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Porsche keen to repeat last year’s GT victory, Sports Car World Championship WEC, rd 3, Le Mans 24 Hours/France

 

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy

 

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).

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The race
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.

Porsche drivers
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.

The schedule
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.

TV tips
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

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport:

“Le Mans is the highlight of the year. For our teams and drivers this race represents an exceptional challenge – and we’re feeling highly motivated and very well prepared. After our double victory at the season-opener in Silverstone, our car now has to carry 25 extra kilograms of ballast and the diameter of the two restrictors is now 0.3 millimetres smaller than last year’s. When considering the additional changes made, as against 2013, at one or the other competitor one has to question to what extent is the Balance of Performance actually balanced. We feel it is a matter of utmost urgency in the spirit of the sport to find a regulation for the classification of vehicles where you don’t have to fear being punished for a good performance, like what happened to us after Silverstone. Nevertheless, we’ll work extremely hard to do a good job at Le Mans – just like last year.”

Joerg Bergmeister (#91):

“I’ve raced at Le Mans since 2002 and it’s a fantastic feeling to be back again this year. It’s the season highlight for me. This race has a very special atmosphere and it’s always incredibly demanding. More than anything I enjoy the extremely fast corners, they’re the most fun. Last year we came second behind our teammates and I wouldn’t mind at all if we switch positions this year.”

Patrick Pilet (#91):

“Le Mans is a very special race, especially for me as a Frenchman. It’s always an incredible feeling to go racing on such an extreme circuit in front of so many fans. Aside from the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans is the greatest race on Earth. We are well prepared and our 911 RSR is a strong contender, especially on the long straights. It would be fantastic if we could turn this into a win. We were so close last year.”

Nick Tandy (#91):

“Ever since I began racing for Porsche at Le Mans in 2010 it has been my goal to secure a podium spot here. You only get this chance once a year and I’ll do everything within my power to make it happen. For a race driver, Le Mans is a magical place. Even when you arrive in the paddock you get a sense of the great history. And the Circuit des 24 Heures is something very special with its unique combination of race track and normal country roads. It’s an honour for me to drive again for Porsche at Le Mans this year.”

Marco Holzer (#92):

“At my first race in Le Mans in 2010 we managed to achieve a podium finish with third place. When I think back to the cheering crowds at the award ceremony it still sends shivers down my spine. I’d very much like to experience this feeling again and our chances don’t look too bad. We have a great car and a strong team behind us. But in Le Mans you can’t afford to make one mistake. You have to be totally focussed otherwise you can forget it.”

Frédéric Makowiecki (#92):

“As a Frenchman you simply have to race at Le Mans. And you want to win. Your family is watching at the track, your friends are there supporting you. This makes it hugely motivating to achieve everything you’ve set out to do. As a child I dreamed of Porsche. I launched my racing career with Porsche. If I could now win Le Mans with Porsche, well that would just be the best thing in the world. But first we have to face 24 gruelling hours where pretty much anything can happen.”

Richard Lietz (#92):

“I have many wonderful memories of Le Mans, especially my wins in 2007, 2010 and 2013. It’s the greatest race in the world. I love it. If I couldn’t be here as a driver, I’d buy a ticket and watch the race as a spectator. Earlier, only victory in Le Mans counted. Since 2013, it has become part of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship which means that if you can’t win then you have to make sure you bring home as many points as possible. The connection between Porsche and Le Mans is pure racing fascination. Getting the chance to compete at Le Mans for Porsche, the most successful manufacturer in the history of this race, is motivation enough. You automatically do your absolute best to win.”

Patrick Long (#77):

“Le Mans is always a huge challenge. Everyone wants to win, regardless of the category they’re contesting. I’m really looking forward to racing with Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster and helping the whole team to fulfil their dreams at Le Mans. Last year we narrowly missed out on a podium spot. This time we’re determined to make it.”

SOURCE:

Communication Porsche AG
Motorsport Press

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Porsche teams conduct successful Le Mans test, Sports Car WEC, test day Le Mans 24 Hours, France, GT

 

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Stuttgart. At the traditional test day on the Circuit des 24 Heures on Sunday, teams and drivers entered the last and decisive preparation phase leading up to the Le Mans 24 Hours. The legendary long distance classic will be run on 14/15 June as round three of the Sports Car World Championship (WEC). Porsche Team Manthey’s two Porsche 911 RSR, which scored a double class win at their first Le Mans outing last year in the GTE Pro class, concluded a testing programme without any technical problems in dry and partly sunny conditions.

