Among the 12 Porsche 911 RSR entered for the 89th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, HubAuto Racing and Absolute Racing arrive from Asia to take on the world’s most famous race.
Ahead of its 70th anniversary at the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe, Porsche holds the record for the most overall victories, podiums and pole positions of any manufacturer at Le Mans. Having not missed an event since its maiden outing in 1951, the German marque has 19 outright wins to its name, in addition to 108 in class.
Porsche will continue to make Le Mans history this year, as HubAuto Racing will be the first Asian team to compete in the GTE-Pro class. Dries Vanthoor, brother of Porsche factory driver Laurens, is alongside fellow class winner Maxime Martin and Álvaro Parente in the #72 Porsche 911 RSR. The #72 is one of the most popular car numbers at the event, due to the circuit sitting in Département de la Sarthe, which is Département 72 in France.
The Taipei-based team will be one of four Porsche in the Pro class and is making its second appearance at Le Mans, following its 2019 entry in partnership with Proton Competition. HubAuto Racing also previously ran two Porsche 911 GT3 R 2017 in both China GT and Blancpain GT Series Asia.
Absolute Racing is set to make its debut at the famous twice-round-the-clock event in the GTE-Am category. Indonesia’s Andrew Haryanto, Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver Alessio Picariello and Marco Seefried are onboard the #18 car, which will sport a special livery promoting its #OneWorldOneRace campaign, aiming to tackle discrimination.
The Shanghai outfit has utilised the Spa-Francorchamps and Monza rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship to prepare for its maiden Le Mans appearance, with the driver trio in the Proton Competition entry for the two races.
The team has previously represented Porsche on the global stage, taking the marque’s first pole position at the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2020 as well as a podium finish at the Suzuka 10 Hours the previous year in the 911 GT3 R. Also running four 911 GT3 Cup in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in various series, Absolute Racing is represented on every level of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid and is a perfect example of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Ltd.’s strategy to take teams to the highest level of motorsport.
Ahead of the Official Test Day, Haryanto, Picariello and Seefried re-created the journey made by the Porsche 356 SL in 1951 ahead of the manufacturer’s first appearance at the event from the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, via the iconic Porsche garage in Téloché, to Le Mans. The trio completed the 850-kilometre trip over three days in Porsche road cars from different eras, a current-generation Porsche 911, a Porsche G-Model and a Porsche 356.
In his second year as the Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver, Picariello also makes his first appearance at the event, continuing his programme of competing in two of the world’s biggest endurance races following a successful debut at the Nürburgring 24 Hours in June, where he finished fourth with Falken Motorsports. The Belgian racer experienced the previous generation 911 RSR last season, winning the European Le Mans Series title on his first attempt with Proton Competition.
2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia Pro-Am champion Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak will make his second appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Thai racer will drive for Proton Competition in the #99 car alongside Harry Tincknell and Florian Latorre.
Porsche fields two works entries this year, with 2020 polesitter Gianmaria Bruni alongside Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki in the #91 car and Kévin Estre, Neel Jani and Michael Christensen in the sister #92. Also in GTE-Pro is WeatherTech Racing with factory drivers Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor joining Cooper MacNeil. Meanwhile, Porsche will also be represented by Team Project 1, Herberth Motorsport, Dempsey-Proton Racing, GR Racing and Proton Competition in GTE-Am.
Dries Vanthoor, #72 HubAuto Racing: “I’m super happy to be driving for HubAuto Racing for the team’s first entry in LMGTE Pro. It’s a great feeling to be back at Le Mans for the first time since 2017. We have a really strong driver line-up with Maxime and Álvaro, we’re all fast drivers and are aiming for a great result.”
Maxime Martin, #72 HubAuto Racing: “I’m very happy to be racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with HubAuto Racing in the LMGTE Pro category. It’s great to have the opportunity to defend my victory from last year in the Porsche 911 RSR and we’ll all be aiming for the win again in 2021.”
Álvaro Parente, #72 HubAuto Racing: “It will be a tough race, as we are a private team against the factory efforts. Despite this, we have a great line-up, Maxime won last year’s race in the LMGTE Pro class and Dries is really fast. The team is very professional and motivated and you can sense the desire to do well from every single member.”
Morris Chen, Team Principal and Owner, HubAuto Racing: “It’s an exciting time for HubAuto Racing, entering the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an extremely talented line-up. Maxime, Álvaro and Dries are all accomplished drivers on this track. We’re proud to be the first Asian team in history to compete in the LMGTE Pro category and we believe we can score a strong result. We want to make Asia, our supporters and our sponsors proud.”
Andrew Haryanto, #18 Absolute Racing: “I’m really excited to be competing at Le Mans this week, it’s always been one of my dreams so I’m very happy to be here. It’s a tough track to master on your first visit, I know it will be difficult but I’ll give my best for the team. I’ve got a great crew behind me and two amazing drivers in Alessio and Marco to help me acclimatise to the car and the track.”
Alessio Picariello, Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver, #18 Absolute Racing: “I’m very pleased to be here and happy the Official Test went smoothly and that we managed to get through everything we had planned. The pace of the car was very good, both in the morning and the afternoon, so that’s a big positive. We’re taking it easy and enjoying it. It’s amazing to be here and I can’t wait to get back in the car later in the week.”
Marco Seefried, #18 Absolute Racing: “I think we had a very good and productive Official Test. Andrew had never been here before, so we worked with him and he made big improvements throughout the day and we’re pleased with his performance. The car felt great on track and the team did a brilliant job. It’s always hard to say how the weekend will unfold, but we’re making good steps towards being competitive. The Balance of Performance has been recalculated for Le Mans, and even though we are not as fast as we would like on top speed, the lap time is there.”
Ingo Matter, Team Director, Absolute Racing: “The focus at the Official Test was to give Andrew and Alessio the opportunity to learn and understand the track. Marco also needed track time as he has not driven at Le Mans for quite some time. The goal was to prepare for the race and we managed to complete all the tasks as planned. During the day the team gathered a lot of information, which is an important element in our preparation for the race. We have a strong line-up and everyone performed their tasks flawlessly. We feel excited and ready to take on the coming week.”
Alexandre Gibot, Managing Director Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Ltd.: “We’re very proud to see two Asian teams going through their final preparations before taking on the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this week. It’s amazing to have HubAuto Racing making Le Mans history by being the first Asian entry into the GTE-Pro category, and I hope many more will follow. Porsche has a very rich history at this famous race so it’s fitting that we are the ones to field the first Pro Asian entry here. It’s also great to see Absolute Racing climbing to the top of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid, running cars from GT4 all the way to GTE. This is exactly what we want to see from the teams we support, so we are extremely pleased to see them race this weekend. In these two teams, we have dedicated and talented outfits ready to compete in the world’s biggest endurance race. I’m really excited to see them on the track later this week and we wish them the best of luck for the race.”
Source. Pole/Photo. Porsche