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Porsche Motorsports Weekly Event Notes: Monday, June 11, 2018

This Week:

  • Le Mans Record. Ten Porsche 911 RSR Face World’s Toughest Sports Car Race.

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    Le Mans Record. Ten Porsche 911 RSR Face World’s Toughest Sports Car Race.

    Porsche holds the Manufacturer record for both overall victories and class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with 19 victories and 105 wins, respectively. On June 16 – 17, the German marque will return to La Sarthe to tackle the 86th edition of Le Mans in attempt to add to the tally with the largest factory GT contingent in the history of the company. The two Porsche GT Teams will field four of the Porsche 911 RSR at the Circuit des 24 Heures in France. Four customer teams will campaign six additional entries of the 510 hp 911 RSR built in Weissach, Germany. On June 3, the Porsche 911 RSR clocked the fastest lap times at the test day in both the LMGTE-Pro and LMGTE-Am class.

    Initiated in 1923 as the Grand Prix d’Endurance de 24 Heures, Porsche first took on the challenge of racing at the event in 1951, and has competed at the famed circuit every year since. The legendary course is currently 8.47-miles (13.626-kilometer) in length, with 38-turns, a combination of permanent racetrack and everyday roads.

    Both Porsche GT Teams from the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – Nos. 93 and 94 – and the FIA/ACO World Endurance Championship (WEC) – Nos. 91 and 92 – will put the full-works focus on raising the LM24 first-place trophy for the 106th time. To honor the 70 years of Porsche sports cars, the Nos. 91 and 91 will carry historic liveries for the “twice around the clock” classic. The No. 91 will carry the blue, white, red and gold of the Rothmans cars of the 1980s while the No. 92 will feature the “Pink Pig” artwork of the famed 917/20 from 1971.

    The CORE autosport-operated Porsche GT Team is currently second in the WeatherTech GTLM team standings while Porsche stands atop the Manufacturer ranks in North America after four races. The 911 RSR has won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (No. 911) and the most recent all-classes race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (No. 912). The FIA/ACO World Endurance Championship (WEC) “works” team travels to round two of the WEC’s “Super Season” as the leader in the GTE Manufacturers’ Championship category.

    Twelve “works” drivers will compete for victory in the LMGTE-Pro class. Sharing driving duties in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR are Richard Lietz (Austria), Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki. Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen from Denmark and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) contest the long-distance classic in the No. 92 car. Operating the third 911 RSR (No. 93) for the Porsche GT Team are Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and New Zealander Earl Bamber. The No. 93 set the fastest lap time in the class at the June 3 “Test Day”. Timo Bernhard from Germany, Romain Dumas (France) and Sven Müller (Germany) helm the No. 94 race car. With Bamber, Bernhard, Dumas and Tandy, four overall Le Mans winners will be contesting the 24-hour race for Porsche.

    Four customer teams field another six Porsche 911 RSR racers in the LMGTE-Am class. The United States is well represented in the Pro-Am style category. Porsche works driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), Timothy Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia) share the cockpit of the No. 99 Porsche 911 RSR run by Proton Competition and backed by Pirelli World Challenge regular Black Swan Racing. The Team Project 1 WEC team relies on Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), Egidio Perfetti (Norway) and Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California). Bergmeister and Lindsey are regulars in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class campaigning the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in the North American Endurance Championship. Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark) – who races the No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD class with Long – heads the Ebimotors entry with Fabio Babini (Italy) and Erik Maris (France).

    Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), Christian Ried (Germany) and the 18-year-old Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (France) tackle the race in Dempsey Proton Racing’s No. 77 car. Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Khaled Al Qubaisi (United Arab Emirates) and Giorgio Roda (Italy) drive the second 911 RSR of the squad that enjoys support from the actor Patrick Dempsey. The 911 RSR of Gulf Racing will compete with British drivers Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker. Australian Alex Davison rounds out the Gulf Racing team.

    For the Porsche 911 RSR, 2018 marks the second outing at the long-distance race in the LMGTE-Pro class, the first in LMGTE-Am. In its 2017 debut season, the race car narrowly missed out on a podium spot, finishing in fourth-place at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Depending on the series mandated air-restrictor size, the water-cooled four-liter flat-six engine puts out around 510 hp. A large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing generates high downforce and provides aerodynamic efficiency.

    The race starts on Saturday, June 16, at 9:00 a.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. local Le Mans time. On Wednesday, June 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, teams have the chance to find a suitable setup for the 911 RSR in free practice. On the same day, the first two-hour qualifying session is held starting at 4:00 p.m. ET. On Thursday, June 14, two more qualifying sessions are scheduled: from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET as well as from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, teams attempt to clock the fastest lap times.

    Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, President Motorsport and GT Cars.
    “With the changes to our strategy announced last year and the withdrawal from the LMP1 program, we’ve also promised to expand our involvement in GT racing. This year’s Le Mans is definitely the highlight, which is obvious by the number of vehicles competing. With a total of ten Porsche 911 RSR, we’re witnessing one of the largest GT line-ups ever. Our cars represent 30 percent of the entire GT field, and we’re very proud of this. We’re anticipating a very exciting race, particularly in the GTE-Pro category. Seventeen vehicles from six manufacturers with top drivers will go head-to-head at Le Mans. We’re better prepared than ever before and after our great results at Spa, our successes in the USA, and especially at the Nürburgring, we’re heading to Le Mans feeling confident.”

    Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport.
    “The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a legendary race, and the history of Porsche is closely linked to it. We want to follow in these big footsteps and be as successful as possible. The key to success at a long-distance event is to still be capable of attacking in the final stages.”

    Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “2018 is a very special year for Porsche because we’re celebrating 70 years of Porsche sports cars. With this being my first time contesting the Le Mans 24 Hours for Porsche it’s also an exciting experience for me. We kicked off the WEC season at Spa very competitively. I can hardly wait to drive again at Le Mans.”

    Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “The setup of our 911 RSR for Spa was outstanding. Unfortunately, the strategy was influenced by the safety car phases. But at Le Mans, we have 24 hours until the flag drops and more tires at our disposal to fight for the podium.”

    Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “Le Mans is the ultimate highlight for many drivers. But for me as a Frenchman, this is the most important race. I’m determined to win this race once in my career. To be amongst the leaders you need a high top speed on this racetrack. Last year we were on track for a podium result until a puncture threw us out of contention an hour before the finish.”

    Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “I’m looking forward to my fourth Le Mans 24-hour race, not least because many of my family members will be there. It’s very emotional to line up on the grid and hear the French national anthem. No other race gives a driver such a feeling.”

    Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “The race and the track have an incredible history. This makes Le Mans an extraordinary event. It is vital to maintain your focus during the entire time. The straights and particularly the Porsche Curves are important because you’re driving at high speed in these passages. For me, the feeling of driving at Le Mans is unparalleled.”

    Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “Le Mans is unquestionably the highlight of the year. The big goal is to secure another win for Porsche. The factory is campaigning four 911 RSR – I think this underscores our intention. It’s an important race for us all. As such, there’s a lot of pressure to perform well. That’s precisely our forte. We’re well prepared.”

    Patrick Pilet, Driver, No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “I live in Paris only 200 kilometers [124-miles] away, which makes Le Mans my home race. I am excited to compete with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber and I’m certain that we’ve put a good package together to win this race. At the test day we were already able to score the fastest lap time.”

    Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “I can’t wait to return to Le Mans. It’ll be really exciting, especially after our LMP1 win for Porsche in 2017. Fielding four 911 RSR is a big challenge for the factory. My aim is clear: I am going for the podium. I’m looking forward to competing at the world’s biggest race with my team from the IMSA Championship.”

    Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “Le Mans is a very special race for me, of course. I have always raced for Porsche here and I look forward to competing in the GT class again this year. There are a lot of cars in the GTE-Pro class and it’ll be hotly contested. The entire team can hardly wait for the long-distance race to start.”

    Timo Bernhard, Driver, No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “Last year’s overall victory will be hard to beat, of course. Back in 2002, I actually won the GT class. As two-time outright winner it’s wonderful to return to Le Mans, to fight again for victory, and to meet up with old friends.”

    Romain Dumas, Driver, No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “This will be my first Le Mans race in a GT car since 2013, and I’m looking forward to it. The GTE-Pro grid has never been this competitive. It’s important to focus on our job and not think about the opposition. We’re simply driving our race. I’m sure we’ll do a good job.”

    Sven Müller, Driver, No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “In 2015 I got the chance to turn a few laps during the pre-test. I even got goose bumps doing that. I’m looking forward to that feeling at my first outing here as a regular driver. We went testing at Spa and Monza with my teammates and our engineer and we managed to try out all the tires. With my race at Le Mans, a dream comes true.”

    Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
    “I’ve contested Le Mans every year since 2002 with one exception. Fortunately, nothing of the unique atmosphere has changed by now. The race is just as popular as ever. The butterflies start about two weeks before the race, and the tension continues to mount until the start on Saturday.”

    Christina Nielsen, Driver, No. 80 Ebimotors Porsche 911 RSR.
    “This will be my third time at Le Mans, but my first with Porsche. The 911 RSR is not at all like the 911 GT3 R that I drive in the IMSA Championship. I must admit, I love the RSR. The tests with Ebimotors have gone very well so far and we’re heading to France feeling optimistic.”

    Patrick Long, Driver, No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR.
    “This is my 15th Le Mans race in a row. I am really proud of that. We’re competing with an experienced team and good drivers. It is particularly important to strike a balance between the action on the racetrack and the rest breaks. I’d like to show the rookies in particular how important it is to make as few mistakes as possible at this race. American fans love this race. They know Le Mans from Steve McQueen’s movie with the same name and they make the trip here to fulfill a dream.”

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    • Motorsports
    • Season 2018
    • 24h Le Mans GT
    • IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
    • World Endurance Championship GT
    • France \ Le Mans
    • Racingcars
    • 911 RSR - Type 991

Porsche Motorsports Weekly Event Notes: Monday, June 11, 2018

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