The two 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team will take up this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans from the second grid row. In the Hyperpole session, the two works drivers Frédéric Makowiecki from France and Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium planted the two ca. 378 kW (515 PS) 911 racers on positions three and four. In the GTE-Am class, Britain’s Harry Tincknell secured the third grid spot at the wheel of the No. 77 car campaigned by the customer team Dempsey-Proton Racing.
“It’s a pity of course that our impressive series of pole positions should end at Le Mans of all places,” declares Alexander Stehlig, Director Factory Motorsport FIA WEC. Previously, the Porsche 911 RSR had scored the best grid position at ten consecutive races of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. “Last year we were on pole but we didn’t win the race. So let’s make a virtue of necessity and turn this game around. The chequered flag will drop at 4 pm on Sunday. That’s the moment of truth. We want to secure the class win at Le Mans.”
In sunny conditions on the 13.626-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, the Porsche GT Team waited at the beginning of the 30-minute session. To avoid possible traffic with a 23-strong field all hunting top times, the two Porsche 911 RSR only left the pits after around ten minutes. Makowiecki then put in two flying laps with Vanthoor making three attempts to set the best time in the GTE-Pro class. In the end, both nine-elevens were only about half a second off pole position.
In the GTE-Am class, the Dempsey-Proton Racing team allowed even more time before attempting its qualifying laps. Half way through the session, and under the watchful eye of team co-owner Patrick Dempsey, Harry Ticknell was still sitting calmly on a toolbox, only to launch his attack in the very last minutes. In 3:53.006 minutes, the Briton missed the front row by just three-tenths of a second.
On Friday, no laps will be driven on the 13.626-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, instead, competitors will be the focus of the traditional drivers’ parade in downtown Le Mans. The 90th running of the 24-hour classic starts on Saturday at 4 pm (CEST).
Drivers’ impressions of the Hyperpole
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Everything went normally. Third place at the Le Mans 24 Hours is not a bad starting position. I tried everything, but on the last lap, the tyre pressure increased a bit too much. So I was no longer able to get the maximum performance out of the tyres. The race is long. A well-balanced car counts more than the starting position – and that’s exactly what we have.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “My fastest lap was good, very clean. I don’t think we could’ve achieved more than fourth place in this session. The Corvette was slightly better on a single hot lap. The race will be a whole different story. We hope that the power balance will then turn in our favour and that we gain the upper hand.”
Harry Tincknell (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “Third place is a great result for us. We were fifth in qualifying the day prior and we’ve now moved up two positions. The Porsche 911 RSR handles excellently in all conceivable conditions. I’m convinced that we’ll have a perfectly prepared car for the long race on Saturday and Sunday.”
1. Tandy/Milner/Sims (GB/USA/GB), Corvette C8.R #64, 3:49.985 minutes
2. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R #63, 3:50.177 minutes
3. Bruni/Lietz/Makowiecki (I/A/F), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 3:50.377 minutes
4. Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor (DK/F/B), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 3:50.522 minutes
5. Fuoco/Molina/Rigon (I/E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 3:51.779 minutes
6. Calado/Pier Guidi/Serra (GB/I/BR), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 3:51.816 minutes
1. Prette/Grunewald/Abril (I/USA/F), Ferrari 488 GTE #61, 3:52.594 minutes
2. Kimura/Schandorff/Jensen (J/DK/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE #57, 3:52.751 minutes
3. Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell (D/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 3:53.006 minutes
4. Dalla Lana/Pittard/Thiim (CDN/GB/DK), Aston Martin #98, 3:53.578 minutes
5. Cassidy/Flohr/Castellacci (NZ/CH/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #54, 3:53.757 minutes
6. Frey/Gatting/Bovy (CH/DK/B),Ferrari 488 GTE #85, 3:53.869 minutes