Qualifying 1, World Endurance Championship WEC, Round 2 at Le Mans/France
Porsche has left a strong impression after the first qualifying session on the Circuit des 24 Heures. In his very first lap, start driver Gianmaria Bruni set a phenomenal time of 3:47.504 minutes in his #91 Porsche 911 RSR, a time that none of his opponents could even come close to. The Italian’s 510 hp racer was setup specifically for a fast lap and benefited from the fact that the 13.626-kilometre circuit has become significantly faster compared to last year. Bruni’s vehicle then suffered a puncture and was unable to continue. However, he and his teammates Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) managed to retain the top spot in the first qualifying session at the toughest long-distance race in the world.
Behind the trio, Michael Christensen (Denmark), Kévin Estre (France) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) planted their #92 Porsche 911 RSR on second. The two other 911 RSR that will contest the GTE-Pro class at the 86th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours posted the sixth and seventh quickest time.
In the GTE-Am class, three Porsche racers topped the time sheets at the first qualifying. Driving for Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) posted the fastest lap in his 510 hp 911 RSR (#88). In the second Dempsey-Proton Racing entry, Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (France) set the second fastest time in the #77 car, with Ben Barker (Great Britain) turning the third quickest lap in Gulf Racing’s #86 vehicle.
On Thursday, two more qualifying sessions will be held on the Circuit des 24 Heures from 19:00 to 21:00 hrs and from 22:00 hrs to midnight. The race takes off on Saturday at 15.00 hrs.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport: “Our clear goal was to be the fastest in qualifying. We’ve been working towards this since the test day. Gianmaria Bruni pulled out all stops and put in a perfect lap right at the start. We knew that this could only happen at the beginning of the session, because that’s when the traffic is lightest. The great result with three Porsche 911 RSR cars on the first three positions in the GTE-Am class shows us just how well our customers understand the car. If you look at the times in all classes, you’ll notice that the racetrack has become at least three seconds faster compared to last year.”
Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “My first lap was fantastic with very little traffic and so I was able to coax everything out of the car. In the second lap I took Turn 1 exactly as I had in the previous lap, however I suddenly lost the car while turning in and ended up in the gravel. When I climbed out I noticed that the front right tyre was flat. I’m very pleased with my great time.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “The focus for us in the first qualifying was to work on our race pace. Setting second behind our sister car showed that we’re on the right path, although not everything ran perfectly. We have to keep working on the car until the race and we’ll be using Thursday’s two qualifying sessions to do this.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “The conditions on the track are tricky. It’s dark and cold and you have to get used to the new tyres. The car feels good, we’re just a little off the pace at the moment.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “It was important for me to adjust the car to night-time conditions and to see how high the tyre wear is. Everything felt fine, we just have to get a bit more out of the car.”
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