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Autosport 2021 Top 50: #22 Kevin Estre

2nd in World Endurance Championship (GTE Pro); 1st in Nurburgring 24 Hours


The Frenchman was in superlative form for Porsche as he and new team-mate Neel Jani narrowly – and controversially – missed out on the GTE Pro WEC crown. They won half the races and might have won two more to put the title out of Ferrari’s reach.

Estre was the senior partner in the #92 car; prototype stalwart Jani was clever enough to cede that role to his team-mate. Estre was given the car for qualifying in all six races and delivered pole in five.

PLUS: Autosport's WEC season review

Yet Estre was much more than a one-lap wonder in 2021. His double-stint to turn the tide mid-race in the Bahrain curtain-closer was sublime.

Engineer’s View: Working hard at finding speed

Adam Hardy, race engineer #92 Porsche 911 RSR, on Estre the qualifier

“When Kevin and Michael [Christensen] came together at Porsche in the WEC back in 2017, Michael was the guy who could nail that quick lap in qualifying. He was generally the quicker of the two in the days when both drivers had to set a lap time under the old qualifying system.

“Kevin learned a lot from Michael over time. One thing you have to say about Kevin is that he’s a hard worker: he’s always delving deep into the data as he strives to get better. He has understood that he needs to hold a little back rather than going all out and losing a couple of tenths with a little mistake.

Engineer Hardy rates Estre highly

Engineer Hardy rates Estre highly

Photo by: Porsche

“Before he had to maybe drive at 90% to avoid mistakes, but now you could say he is at 99%. There’s been an evolution over time in his performance.

“There is a very clear peak on the current Michelins, so you’ve got to nail it on lap one. Kevin has become very good at getting the most out of the tyres on that first flier.

“We are very aggressive on #92 with our qualifying set-up to make sure the car has front-end grip. Michael led development of that set-up and Kevin has learned how to drive it. If you want to get the most out of the tyres, you need an oversteery car and there aren’t many drivers who can handle the RSR in the way Kevin can with that set-up. You can see some pretty wild things on his data – lots of oversteer and massive steering inputs.

“Kevin is clearly a driver at the top of his game right now. There’s no question that he is massively talented and can do it on one lap, but it has taken a lot of hard work from him and an evolution of how we approach qualifying to get to the point where we could do what we did in 2021. Michael definitely helped in that, and Kevin would be the first to admit it.”

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