Le Mans GTE Preview: Porsche
Le Mans GTE Preview: Porsche
Above photo courtesy Porsche
All 34 cars in the two GTE classes at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will race with Michelin. Michelin Racing USA will take a look at all six manufacturers entered and their lineups.
Here is a look at Porsche, which again has 10 cars entered. There are the four factory cars in GTE-Pro, and six customer entries in GTE-Am. Porsche won in both GT classes last year.
Quick overview: Porsche’s domination of GTE-Pro this FIA WEC “Super Season” has been pronounced for more than a year. Porsche secured the FIA WEC GTE-Pro Manufacturer’s Championship last race at Sebring, and now seeks a second Le Mans sweep of both GTE classes within the same season. The driver’s titles remain on the line in both classes, and leading drivers Kevin Estre/Michael Christensen (GTE-Pro) and Joerg Bergmeister/Patrick Lindsey/Egidio Perfetti (GTE-Am) hope to retain their leads and secure those titles in this race.
Changes from 2018: There are some slight livery adjustments. The two WEC-entered GTE-Pro cars see gold replace the red to highlight its Manufacturer’s Championship. Meanwhile, the two IMSA-entered GTE-Pro cars run the Brumos Racing historic liveries from Daytona and Sebring. Porsche’s GTE-Pro cars will run slightly heavier at least to start. Three of the four GTE-Pro lineups remain unchanged, while the fourth car brings in Porsche Young Professionals Mathieu Jaminet and Dennis Olsen alongside Sven Mueller.
There are a handful of driver tweaks among customer teams racing in the GTE-Am class. Most noteworthy from a North American standpoint is American Patrick Long racing alongside longtime co-drivers Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson. The latter two will race together for their record-extending 14th consecutive year. The Project 1 Porsche features a striking “Art Car” livery (below).
Test day recap: Ending fifth, sixth, 12th and 13th wasn’t representative of the potential Porsche could show when race week happens. More importantly, the four factory cars ran more than 300 trouble-free laps with the six GTE-Am cars running more than 400 laps. Gulf Racing posted the fastest GTE-Am time to end sixth in class, behind five Ferraris.
Quotes of note:
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport: “For the test day we had an extensive to-do list. We divided up the work on our four cars and managed to tick off all the tasks as planned. The focus wasn’t on simulating qualification conditions, but on preparing for the 24-hour race. We have a bunch of new drivers in our customer teams who were impressively quick in familiarizing themselves with the Porsche 911 RSR. It’s a pleasure to see so many strong drivers sharing the ten cars.”
Nick Tandy: “The impressions from the test are somewhat difficult to gauge. The dirty track offered very little grip throughout the morning. In the afternoon the temperatures were unusually high – much higher than we expect for the race weekend. Our car is fully developed, the setup is good. Now we just have to wait for the first sessions in just under two weeks where we can make realistic conclusions about the balance of power.”
91 Gianmaria Bruni/Richard Lietz/Fred Makowiecki, Porsche GT Team
92 Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre/Laurens Vanthoor, Porsche GT Team
93 Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy/Earl Bamber, Porsche GT Team
94 Sven Mueller/Mathieu Jaminet/Dennis Olsen, Porsche GT Team
56 Joerg Bergmeister/Patrick Lindsey/Egidio Perfetti, Team Project 1
77 Christian Ried/Matt Campbell/Julian Andlauer, Dempsey Proton Racing
88 Matteo Cairoli/Giorgio Roda/Satoshi Hoshino, Dempsey Proton Racing
86 Michael Wainwright/Ben Barker/Thomas Preining, Gulf Racing
78 Louis Prette/Philippe Prette/Vincent Abril, Proton Competition
99 Patrick Long/Nic Jonsson/Tracy Krohn, Dempsey Proton Racing
2018 GTE-PRO RESULTS
91 Gianmaria Bruni/Richard Lietz/Fred Makowiecki, Porsche GT Team, 2nd GTE Pro
92 Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre/Laurens Vanthoor, Porsche GT Team, 1st GTE Pro
93 Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy/Earl Bamber, Porsche GT Team, 10th GTE Pro
94 Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Sven Mueller, Porsche GT Team, 17th GTE Pro