• Le Mans Lead-In. Porsche Teams Prepare for World’s Toughest Sports Car Race. • Operation Le Mans. Pilot-Driver Lindsey Flies Fellow Racers from Detroit to Le Mans.
• Porsche at Detroit. Wright Motorsports Features 911 GT3 R in IMSA Weekend. • Legendary Le Mans Livery. Factory Porsche 911 RSR to Race in Historic Design.
Event Story Lines.
Le Mans Lead-In. Porsche Teams Prepare for World’s Toughest Sports Car Race.
On June 16, the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes the traditional start from the French Tri-Color national flag and continues lap-after-lap, hour-after-hour until the checkered flag falls on the LMGTE-Pro and LMGTE-Am class winners 24-hours later. The June 3 official pre-test marked the start of the critical phase for the world’s toughest sports car race. 180 drivers and 60 vehicles will fight for victory at Le Mans. With four of the 510 hp 911 RSR contesting the LMGTE-Pro class, Porsche fields the largest GT factory contingent in the company’s history at the 8.47-mile (13.626-kilometer), 38-turn Circuit des 24 Heures. Four customer squads run an additional six 911 RSR in the LMGTE-Am class. At the test day, fans saw the two works cars with the starting numbers 91 and 92 sporting legendary Porsche Le Mans livery from the 1970s and 1980s for the first time on the track. With 19 overall victories and 105 class wins at Le Mans, Porsche holds the Manufacturer Record for both.
In slightly cloudy conditions and 84-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures, twelve Porsche factory drivers worked on optimizing various setups during the pre-test. Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and the New Zealander Earl Bamber reeled off 567-miles (912.942 kilometers) in the No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR and earned the fastest lap of the test day. Richard Lietz (Austria), Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki covered 643-miles (1034.576 kilometers) in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and clocked the second best time in the GTE-Pro category. Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen from Denmark and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) shared driving duties in the sister car with the starting number 92. In the two, four-hour test sessions, they covered a distance of 584-miles (940.194 kilometers) and turned the seventh best lap time. Timo Bernhard from Germany, Romain Dumas (France) and Sven Müller (Germany) completed 65 laps and 550-miles (885.69 kilometers). They share the cockpit of the No. 94 racer from Weissach and posted the fourteenth best time.
The customer teams of Dempsey Proton Racing, Proton Competition, Team Project 1, Gulf Racing and Ebimotors campaign six additional Porsche 911 RSR in the Pro-Am style GTE-Am class. They, too, used the pre-test to focus on the setup and tires. The driver trio with Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (France), Christian Ried (Germany) and Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia) of Dempsey Proton Racing set the best time in the GTE-Am class with a time of three-minutes, 55.9700-seconds.
The United States is well represented in the Porsche paddock again this June for the “grandfather of all sports car events”. For the first time, the North American branch of the Porsche GT Team will field the Nos. 93 and 94 at La Sarthe. The CORE autosport operated team is fresh off two victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the most recent all-classes race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Christensen, who recently won his first Pirelli World Challenge race for Alegra Motorsports, is co-driving the No. 92 entry at Le Mans with Vanthoor who was part of the Mid-Ohio win for the No. 912 Porsche entry in IMSA.
The No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR is an All-American effort with factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) sharing the Black Swan Racing-backed car with Atlanta, Georgia’s Spencer Pumpelly and Boston’s Timothy Pappas. The trio was sixth quickest in LMGTE-Am. In eleventh-place for the test was Santa Barbara, California’s Patrick Lindsey in his first attempt at Le Mans. The team principal for Park Place Motorsports in the WeatherTech GTD class co-drives the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR with factory driver and IMSA teammate Jörg Bergmeister (Germany). Porsche Selected Driver and IMSA WeatherTech GTD regular in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R Christina Nielsen (Denmark) was fourteenth in the No. 80 Ebimotors Porsche 911 RSR.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, President Motorsport and GT Cars.
“We had a very positive test day. In both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am class the Porsche 911 RSR clocked the fastest time. All up, the ten Porsche 911 RSR completed a total of 613 laps. It’s particularly pleasing that there were no major incidents in the Am class. This shows that all teams are coping well with the car and that’s vital preparation for Le Mans. In the Pro class test you could see that the field is very close and the speeds reached are considerably faster than last year. Everything ran according to plan at the pre-test for the two GT teams.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport.
“The test day was a great practice for the Le Mans race weekend. We used the test sessions intensively to continue our setup work and to get used to the tires and racetrack. Everything went to plan and we experienced no technical hiccups. We didn’t use any tactics but instead drove all-out. It’s not our philosophy to hide things. And besides, you can’t learn anything by doing that.”
Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It was a great feeling to present our beautiful car with its special paintwork on the racetrack at Le Mans for the first time. That makes you very proud. During the tests we ticked off our tasks meticulously and are very pleased. We can now head to the 24 Hours of Le Mans feeling optimistic.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“The Le Mans circuit has improved a lot since last year. It now offers significantly more grip and there’s less debris on the track. We managed to complete our program and we’ve found our rhythm. The 911 RSR ran exceptionally well. The retro design has truly overwhelmed me. I admire all the employees who had the courage and the power to pull this off. As a driver it’s wonderful to climb into such a beautiful car. But at the end of the day it also has to be fast – and it is.”
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It’s great to be back here, especially as a Frenchman. Le Mans is an absolute highlight for almost every race driver. Our RSR was very well balanced. The pre-test is a great chance to see where we stand and to check out what still needs to be done. As always, our plan was to test the real performance and not to strategize.”
Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“The work during the test day was very intensive. We were able gain a lot of data and insights. Unfortunately, I encountered a lot of traffic and caution phases during my stint, so I couldn’t push quite as much as I’d hoped. Our Porsche 911 RSR was good and of course its design attracted a great deal of attention. It feels good to get a lot of encouragement from the fans, but it’s even better when it comes from other race drivers.”
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“The test went very positively. The car ran just as we’d expected. We’re well prepared for the race in 14 days. I’m proud to drive the RSR with the retro design. I really like it. And I also hope we make the team proud at the 24-hour race.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I personally like to do things differently than others. That’s why I think the new design is extremely cool. The test ran well. We managed to collect a lot of valuable data.”
Patrick Pilet, Driver, No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“At the beginning of the tests the track was still very slippery so we had to be a bit careful. But over the course of the day it was very good. We tested at full power. The car’s balance was really great. Due to this I could finally score the fastest lap time.”
Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“We’re contesting the GTE-Pro category with four Porsche 911 RSR this year. You get a lot of data and information from such a test. Our task as a team is to pull it all together and make the most out of it. We’re well on our way. I’m looking forward to the race in two weeks.”
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“For us as a team, and by that I mean us drivers and the mechanics and engineers, the test went very well in getting the procedures right at such a special race. We also worked on the setup and tested the tires.”
Timo Bernhard, Driver, No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“We were repeatedly thrown out of our rhythm by the many slow zones and red flags, especially during the morning session. I’m particularly pleased to share a 911 RSR with Sven Müller and my old friend Romain Dumas.”
Romain Dumas, Driver, No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I travelled straight from the Blancpain GT Series at Le Castellet to Le Mans. We were able to cover many kilometers with the 911 RSR on the track and gain confidence. The conditions for the test were good. The 24-hour race will be a close race, the different teams are not separated by much.”
Sven Müller, Driver, No. 94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Today I turned my first laps at Le Mans in the new Porsche 911 RSR. The track is truly impressive. It’s a fascinating mix of long straights and ultra-fast corners like the Porsche Curves. With Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas I have two very experienced teammates who are already outright winners at Le Mans. Their advice helps me a lot in preparing myself optimally for the race.”
Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
“The test was very difficult for us. We didn’t find the right rhythm. And there were constant interruptions. I hope things run more smoothly in the race.”
Christina Nielsen, Driver, No. 80 Ebimotors Porsche 911 RSR.
“Le Mans 2018 has certainly begun very adventurously. On Saturday I contested an IMSA race in Detroit. Straight afterwards I caught a night flight to France so that I could be on time to jump in the car for the pre-test. In this respect it’s the perfect preparation for night and morning stints in the race when you climb into the cockpit with little sleep.”
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR.
“Today it was very important to figure out a routine for the work procedures at Le Mans. Because of the interruptions in the first session of the day, we had to use the afternoon to work more intensely. We’re well prepared for the big race.”
Operation Le Mans. Pilot-Driver Lindsey Flies Fellow Racers from Detroit to Le Mans.
One week before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a mandatory one-day test occurs in Le Mans, France. The test causes a mad scramble for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers competing in Detroit, Michigan, just two days before the test. With few flight options available to get the drivers into Le Mans on time, most resort to sharing private jet charters. This year, many IMSA drivers relied on one of their own to get them to France.
Patrick Lindsey, driver of the No. 73 Park Place Porsche in the GT Daytona class acted as “Pilot in Command” on a Gulfstream IV. The aircraft is supplied by Mira Vista Aviation, a boutique jet management and charter company owned by Lindsey. Mira Vista specializes in large-cabin private jets capable of national and international travel as well as concierge service during the trip.
