In the first qualifying session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Wednesday, the best-placed Porsche 911 RSR with the starting number 92 posted the eighth quickest time in the GTE-Pro class.
Sharing the cockpit of the winning racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, are overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France).
The sister works-run 911 RSR (#91), with outright winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) as well as Frenchmen Patrick Pilet and Kévin Estre at the wheel, clocked the tenth fastest time at the first show of strength on the 13.629-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures.
The first qualifying session was driven on a dry track from 22.00 hours to midnight. Two more qualifying sessions follow on Thursday, with the race taking off at 15.00 hours on Saturday.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport:
We were able to complete our programme as planned. The lap times of our cars are in line with our expectations. It’s a shame that Fred was hampered by a slower competitor during his last and very fast lap. I have no explanation for the extreme differences in the times that we’ve seen in this qualifying. But it should give one or two people food for thought.
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #91):
I drove my three mandatory night laps. The car felt really good. I’m happy with the balance. However, we’re lacking a bit of performance compared to some other competitors. It’s quite rare to get a clear run at Le Mans. But all things considered, it was a good session today. Now we have a pretty clear idea of where we stand.
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #91):
We tried to drive a perfect lap today, because we may have rain tomorrow. But our rivals had the same idea which meant that almost everyone was out on the track tonight. This, of course, prevented a faster lap time.
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #91):
Our 911 RSR ran well. We have to do a bit of work on the setup, but I’m feeling quite confident. It was really great for me to drive so many laps at night.
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #92):
My first qualifying with the 911 RSR in Le Mans was good. We managed to improve our car as much as possible and the team is working well together. We’ll be continuing our hard work and will do everything we can so that we can perform well in the race.
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #92):
We didn’t tackle the qualifying on fresh tyres straight away because we wanted to see how that worked. The car also ran well on used rubber. Afterwards we fitted the new Michelin slicks and I was able to drive a slightly better lap time.
Jörg Bergmeister (911 RSR #92):
I turned my night laps without any problems, but I didn’t manage to get any really clear laps.
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #77 Dempsey Proton Racing):
Everything ran smoothly for me. The car drove flawlessly and we’ll proceed exactly as we are with the race preparations. I’m very pleased.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #77 Dempsey Proton Racing):
The traffic is intense, which doesn’t make it easy to put in a fast lap. Also, you have to stick to the racing line because it’s get slippery if you deviate. I’m happy with our performance.
Philipp Eng (911 RSR #77 Dempsey Proton Racing):
In the first two laps I encountered a slow zone, but then luckily I had a relatively good run and was able to get used to the conditions. This was my first time driving in Le Mans at night – it’s a very special experience.
Wolf Henzler (911 RSR #78 KCMG):
It all went very well. We changed the shock absorbers before the qualifying. That proved to be the right decision, even though it didn’t match perfectly with the tyres. I still managed at this time to turn the fastest lap. Afterwards I returned to the pits again and we tried to tweak the fine tuning.
Ben Barker (911 RSR #86 Gulf Racing):
I went out on used tyres and of course couldn’t turn a fast lap. Still, we’re feeling confident that we can make even more progress before the race.
Patrick Long (911 RSR #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing):
We went out early into this qualifying to see if we could squeeze a fast lap in before the traffic got too bad. Afterwards it became too hard to drive really fast with all the other cars on the track. It’s important in Le Mans to first get one safe lap and a time under your belt. I did this. We’re okay with our 911 RSR.
Khaled Al Qubaisi (911 RSR #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing):
You have to be so alert here in the dark when the LMP cars appear from behind. It’s very difficult to estimate the distances. I’m satisfied with this qualifying.
Cooper MacNeil (911 RSR #89 Proton Competition):
It took a while to get my tyres up to temperature. After that things ran smoothly. The handling of the 911 RSR was excellent. I didn’t push hard. There are plenty of other chances to drive fast laps.
Leh Keen (911 RSR #89 Proton Competition):
I’m pleased, but we still have to work on the vehicle setup. We’re learning a great deal here and we had to puzzle many pieces together. But we’ve made progress. I’m looking forward to a great weekend.
Marc Miller (911 RSR #89 Proton Competition):
I went out shortly after the red flag came out and things got rather hectic. We have to do a bit of work on our car’s balance, but when we get that sorted and we collate all the information from today we’re sure to manage a good lap in the second qualifying tomorrow.
Porsche Press Release