Stuttgart. It was a debut made to order: At its first ever outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, the Porsche 911 RSR brought home a double victory. At the 82nd edition of the world’s most famous long distance race, contested on the Circuit des 24 Heures on 14/15 June, Porsche Team Manthey will again field a pair of 911 RSR in the GTE-Pro class. Taking up the challenge alongside the factory squad, Porsche customer teams from Europe and America again contest the GTE-Am class, which Porsche also won last year. The classic event in provincial France, where Porsche is chronicled as the most successful manufacturer with 16 overall victories, is regarded as the highlight of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC).
First contested in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the toughest automobile race in the world and represents the greatest challenge motorsport has to offer. What makes this classic so unique is also the 13.65 kilometre “Circuit des 24 Heures”, one of the oldest and fastest race tracks in the world with 38 corners and the legendary five-kilometre long Mulsanne straight. Almost 75 percent of a lap is driven at full throttle.
Double points are awarded for round three of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC at Le Mans. Tackling the GTE-Pro class in the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR are Porsche factory pilots Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain). Sharing the #92 cockpit are their works driver colleagues Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and last year’s winner Richard Lietz (Austria). Customer teams take on the GTE-Am class with a pair of 911 RSR: For the Dempsey Racing-Proton outfit, Patrick Dempsey (USA) and Joe Foster (USA) join forces with Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA). Christian Ried (Germany), Porsche junior Klaus Bachler (Austria) and Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) compete for Proton Competition. The customer squads IMSA Performance Matmut and Prospeed Competition each bring two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in last year’s spec to the start. IMSA Performance Matmut has contracted an all-French driver line-up with Erik Maris, Jean Marc Merlin and Eric Hélary as well as Raymond Narac, Nicolas Armindo and David Hallyday. Taking on the challenge for Prospeed Competition are Cooper MacNeil (USA), Bret Curtis (USA) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) as well as Frenchmen Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard.
The Porsche 911 RSR
The Porsche 911 RSR which Porsche has campaigned in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship since 2013 is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. At its race debut last year the 470 hp winning racer from Weissach scored a brilliant double victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For 2014, the 911 RSR received improvements in many areas. In addition to winning the WEC season opener at Silverstone, this racer has also clinched victories at the long distance classics at Daytona and Sebring. Through the balance of performance ruling, the 911 RSR for Le Mans must now weigh 25 kilograms more than last year’s contender, with the restrictors reduced from 29.6 to 29.3 millimetres.
Free practice on the Circuit des 24 Heures is held on Wednesday, 11 June, from 16.00 to 20.00 hrs, followed by the first qualifying session from 22.00 hrs to midnight. Two more qualifying sessions follow on Thursday, 12 June, from 19.00 to 21.00 hrs and from 22.00 hrs to midnight. The start flag for the 24 hour pursuit drops on Saturday, 14 June, at 15.00 hours. The 56-strong field is sent on its way by ex-Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso.
Eurosport International and Eurosport 2 alternately broadcast the complete race live. The last two hours of free practice as well as the three qualifying sessions and the warm-up are also televised live. Also aired during the week are various programmes highlighting the world’s most famous long distance race with news, interviews, portraits and background reports. Detailed TV information is available on http://www.eurosport.com.
Quotes before the race