Lindsey plays both president and pilot roles when he’s not behind the wheel of his No. 73 Porsche GT3 R or No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche RSR – which he’ll be racing at Le Mans with Porsche Factory Driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Egidio Perfetti (Norway). He was typed as a GIV captain during the 2016 offseason as a strategic business move. Growing his list of pilots allowed his brokers to book more trips; however becoming a pilot had been a childhood dream of Lindsey’s.
His dream worlds collided as Lindsey transported a cabin of IMSA drivers and himself to Le Mans for the mandatory test day. The list of passengers includes fellow Porsche drivers Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen as well as Ben Keating, Renger Van der Zande and other well-known faces.
The flight and day of testing created its own endurance event for the Park Place Motorsports/Project 1 driver with a flight time of seven and a half hours combined with a day of testing in the No. 56 Porsche RSR. Lindsey and his band of IMSA drivers arrived into Airport Le Mans Arnage around 2 p.m. CET.
While his passengers were recovering from their efforts at the Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear, Lindsey quickly recovered from the flight over the Atlantic in time for his first taste of the French track. The 86th running of Le Mans on June 16 – 17 is Lindsey’s first attempt at the endurance event; the test is his first time on the historic street circuit. He sat out the Detroit race as Park Place Motorsports is currently committed to running endurance events this season in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition.
As a Le Mans rookie Lindsey had to turn 10 laps in total at the test day, he completed the goal and then some. Lindsey and Team Project 1 set to work finding the perfect setup to carry them through the twice around the clock race. The team made headway in its efforts, but Lindsey admits there is still work to be done.
Patrick Lindsey, Driver/Team Principal Park Place Motorsports – Driver, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
“Many logistics go into flying just like there are a lot of logistics to racing. Flying private is a huge advantage when we’re talking about the movement schedule between Detroit and the Le Mans test. It allows you to fly into an FBO (Fixed Base Operator) that is directly next to the track and saves you from being in the mercy of the airlines in Detroit. Everyone arrives fresh for a day of testing.
It was a long day but everyone on the flight was really appreciative and we made good time. I helped get the plane together after landing and then headed to the track, which is right next door, you see it when you land. We spent our day figuring out the car setup, we were a little off at the start. Towards the end I think the team started to figure a few things out. I could tell the difference between my first 10 laps and the few I did later in the day. We still have some time to get things sorted before the race. I think we’ll be right where we want to be by qualifying.”
Porsche at Detroit. Wright Motorsports Features 911 GT3 R in IMSA Weekend.
With the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Chevrolet SportsCar Classic featuring only the Prototype and GT Daytona (GTD) classes, the pair of Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Rs were the lone entrants for the German marque in Detroit on June 2. The fourth round of the GTD season saw the two rear-engine customer cars race as high as the top-five on the temporary street circuit laid out on Detroit’s Belle Isle Park. Ultimately, strong driving and pit strategy was not enough with the No. 16 Wright 911 GT3 R shared by Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Michael Schein (New York City, New York) taking ninth-place in class. The No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital 911 GT3 R driven by Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Christina Nielsen (Denmark) finished in 11th-place.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m proud of the team’s effort. Unfortunately, things were pretty uneventful during my stint. I just soldiered on and tried to turn consistent lap times. We were hoping for a yellow. There a was a lot of debris on track and even some larger wildlife so we were hoping it would come, but it just never did. With that, we just kept our noses clean and pushed as hard as we could.”
Christina Nielsen, Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Detroit is normally one of the highlights of the year for me. Unfortunately, the highlight fades when you don’t finish with a good result. I still feel like there were things we learned that will be useful for when we go to the next track, Watkins Glen. But, I’m now focused on the official Le Mans test which takes place on Sunday.”
Mike Schein, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It definitely wasn’t the result we were looking for. I started eighth and struggled a bit with the tires taking time to come up to pressure. I handed the car to Wolf in ninth and we had a little mistake in the driver change, so that set us back. Being a street circuit it’s such a hard place to pass. We certainly had the pace to do so, but unfortunately the circuit doesn’t allow it. At the end of the day, I definitely want to tip my hat to Wright Motorsports. I had a bit of an off in Practice so they had to scramble to get the car ready for qualifying, so a huge thanks to the guys.”
Wolf Henzler, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Looking at the big picture, I would say it was a good race for us. The crew had a great pit stop and Mike had a very strong stint. I think he should be very happy because this was his first time here and he had very limited track time, but got up to speed very quickly. When I got in for my stint, I was ninth when I got stuck behind another car and there was just no way for me to pass. Ninth definitely isn’t what we were hoping for, but there was unfortunately not much more for us this weekend. Thank you to the team for doing a great job.”
Legendary Le Mans Livery. Factory Porsche 911 RSR to Race in Historic Design.
