Porsche Team Manthey has made a great start in the fight for the GT pole position at the Le Mans 24 hour race.
In the first qualifying session for the 82nd edition of the world’s toughest automobile race, contested on 14/15 June as round three of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC on the 13.629 kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR posted the third quickest time in the GTE-Pro class late on Wednesday evening. Sharing the cockpit of last year’s winning car are works drivers Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria). At the wheel of the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, factory pilots Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) set the fifth quickest time.
As the best Porsche customer team in the GTE-Am class, Dempsey Racing Proton concluded the qualifying on the third spot. Sharing the cockpit of the number 77 Porsche 911 RSR are Americans Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster with their compatriot and Porsche works driver Patrick Long.
Normally at the WEC races, two drivers must qualify a car, but in Le Mans only the fastest time of one driver determines the starting position for the race.
Quotes after the 1st qualifying
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “The first qualifying session was very much influenced by interruptions and its termination twenty minutes before the scheduled end. Under these circumstances, I’m satisfied with the lap times. Tomorrow we have two more chances to improve our positions. With this in mind, we will not neglect our preparations for the race.”
Joerg Bergmeister (#91): “I just went out and turned my mandatory laps. It was pretty chaotic out there with lots of interruptions. Let’s see how things go tomorrow.”
Patrick Pilet (#91): “The car wasn’t easy to drive, plus during my fastest lap I encountered a lot of traffic. Still, I’m feeling pretty good. We now have some work to do on the balance.”
Marco Holzer (#92): “It was really good to go out and drive at night again. Fred put in a great performance and planted the car on third. It’s important to set a good time in the first qualifying because you never know what tomorrow brings. Our priority though is to keep working on the car’s race setup.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (#92): “Driving on this track at night is never easy. In some spots you really have to take particular care. I think we have a good car. Our main objective today was to find a good setup for the race. Perhaps we can improve on our time tomorrow.”
Patrick Long (#77): “That qualifying was very eventful with a lot of interruptions. For us the main priority was that all drivers completed their mandatory five laps in the dark. Because of the interruptions, Patrick Dempsey didn’t manage that. But he won’t mind at all jumping back into the cockpit tomorrow night. We trialled a new tyre compound and we’re actually quite happy with how it went today.”
Patrick Dempsey (#77): “We’re the best-placed Porsche team in our class and we can be happy with this. Patrick did a great job. We’re very much benefiting from his experience. Unfortunately there were a lot of interruptions and I wasn’t able to complete my mandatory five laps. But we’ll make it up tomorrow. The most important thing was to keep out of trouble.”
Klaus Bachler (#88): “Because of the many caution phases I wasn’t able to post any decent times. We’ll have to get out there again tomorrow.”
Result Qualifying 1
1. Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella (I/SF/I), Ferrari 458 Italia, 3:54.754 minutes
2. Turner/Mücke/Senna (GB/D/BRA), Aston Martin Vantage, + 0.313 seconds
3. Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz (D/F/A), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.762
4. Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor (DK/E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, + 1.689
5. Bergmeister/Pilet/Tandy (D/F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.830
6. MacDowall/O’Young/Rees (GB/HK/BRA), Aston Martin Vantage, + 2.504
1. Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov (I/RUS/RUS), Ferrari 458 Italia, 3:56.787 minutes
2. Perez Companc/Cioci/Venturi (ARG/I/I), Ferrari F 458 Italia, + 0.132 seconds
3. Dempsey/Foster/Long (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.217
4. Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi (D/A/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, + 2.504
5. Collard/Perrodo/Palttala (F/F/SF), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 2.607
6. Wowlem/Patterson/Hamilton (GB/USA/GB), Ferrari 458 Italia, + 3.007
9. MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen (USA/USA/NL), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 4.439
Two more qualifying sessions are held on Thursday from 19.00 to 21.00 hrs and from 22.00 hrs until midnight. The race starts at 15.00 hrs on Saturday.