The #92 Porsche 911 RSR continues to lead the GTE-Pro class after two-thirds of the race distance. At the long-distance classic in Le Mans, the trio line-up of Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) turned flawless laps during the night to defend their lead. Richard Lietz (Austria), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) are also performing strongly and currently rank second.
The nine-eleven with the starting number 93 spent 25 minutes in the pits with technical problems. Patrick Pilet (France), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) were able to rejoin the race however they have lost contact to the leading group. Bad luck hit Romain Dumas (France) and the two Germans Timo Bernhard and Sven Müller. Their #94 Porsche retired during the night with damage to the suspension.
In the GTE-Am class, the #77 vehicle fielded by Dempsey-Proton Racing and driven by Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), Christian Ried (Germany) and Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (France) safeguarded its top position. And the 510 hp nine-elevens with the starting numbers 99 (Proton Competition), 56 (Team Project 1) and 80 (Ebimotors) are still looking promising at the world’s toughest endurance race.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “We’re experiencing an extremely close race where everything is still wide open. Our #92 and #91 Porsche 911 RSR are still leading. But the competition is lapping the track at the same high speed. You can’t really pull clear to build a gap. Unfortunately two of our cars experienced problems. Chassis damage during the night on our #94 car wasn’t able to be repaired. Safety took priority. And the alternator had to be replaced on the #93 car. The car is continuing perfectly and is setting good times. It has, however, lost laps, which it probably won’t be able to regain. In the GTE-Am class, the #77 car is in the lead. Behind it everything is in a state of flux. It’s difficult to make a prognosis for the race outcome.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “The night went well for us. We were able to drive our race at the front and maintain the gap to the second car. There were no incidents with other cars and our vehicle is running very well. There’s still a long way to go.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “Our speed is good, but our sister car is going really strong at the front. It’ll be hard for us to get past them. Still, until the flag drops anything is possible at Le Mans.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #93): “We lost a lot of time in the pits and so we have virtually no chance of securing a front spot. But we definitely want to finish the race, because the experience you get at Le Mans is very important.”
Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 RSR #94): “Obviously I’m really disappointed. Most of all I feel sorry for the team because the guys have worked hard and did a great job. But things like this can happen in motor racing.”
Timo Bernhard (Porsche 911 RSR #94): “I’ve almost always reached the flag at Le Mans and I’ve never had to retire so early in the race. After facing some difficulties early on we found our rhythm and could match the pace of the top teams. After my first stint I was feeling optimistic that we’d finish in the top five. Unfortunately suspension damage put a halt to our charge at the highlight of the year, but in motor racing you simply have to deal with such things. We’re now crossing our fingers for our sister cars.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 RSR #94): “Opting for a hard compound cost us positions early, but once we switched to a softer tyre our lap times improved considerably and we could work our way up the field. The suspension damage was unfortunately irreparable. It’s a pity that such a thing happened at my first Le Mans race. But driving my first double stint in front of all these spectators was a great experience. Despite our retirement, Le Mans has been great fun.”