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Porsche claims podium spot at the Le Mans 24 hour race, WEC, rd 3, Le Mans 24 Hours, France

17 Jun

Podium LM GTE Am (l.-r.): Franck Rava, Anthony Pons, Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo (IMSA Performance Matmut) Pedro Lamy, Jack Leconte, Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal (Larbre Competition) Niclas Jonsson, Michele Rugolo, Tracy Krohn (Krohn Racing)

Stuttgart. Less than four minutes were missing for Porsche to clinch its 99th class win at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut, Nicolas Armindo, Raymond Narac, Anthony Pons[slideshow]

With the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the IMSA Performance Matmut team, Frenchman Nicolas Armindo, Raymond Narac and Anthony Pons had led the field just a few laps before the flag dropped on the 80th running of the long distance classic in the Sarthe. But in the final minutes, tyre damage robbed the 2011-spec 911 of all hopes for victory. Nevertheless, the joy over second place was huge for the French Porsche customer team.


IMSA Performance Matmut (l.-r.): Anthony Pons, Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo

“For our team and partners, Le Mans is the most important race of the year,” said team owner Raymond Narac.

“To have finished second with such a great team effort is a success that we will all savour for a long time. Thank you also to Porsche for the unbelievable support.” Nicolas Armindo said, “We focused all our work on this race. Achieving class victory at the dress rehearsal in Spa was wonderful, but it’s nothing compared to the feeling of climbing the podium here in Le Mans.”


Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, IMSA Performance Matmut: Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo, Anthony Pons

Other Porsche teams had less luck this time on the legendary Circuit des 24 Heures.

In the GTE Pro class the race was over during the night for the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports and Felbermayr-Proton.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Flying Lizard Motorsports: Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Pilet, Seth Neiman (79) – Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Marco Holzer (80)

Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA), who shared the Flying Lizard 911 with his German works driver colleagues Joerg Bergmeister and Marco Holzer, slid on gravel, which another vehicle had just spread on the track in the first chicane, hit the stack of tyres and retired after 114 laps.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Flying Lizard Motorsports: Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Pilet, Seth Neiman

“I didn’t have a chance to bring the car safely back to the pits,” he said. It was not the first problem that the number 80 vehicle had to contend with in Le Mans. In the first race lap, a broken shock absorber cost several positions, and later tyre damage caused even more time loss. “The race wasn’t going well for us right from the start,” said Joerg Bergmeister.

“Still, we kept fighting. You never give up in Le Mans, a lot can happen here right to the end. It’s just a shame we couldn’t finish the race.”

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Flying Lizard Motorsports: Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Marco Holzer

The unexpected early retirement of the Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the GTE Pro class came after 184 laps when Marc Lieb (Germany) came to a standstill on the infamous Hunaudières straight with gearbox damage.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton: Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Wolf Henzler

“I wanted to shift up but couldn’t get any gears in,” said Marc Lieb, who at the time was running in fourth place with his works driver colleagues Richard Lietz (Austria) and Wolf Henzler (Germany). The trio had won in Le Mans in 2010.

“It’s such a shame we couldn’t take home points, especially at this race. Up until our retirement we were running really well. We experienced a few hiccups along the way, but mostly things were good. A podium result would have been possible.”

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Felbermayr-Proton: Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Wolf Henzler

In the GTE Am class, Porsche had another iron in the fire for 17 hours with last year’s 911 run by Felbermayr-Proton. Team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and his Italian teammates Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti, class winners of the season-opening round in Sebring, were running a promising fourth in the race.

But after 222 laps, the Porsche Cup winner Gianluca Roda had to park the 911 trackside without any drive.

However, Porsche works driver, Patrick Pilet (France) and Americans Seth Neiman and Spencer Pumpelly secured fourth place with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports.

Taking up the race as pole-sitters in their class, they could defend their top position in the early phase of the race, only to be temporarily thrown out of the top ten after a journey into the gravel.

“First and foremost, thank you to all the teams and drivers for their superb effort,” said Porsche Head of Motorsport, Hartmut Kristen. “Regardless of the result, we must analyse the race so that we can talk to the authorities of the WEC about a more balanced grading of our cars in the GTE Pro class for the second half of the season.

We will also immediately begin preparations for the next races with the teams, as the championship classification is still open. We look forward with optimism.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Round four of the World Endurance Championship is run on 26 August in Silverstone/Great Britain.

Result

GTE Am class
1. Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy (F/F/P), Chevrolet Corvette, 329 laps
2. Armindo/Narac/Pons (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 328
3. Krohn/Jonsson/Rugola (USA/S/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 323
4. Pilet/Neiman/Pumpelly (F/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 313
5. Belloc/Bourret/Gibon (F/F/F), Chevrolet Corvette, 309
8. Daniels/Palttala/Camathias (GB/SF/CH), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 290

This is the World Endurance Championship
Sports prototypes and GT vehicles contest the World Endurance Championship, for which double points are awarded in Le Mans. They are divided into four classes that start together but are classified separately:

LMGTE Pro class: This class is reserved for slightly modified standard sports cars with 440 to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).

LMGTE Am class: Like the LMGTE Pro, but the regulations stipulate that only last year’s cars are eligible and there must be no more than one professional driver per vehicle.

LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.

LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with around 440 hp and a 900 kilogram minimum weight.

SOURCE: Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship

Porsche AG Media Database

Communication Porsche AG
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