At the first qualifying for the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC in Le Mans (France), the Porsche GT Team has left a strong impression. In the GTE-Pro class, all four Porsche 911 RSR claimed a spot in the top six. At the wheel of the ca. 510 hp 911, Nick Tandy achieved the second quickest lap time with 3:49.558 minutes in the two-hour qualifying session on the storied 13.626-kilometre racetrack. The British driver shares the No. 93 car with Patrick Pilet (France) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand).
The sister car driven by Porsche works drivers Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) wrapped up the night session on fourth place. Sven Müller (Germany) and the Porsche Young Professionals Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) clocked the fifth quickest time in their No. 94 911 RSR. The fourth Porsche works vehicle with the starting number 92, which is shared by last year’s winners Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), ended the first major showdown at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on sixth.
In temperatures of around 13 degrees Celsius, the Porsche customer teams delivered impressive performances. The Italian Matteo Cairoli was the fastest in the GTE-Am class at the wheel of Dempsey Proton Racing’s No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR. Second place was occupied by the crew of the championship leader, Project 1. The No. 77 car fielded by Dempsey Proton Racing rounded off this outstanding achievement with third place.
The second and third qualifying sessions will be held on Thursday (13 June) from 7pm to 9pm and from 10pm to midnight. A highlight of the event is the drivers’ parade in the Le Mans city centre on Friday, 14 June, from 5pm. The 24 Hours of Le Mans heads off on Saturday, 15 June, 2019, at 3pm local time.
Comments on the 1st qualifying
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We witnessed a great first qualifying. In the GTE-Pro class, our four cars were amongst the top six. In the GTE-Am class, the three Porsche 911 RSR locked out the first three positions after the first qualifying session. It was a very good first day, but tomorrow the lap times could even fall a bit more if it stays dry.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “We used today’s sessions to prepare for the race. There are a couple of details that need tweaking on our car, with the focus on our 911 RSR’s driveability. I hope that tomorrow’s conditions are at least as favourable as today’s. Then, like last year, we’ll do our utmost to clinch pole position.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We turned solid laps, which put us amongst the frontrunners. The weather tomorrow should be similar to today. If this is the case, then we should see further improvements in the lap times. I’m very happy with our car’s balance.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #93): “I was not able to tap the full potential on fresh tyres because I constantly encountered heavy traffic. Still, our result looks very good. I hope the track offers a little more grip tomorrow; the lap times should then continue to drop. We learned a lot today. If we can now utilise those insights, we could make it to the very top.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 RSR #94): “I couldn’t get the best out of the first set of tyres. I simply lack Le Mans experience – especially in the dark. It went much better on the second set. The car feels fantastic. We’ll definitely be able to do better in the two remaining qualifying sessions. That’s a good feeling.”
Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “The cold asphalt gave us very little grip this evening. Still, our car handled beautifully, and we only have to make a few minor changes to the setup. I’m sure we’ll be even faster tomorrow.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #56): “The qualifying ran well. We went out on the track early, so we didn’t encounter a lot of traffic. It only got really busy on the circuit from the third lap onwards. I drove with soft tyres and an almost empty tank for the first time. My fastest lap wasn’t quite perfect, but I think more will be possible in some of the sectors. That’s why I’m optimistic that we’ll be even faster tomorrow.”
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “We improved significantly over the course of the qualifying. Initially, the balance of the car wasn’t quite right, and we had a few problems with the brakes. We then changed the setup. From that point on things went very well, especially on fresh rubber. We’re feeling optimistic for the decisive sessions tomorrow. Obviously the weather always plays an important role, but we’re prepared for everything.”
Result Qualifying 1
1. Priaulx/Tincknell/Bomarito (GB/GB/USA), Ford GT, 3:49.530 minutes
2. Pilet/Bamber/Tandy (F/NZ/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.028 seconds
3. Martin/Lynn/Adam (B/GB/GB), Aston Martin Vantage AMR, + 0.507 seconds
4. Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki (A/I/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.569 seconds
5. Müller/Jaminet/Olsen (D/F/N), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.748 seconds
6. Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor (DK/F/B), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.938 seconds
1. Hoshino/Roda/Cairoli (J/I/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 3:52.454 minutes
2. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti (D/USA/N), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.296 seconds
3. Campbell/Ried/Andlauer (AUS/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.954 seconds
7. Prette/Prette/Abril (I/I/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.870 seconds
10. Wainwright/Barker/Preining (GB/GB/A), Porsche 911 RSR, + 2.579 seconds