GT Qualifying 1 – World Endurance Championship WEC, Round 3, Le Mans 24 Hours/France
For the Porsche GT Team, the main focus of the first qualifying session on Wednesday for the 85th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours was to prepare for the race. During the 1:40-hour night session in temperatures of just over 25 degrees Celsius, the quickest Porsche 911 RSR (#92) clocked the sixth fastest time in the GTE-Pro class. Michael Christensen (Denmark), Kévin Estre (France) and Dirk Werner (Germany) share the cockpit of the 510 hp race car, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. It tackles the long-distance classic in France for the first time. The second 911 RSR (#91) fielded by the Porsche GT Team, with drivers Richard Lietz (Austria) as well as the Frenchmen Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet, posted the eighth quickest time in this first showdown on the 13.629-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures. The fastest Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class was the vehicle of the customer team Dempsey Proton Racing in second place, with the Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) as one of the pilots.
Two more qualifying sessions are on the programme: on Thursday from 19.00 to 21.00 hours as well as 22.00 hrs to midnight. The race starts on Saturday at 15.00 hours.
Quotes on Qualifying 1
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “That was just a first taste today. I expect to see even faster lap times tomorrow evening when the track has developed more grip. Right from the beginning, the level was very high, so we’re going to have to up our game. But we’re feeling confident. The situation in the GTE-Am class looks a bit better. The fastest Porsche on second place was a great start.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #91): “My first lap was good, but we then encountered heavy traffic and the slow zone and had no chance to clock a faster time. Still, tomorrow is another day. The vehicle setup was good right from the start, but we still have to improve.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #91): “We experienced very changeable conditions today. During the afternoon’s free practice the racetrack was incredibly hot, during the night qualifying it cooled down significantly. For this reason we were able to gain some important insights with respect to the tyres and we’ll make some changes to the vehicle based on these findings. Apart from that, we also got an initial idea of how our competitors are performing. All in all we’re feeling very pleased.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #91): “That was an interesting first comparison with our rivals. It wasn’t too bad to begin with, but we still have some work to do on our car. We have some ideas that we aim to implement tomorrow. That will be our focus.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #92): “I tried everything to get a clear run but that didn’t happen in my stint. In the entire qualifying I only managed to drive one lap without major traffic. Hopefully it’ll be better tomorrow.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “The track was very dirty during free practice, but more than anything else it was extremely hot. I can’t remember driving our new 911 RSR in such high temperatures. We made various changes prior to the qualifying and attempted to find the right tyre compound. I’m optimistic that we’ll find the best setup for our car, especially since we still have time on Thursday.”
Dirk Werner (911 RSR #92): “After Michael put in a fast lap we tried out different configurations during my stint to optimise the race setup. I first had to get used to driving in the dark here at Le Mans, but the car ran flawlessly and we had no technical problems whatsoever. We’re still lacking a bit of speed but we have enough time tomorrow.”
Patrick Long (911 RSR #93): “The 911 RSR’s balance was good. Unfortunately we were held up by a driver in the first laps, who was apparently out on the Le Mans track for the first time at night. And after that it was virtually impossible to get a free run. We still have two more chances tomorrow to improve.”
Matteo Cairoli (911 RSR #77): “It’s a great feeling to drive in Le Mans at night. I was very fast right from the start of the qualifying, but after that I was hampered by slower cars in front of me. Our 911 RSR ran very well and the team worked perfectly. In tomorrow’s two qualifying sessions we’ll still have plenty of opportunities to turn a fast lap.”