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy

The three Porsche customer outfits Dempsey Racing-Proton, IMSA Performance Matmut, and Prospeed Competition, also used the test day to set up their cars for the challenging 13.629 kilometre circuit. They are contesting the GTE Am class. The Le Mans 24 Hours runs for the 82nd time this year and is regarded as the highlight of the season.

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Porsche factory pilots Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France), and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) took the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR through its paces. Their works driver colleagues Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France), and Richard Lietz (Austria), who celebrated his third Le Mans victory last year, shared driving duties in the second 911 with starting number 92 run by the Porsche Team Manthey squad. The team entrust the two factory-911 to the same driver line-ups for the race.

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport:

“Basically our drivers are happy with the handling of the 911 RSR. Now we’ll focus on preparing for the race. Unfortunately Joerg Bergmeister had to make a brief excursion into the gravel trap and slightly damaged the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR when he avoided another car. It didn’t make sense to do the repairs here. We’ll take a good look at it when we get home, after all, we want to drive this car in a fortnight at the 24 hour race. I don’t think all the manufacturers laid their cards on the table today, so as to avoid risking being penalised. It would have been better to find a regulation where you don’t have to be afraid of being punished for a good performance, like what happened after our double victory at the season-opener at Silverstone. The current situation doesn’t do a season highlight like the 24 Hours of Le Mans justice.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Joerg Bergmeister

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Joerg Bergmeister

Joerg Bergmeister (#91):

“Basically a test day is to gain as much information as possible. Unfortunately I missed the braking point in the Ford curve and actually wanted to drive straight ahead through the gravel trap to avoid hitting the kerbs at the edge. But the car took off, flew far and landed hard. For this reason, the afternoon session fell flat.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: (l-r) Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: (l-r) Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki

Patrick Pilet (#91):

“It’s always wonderful to be back in Le Mans. It’s my all-time favourite track. And today I immediately felt great here. Our car has a great set-up and I’m certain that we’ll tackle the race well prepared.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Nick Tandy

Nick Tandy (#91):

“This test in particular is always a good chance to see how the car handles on this rather unique track. Towards the end of the morning session we began to change certain things on the set-up. It’s important on such a day to make the best use of the little time you have. I’m sure we’ve done this today.”

Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer

Porsche Team Manthey: Marco Holzer

Marco Holzer (#92):

“I didn’t contest Le Mans last year so it felt great to turn some laps on this fantastic circuit again. This morning we had a lot of dirt on the track which gave very little grip, but over the course of the day the conditions improved. Today it was all about exploring how our tyres behave on this very special circuit and how the grip level changes. We managed to do what we had planned and we can now head to the race feeling quite confident.”

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Richard Lietz,  Frederic Makowiecki

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Team Manthey: Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki

Frédéric Makowiecki (#92):

“We tried out several things on the car, but the many safety car phases, which were intended as a practice for the race, made this somewhat difficult. Still, this test day was a good preparation for the race. We learned a lot and I hope that we can use what we’ve learned in two weeks.”

Porsche Team Manthey: Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Olaf Manthey

Porsche Team Manthey: Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Olaf Manthey

Richard Lietz (#92):

“The test day ran well and we made the best use out of it. First and foremost it was about seeing how the tyres and the car worked together on a circuit that at times runs on a normal country road. I feel we’ve made progress and I’m looking forward to the race.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is contested on 14/15 June as round three of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC on the Circuit 24 Heures in Le Mans/France. Double points towards the championship are awarded for drivers, teams and manufacturers.

Dempsey racing Proton: Patrick Dempsey

Dempsey racing Proton: Patrick Dempsey

Dempsey racing Proton: Patrick Dempsey

Dempsey racing Proton: Patrick Dempsey

Dempsey racing Proton: Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster

Dempsey racing Proton: Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster

Source: Communication Porsche AG, Motorsport Press

 

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PORSCHE MOTORSPORTS: Nürburgring 24 hour race – Smooth first qualifying for Porsche teams

 

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Stuttgart. The Porsche teams are in a good position for Friday’s final qualifying for the 24 hour race.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing: Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr

With the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Manthey Racing, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) together with Lucas Luhr (Switzerland) posted sixth place. The quartet won the 24 hour race four times straight from 2006 to 2009.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing: Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing: Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing: Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing: Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr

The seventh quickest time was claimed by Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany), Peter Dumbreck (Great Britain), Martin Ragginger (Austria) and Sebastian Asch (Germany) in the 911 GT3 R of Falken Motorsport.

