Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Julien Andlauer (France), and Thomas Merrill (Salinas, Calif.) logged maximum miles today behind the wheel of the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am car in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans to run June 11-12.
Andlauer took the opening stints to confirm the setup of the red, white, and blue WeatherTech Porsche. Handing off to Le Mans first-timer Merrill he was able to get his first taste of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe. MacNeil took most of the running in the afternoon that was hampered by slow zones and tire barrier repairs. The WeatherTech/Proton Competition team was able to easily accomplish the first day of running to-do list.
“We were able to get everyone up to speed,” MacNeil said. “I arrived late this morning, so I got my running done in the afternoon. I felt a little issue with the braking that I wasn’t comfortable with and cut my time a little short. Better to be safe than sorry in the early going this week. I will get a lot of laps on Wednesday and Thursday to make up for it.
“Julien and Thomas did a lot of laps. I am really impressed with Thomas’ approach and his consistency. He doesn’t seem fazed at all about this place.”
Porsche Factory Driver Andlauer likes the pace of his co-drivers and called the day a success.
“Everything was good today,” Andlauer said. “All three of us had quite a lot of driving time today. We are comfortable with the WeatherTech Porsche. Once the track got clean, I felt the car had good pace. I think we have a good starting balance.
“Thomas did a good job and Cooper has a lot of laps here, so we have our new Bronze guy pretty comfortable, and I feel good about going into practice and qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday.”
Still grinning from ear-to-ear Merrill is getting comfortable with the Le Mans on-track protocols and the aura of being a part of the event.
“My eyes were so wide-open during my first few laps, I was just taking it all in,” Merrill said. “It’s awesome to be on the WeatherTech team, be in this Porsche RSR, and be at this racetrack. I have zero complaints, except that I don’t get to get back in the car tomorrow, I have to wait until Wednesday. Glad we got Julien to get the car dialed in, Cooper was able to get some laps, and I was able to get familiar with the racetrack and keep progressing forward.
“It was fun out there! The straights here are quite long and you have a little time to relax which I didn’t realize, which makes doing a long stint not as difficult as I thought.”
The team will return to the track for more practice and qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the 4 p.m. CET start on Saturday, June 11.
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing
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