At the official pre-test, the Porsche GT Team has continued its preparations for the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (11/12 June). In the two four-hour sessions on the 13.626-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, both Porsche 911 RSR run by the works team turned a total of 143 laps (1,949 kilometres). On the timesheets, the No. 91 and 92 cars occupied positions three and six in the notoriously competitive GTE-Pro class. Eight other ca. 378 kW (515 PS) racers from Weissach will tackle the GTE-Am category. The fastest Porsche in that class was the No. 93 entry from Proton Competition with Hollywood star Michael Fassbender as one of the driver crew.
“In the morning, damage to the No. 92 car and an accident involving the sister car cost us a lot of time but things ran more smoothly after that,” stated Alexander Stehlig, Director Factory Motorsport FIA WEC. “We turned a lot of laps in the afternoon and gained important data and insights into the tyres and the setup. Our engineers will now take a close look and, with the crew, make further improvements to our two Porsche 911 RSR for the first practice sessions and the qualifying next Wednesday.”
The four-hour test in the morning did not go to plan for the Porsche GT Team. After four laps on the 13.626-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, Michael Christensen had to park the No. 92 car in the Tertre Rouge corner. The team found damage to the driveshaft. After about an hour spent on repairs, the vehicle was able to rejoin the action. At that point, the No. 91 sister car came into the pits. After Gianmaria Bruni had slid into the tyre wall at the Mulsanne corner, several components on the front of the car had to be replaced. During the first session, the two 911 RSR only managed to turn a total of 41 laps.
In the afternoon, the works team completed an extensive programme in slightly overcast conditions and temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius to prepare for the final Le Mans outing in the GTE-Pro class. In the second session, Bruni and his teammates Richard Lietz from Austria and Frédéric Makowiecki from France lapped the legendary circuit 52 times. Christensen, Kévin Estre (France) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) turned 50 laps in the No. 92 car. The main focus for the Porsche GT Team was to optimise the setup and test the tyres.
On the only day for testing before the start of the race weekend at the Sarthe, the actor and film producer Michael Fassbender ramped up preparations for his first attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Irish-German and his teammates Matt Campbell (Australia) and Zacharie Robichon (Canada) concluded the test drive at the wheel of Proton Competition’s Porsche 911 RSR seventh in the GTE-Am category. This made the No. 93 entry with its eye-catching green paintwork the fastest 911 in the amateur class. The identical cars fielded by Hardpoint (#99) and Dempsey-Proton Racing (#77) concluded the test as the second and third-best Porsche in positions ten and eleven.
The Porsche GT Team and the customer squads now have two days to prepare the 911 RSR for the first official sessions of the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hours. The first free practice will be held this coming Wednesday from 2 pm to 5 pm. The 90th edition of the endurance classic takes off on Saturday 11 June at 4 pm (CEST).
Drivers’ comments after the pre-test
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “All in all, it was a good day, although we made a couple of mistakes. Hopefully that’s now sorted for the race week. We’ve found the setup for our Porsche 911 RSR and the vehicle balance is okay. The car is as good as it was in the past two years. Whether it’ll be enough to win the class this time remains to be seen. That’s not only up to us.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We had a minor technical defect early in the morning. The team worked quickly to get the car back on the track. In the afternoon we ticked off many items on our test programme without any problems. Still, it’s not yet possible to gauge where we stand compared to our rivals. That will become clear over the course of the race week. I anticipate that the grip conditions on the track will change significantly in the coming days.”
Michael Fassbender (Porsche 911 RSR #93): “It took me a while to get up to speed today. At first, I was overwhelmed by the sheer history of this legendary track. My second stint went a bit better but I slowed again when we changed the setup. So it was a bit of a rollercoaster. I certainly need to pick up the pace a bit, but for now, I got the car through the test day in one piece. I’ll definitely improve once I get a better feel for the quirks of the circuit.”
Harry Tincknell (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “We divided the test work in our team among the five cars. Each crew had different tasks. We finished in the top 10 in both sessions with our number 77 car. This is because we’re full of confidence after our recent class win in Belgium and also because we all have a lot more experience in the Porsche 911 RSR on this special Le Mans circuit. I think we’re heading into the most important race week of the year well prepared.”
1. Tandy/Milner/Sims (GB/USA/GB), Corvette C8.R #64, 3:54.001 minutes
2. Fuoco/Molina/Rigon (I/E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 3:54.037 minutes
3. Bruni/Lietz/Makowiecki (I/A/F), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 3:54.263 minutes
4. Calado/Pier Guidi/Serra (GB/I/BR), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 3:54.395 minutes
5. Fraga/Bird/Van Gisbergen (BR/GB/NZ), Ferrari 488 GTE #74, 3:54.437 minutes
6. Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor (DK/F/B), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 3:54.444 minutes
7. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R #63, 3:54.504 minutes
1. Kimura/Schandorff/Jensen (J/DK/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE #57, 3:54.827 minutes
2. V. d. Zande/Kvamme/Hart (NL/USA/USA), Ferrari 488 GTE #66, 3:55.241 minutes
3. Dezoteux/Ragues/Aubry (F/F/F), Ferrari 488 GTE #71, 3:55.349 minutes
6. Campbell/Fassbender/Robichon (AUS/IRL/CDN), Porsche 911 RSR #93, 3:55.747 minutes
10. Haryanto/Picariello/Rump (RI/B/EST), Porsche 911 RSR #99, 3:55.780 minutes
11. Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell (D/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 3:55.850 minutes
17. Wainwright/Barker/Pera (GB/GB/I), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 3:56.376 minutes
18. MacNeil/Andlauer/Merrill (USA/F/USA), Porsche 911 RSR #79, 3:56.489 minutes
20. Iribe/Barnicoat/Millroy (USA/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 3:56.670 minutes
21. Leutwiler/Cairoli/Pedersen (CH/I/DK), Porsche 911 RSR #46, 3:57.049 minutes
22. Poordad/Heylen/Root (USA/B/USA), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 3:58.353 minutes