Interim report 2, FIA World Endurance Championship, Round 4, Le Mans (France)
Porsche 911 RSR on course for podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
After a long night at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Porsche GT Team has an excellent chance to score a podium result. As the sun rose on Sunday morning, the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Kévin Estre, Neel Jani and Michael Christensen was running in third in the GTE-Pro class after 16 hours of racing. The identical No. 91 ca. 515 PS vehicle currently ranks fourth. However, both factory-run cars have lost contact with the leaders. The reason for this is the special regulations for the deployment of safety cars in the endurance classic in France.
Unlike other racing events, when an incident occurs at Le Mans, three safety cars are sent out onto the track at the same time. This is due to the sheer length of the circuit at 13.626 kilometres. As the result, the field is divided into three groups. If drivers are behind the same safety car as the leader, they can regain lost ground. Those who follow the second safety vehicle are immediately disadvantaged through no fault of their own, losing at least 90 seconds. This happened twice to the works team’s two Porsche 911 RSR. Thus, they lost around three minutes to the leaders in the fiercely contested GTE-Pro class.
“The night is over – and it was relatively quiet for our works cars,” concludes Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC. “However, the big issue for us was our bad luck with the safety cars. We ended up in the second group and thus lost a lot of ground on the two leading cars. We’re chasing down the frontrunners and fighting hard. We still have eight hours of racing to go. Our cars are running very well and our pace is strong, so we’re still feeling confident.”
The nine-eleven fielded by the customer team HubAuto Racing, which took up the endurance classic from pole position, ranks fifth in the GTE-Pro class after 16 hours of racing. The WeatherTech Racing squad, however, had to throw in the towel. Early on Sunday morning, the chassis of the No. 79 car was damaged in an accident involving the American Cooper MacNeil. Continuing the race proved impossible. Bad luck also plagued Porsche’s customer teams contesting the GTE-Am category. The two cars fielded by the German team Project 1 and Proton Competition’s No. 99 entry also retired. GR Racing’s 911 is 15 laps behind after extensive repairs. The best-placed Porsche 911 RSR at dawn in the amateur class is the No. 77 car campaigned by Dempsey-Proton Racing, in which the Porsche works driver Matt Campbell from Australia competes. The No. 88 sister car and the vehicle run by Absolute Racing are also within the top ten.
The race on TV, via live-stream and on the Porsche Motorsport microsite
The free-TV broadcaster RTL NITRO televises the entire Le Mans event for the first time after the RTL Group secured the broadcasting rights for the FIA WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The sports channel Eurosport also reports extensively on the 89th edition of the classic. Via their paid apps, the World Endurance Championship WEC and the Le Mans organiser ACO offer a live stream and live timing.
Porsche Motorsport compiles detailed information on the Porsche 911 RSR, the team, the works drivers and the 2021 Le Mans 24-hour race on its website https://media.porsche.com/motorsport. This website provides the latest news and background stories, images and extensive video features for media multipliers.
Drivers’ comments on the race so far
Neel Jani (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “Overall, it’s a rather difficult race for us. We’re trying to establish ourselves in third place for now. Unfortunately, we can’t do much more at the moment. We don’t always have the ideal vehicle balance on our No. 92 car. I hope this will change as the temperature rises throughout the morning. We’re fighting on relentlessly, but we also need a little bit of luck in this year’s race.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “I always have a lot of fun driving at Le Mans at night. The track builds up more and more grip. That suits us. The competition is definitely strong. They have an obvious advantage, especially in the close duels. We can keep up in the slipstream on the long straights, but we can’t get past due to the differences in top speeds. We have to be patient.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “After my second triple-stint in this race, I need a bit of a rest now. After a somewhat mediocre start, things are going very well for us now. We’re slowly but surely making up some ground again. The night was eventful. There were many incidents, plenty of yellow flags and several safety car phases. The competition at the top of our GTE-Am class is very strong. We can only try to continue to get the most out of our car. Let’s see what comes of it at the end.”
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