyres that work on all the circuits; that wasn’t the case in 2017.”
In terms of highlights Le Mans obviously stands out as the drivers in the #92 Porsche took the lead in the fourth hour and were never headed. But their victory at the foot of Mount Fuji is also one of Kévin’s best memories: “We weren’t the quickest, but we still came out on top as we made the right choices. It was a perfect race.” The Frenchman also enjoyed an exceptional experience in July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. “It was a really fantastic meeting with an incredible number of vehicles of all shapes and sizes. No enthusiast can miss it. We brought along the Pink Pig in the state in which it had won the Le Mans 24 Hours covered with a coat of varnish to preserve the grease, dust and rubber stains on its bodywork!”


But he also had a few disappointments during the season that’s just ended. “I took part in the ADAC GT Masters with Timo Bernhardt. We didn’t get up to speed until a bit late in the season and when we did Lady Luck didn’t smile on us. We were expecting much better. My main regret is the Nürburgring 24 Hours. After ten hours racing we were in the lead with three minutes in hand over our pursuers when Romain Dumas went off on an oil slick. He simply couldn’t do anything.” The fiawec.com site gives the countdown to the next round of the WEC, the 1000 Miles of Sebring - 110 Days, 0 Hrs, 45 Mins, 12 Secs…