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Falken Motorsports: Wolf Henzler, Peter Dumbreck, Martin Ragginger, Sebastian Asch

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Falken Motorsports: Wolf Henzler, Peter Dumbreck, Martin Ragginger, Sebastian Asch

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Falken Motorsports: Wolf Henzler, Peter Dumbreck, Martin Ragginger, Sebastian Asch

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Falken Motorsports: Sebastian Asch, Martin Ragginger

Richard Westbrook (Great Britain), Christian Menzel (Germany), Mike Stursberg (Germany) and Hans Guido Riegel (Germany) planted their Haribo Team Manthey 911 GT3 R on the tenth grid spot.

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Haribo Team Manthey: Richard Westbrook, Christian Menzel, Mike Stursberg, Hans-Guido Riegel

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Haribo Team Manthey: Richard Westbrook, Christian Menzel, Mike Stursberg, Hans-Guido Riegel

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Haribo Team Manthey: Richard Westbrook, Christian Menzel, Mike Stursberg, Hans-Guido Riegel

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Haribo Team Manthey: Richard Westbrook, Christian Menzel, Mike Stursberg, Hans-Guido Riegel

Fielded by Porsche Team Manthey, the further-developed Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid (Version 2.0) with its innovative hybrid drive was not able to match the pace of the fastest vehicles after its performance was capped recently by the organizers.

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey: Jörg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Patrick Long

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey: Jörg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Patrick Long

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey: Jörg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Patrick Long

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey: Jörg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Patrick Long

Moreover, Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) had to contend with heavy traffic during his fastest lap and only managed 18th. He shares the cockpit of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid with his factory pilot colleagues Richard Lietz (Austria), Marco Holzer (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA).

The second and final qualifying takes place on Friday from 16.55 to 18.55 hours.

The 24 hour race gets underway on Saturday at 16.00 hours. Television station Sport1 intermittently broadcasts more than 13 hours of the race live on Saturday (from 15.45 hours) and Sunday (from 07.00 hrs). A one-hour highlight program of the race is televised on Sunday at 22.30 hours.

Quotes from the drivers

Marc Lieb (No. 18, Manthey Racing):

Marc Lieb

“We changed the set-up of our car during the qualifying and turned the fastest lap 40 minutes before the end. Now we’re happy with everything. If it stays dry for tomorrow’s final qualifying session we’ll attack again.”

Joerg Bergmeister (No. 9, Porsche Team Manthey):

Joerg Bergmeister

“We didn’t really expect to actually do well. We could have been a bit faster but the heavy traffic prevented a better time.”

Wolf Henzler (No. 44, Falken Motorsports):

Wolf Henzler

“We’re satisfied with our set-up. The track conditions were very good with loads of grip. Martin Ragginger went out first and set our best time. Still, we’re more than eight seconds shy of the quickest vehicle.”

Richard Lietz (No. 9, Porsche Team Manthey):

Richard Lietz

“The lengthy qualifying today was a good chance to familiarize myself with the car and to get a good feeling for driving at the limit. The character of our rolling race lab is somewhat different to the 911 GT3 RSR that I drove in Le Mans two weeks ago.”

(Marco Holzer No. 9, Porsche Team Manthey):

Marco Holzer

“I got four yellow flags while I was out on the track. It’s not easy to get a free lap. We worked some more on our race set-up and tried to bring the tyres up to the optimal temperature. Driving on the Nordschleife at night is exhausting, you first have to get back the feeling for it.”

Patrick Long (No. 9, Porsche Team Manthey):

Patrick Long

“Yesterday I drove in the rain for the first time on the Nordschleife and that is something quite special. Our car is well balanced and I’m very happy about that. Regardless of whether it rains during the race or stays dry, I’m feeling well prepared.”

Result 1st Qualifying

1. Farnbacher/Simonsen/Seefried/Melo (D/MC/D/I, Ferrari F 458, 8:23.764 minutes
2. Heyer/Jäger/Bleekemolen/Seyffarth (D/D/NL/D), Mercedes-Benz SLS, + 6.617 seconds
3. Mamerow/Hahne/Kaffer (D/D/CH), Mercedes-Benz SLS, + 7,193
4. Ekström/Scheider/Werner/Abt (S/D/D/D), Audi R8 LMS, + 7,772
5. Roloff/Rehfeld/Haupt/Schelp (D/D/D/D), Mercedes-Benz SLS, + 7,780
6. Lieb/Luhr/Bernhard/Dumas (D/CH/D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 8,315
7. Henzler/Dumbreck/Ragginger/Asch (D/GB/A/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 8,485
10. Westbrook/Menzel/Stursberg/Riegel (GB/D/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 11,097
13. Lieb/Bernhard/Dumas/Luhr (D/D/F/CH), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 11,918
14. Bergmeister/Lietz/Holzer/Long (D/A/D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, + 12,090

Source: Porsche AG Media database

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Motor and Sports Press

 

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