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Lietz "had no idea" last-lap WEC Spa move was for LMGT3 victory

Manthey Porsche driver Richard Lietz admitted he did not realise his final-lap winning move in Saturday's disrupted World Endurance Championship race at Spa was for the LMGT3 class lead. 

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

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Lietz revealed that he at first "had no idea" about the significance of his pass on team-mate Klaus Bachler into Les Combes, which secured victory for the #91 Manthey EMA Porsche he shared with Yasser Shahin and Morris Schuring, as he had begun the final tour in third place.

Franck Perera's Iron Lynx Lamborghini was forced to pit for fuel with just one lap to go, but crossed the start-finish line to commence the final lap temporarily still in the lead. That handed Bachler the advantage, but he too was low on energy and put up little resistance as Lietz loomed in his mirrors.

Asked if he was aware of the situation unfolding around him, four-time Le Mans 24 Hours class-winner Lietz replied: "Honestly I had no idea."

Dutch 19-year-old Schuring had been just about to hand over to Lietz when the red flags were shown following a heavy accident involving Earl Bamber's Cadillac V-Series.R LMDh and the WRT BMW M4 GT3 of Sean Gelael, for which the former has been given a five-place grid penalty for the next WEC round at Le Mans. 

When the race eventually resumed with 1hr44m on the clock, Schuring was forced to pit immediately after the restart, which initially appeared to have scuppered their prospects as Lietz rejoined ninth and deep in the pack.

He reflected that the team thought "we were fighting for nothing", but showed strong pace over a stint after applying knowledge learned in a recent test at Interlagos to rise through the order.

As others running low on energy came into the pits in the closing minutes, Lietz advanced into podium contention but was "surprised" to find himself in the mix for victory.

"The engineer said ‘okay, you’re P5 now, maybe we are fighting for a podium’," he recounted. 

"And then suddenly it was like ‘okay, now this is the pass for the victory’ and I was like ‘okay, I didn’t get P3 or anything else’. 

"So from the driver point of view in the last stint I was surprised by the result.

"But I think that team-wise, and especially with these team-mates here, we deserved to be on the podium or fighting for the victory. 

"After the red flag taking the victory basically a second time in this race, I’m really happy."

Lietz revealed that he initially thought Bachler "had a tyre issue" due to the success ballast on the championship-leading #92 car co-driven by Alexander Malykhin and Joel Sturm as he rapidly closed on his fellow Austrian.

"I had no information from the team, it was not really clear what happened," he added. 

Bachler explained that he had little choice but to allow Lietz through due to his precarious energy situation.

Asked by Autosport if he'd have fought the issue harder if it had been anyone other than a team-mate, he replied: "I could decide to stop or to take the P2. 

"For sure if it wouldn’t be the sister car, I would try it. 

"But I think I would have no chance, because we ran out of energy."

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