Porsche will field two special Porsche 911 RSR at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The factory-run cars with the starting numbers 91 and 92 will compete sporting traditional Le Mans liveries of the 1970s and 1980s. The No. 91 contender is decked out in the iconic blue-and-white finish with red and gold stripes, reminiscent of the Rothmans sponsor colors of that era. The No. 92 car adopts the famous “Pink Pig” design of the 917/20 from 1971. Porsche unveiled the two 510 hp racers from Weissach, Germany on June 2 at the official test in advance of the 86th-edition of Le Mans 24-hour race on June 16 – 17.
By presenting these special designs, Porsche commemorates its history at the prestigious endurance race in La Sarthe, France during its “70 Years Porsche Sports Cars” anniversary.
The No. 91 911 RSR, driven by Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France), echoes the Rothmans paintwork of various Porsche racecars. An example is the Porsche 959, which won the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally flying the colors. In circuit racing, the Porsche 956 C and the Porsche 962 C celebrated major successes in the livery. Each of these two blue-and-white Group C sports prototypes clinched overall victory twice at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the 956 C in 1982 and 1983; the 962 C at the 1986 and 1987 races.
The finish of the number 92 car, shared by race drivers Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), harks back to the Porsche 917/20 that tackled Le Mans in 1971. This one-of-a-kind racecar was designed to combine the aerodynamic advantages of the short and long-tail versions of the 917 and thereby ensure that the previously untested car would earn the pole position. The 917/20 was dubbed the “Pink Pig” due to its pink paintwork with sections of the car labeled in butcher-style cuts. The idea implemented under the Porsche designer Anatole Lapine caused a stir at the Sarthe. Still today, the 917/20, also known as the “Truffle Hunter”, is one of the most famous Porsche cars ever.
A total of ten Porsche 911 RSR racers will contest this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – four fielded by the factory and six by customer teams. The two permanent vehicles from the FIA/ACO World Endurance Championship (WEC) will lineup on the grid sporting the custom design. The Nos. 93 and 94 “works” cars – entered and campaigned by the North American-based Porsche GT Team – will compete under the familiar white, black and red livery, which from a bird’s eye perspective suggests the emblem of the Porsche brand.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars.
“With these much-loved designs, we want to thank our loyal supporters who have cheered for us both on and off the track at every race, but particularly at Le Mans. With 19 outright victories in our history, we received incredible support every year.”
Porsche Cars North America. @Porsche
Porsche GT Team (North America). @PorscheNARacing
Porsche Motorsport – GT Cars. @PorscheRaces
Porsche Racing. @Porsche_Team
Porsche Motorsport North America @porschecustomerracingna (Instagram)
Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI. #PorscheRennsport
Porsche 911 RSR. #911RSR
Porsche 911 GT3 R. #911GT3R
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. #911Cup
24 Hours of Le Mans #LM24
Series Hashtags and Handles.
GT3 Cup Challenge USA. #GT3USA
GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. #GT3CAN
Pirelli Trophy West USA. @PirelliTrophy (Twitter)
@PirelliTrophyWestUSA (Instagram) Intercontinental GT Challenge. @IntercontGTC
Future Porsche Events.
FIA/ACO World Endurance Championship.
Event: 24 Hours of Le Mans, Circuit de la Sarthe
Dateline: Le Mans, France
Date: Wednesday – Sunday, June 13 – June 17, 2018
Track Length: 8.47-miles, 38-turn
Race Duration: 6-Hours
Class: LMGTE-Pro (Porsche 911 RSR)
LMGTE-Am (Porsche 911 RSR)
Round: 2 of 8
Next Round: Six Hours of Silverstone, Silverstone, Great Britain, Silverstone Circuit, August 18 – 19, 2018
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Event: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Watkins Glen International
Dateline: Watkins Glen, New York
Date: Thursday – Sunday, June 28 – July 1, 2018
Track Length: 3.4-miles, 11-turn
Race Duration: 6-Hours
Class: GTLM (Porsche 911 RSR)
GTD (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
Round: GTLM. 5 of 11
GTD. 5 of 11
Next Round: Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 120, Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, July 8, 2018
IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Event: Continental Tire 240 at The Glen, Watkins Glen International
Dateline: Watkins Glen, New York
Date: Saturday, June 30, 2018
Track Length: 3.4-miles, 11-turn
Race Duration: 4-Hours
Class: GS (Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR)
Round: GS. 4 of 10
Next Round: Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 120, Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, July 7, 2018
IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
Event: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Watkins Glen International
Dateline: Watkins Glen, New York
Date: Thursday – Saturday, June 28 – 30, 2018
Track Length: 3.4-miles, 11-turn
Race Duration: 2, 45-Minute Races
Class: Platinum (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, MY 2017 - 2018)
Gold (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, MY 2015 – 2016)
Round: 7 – 8 of 15
Next Round: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 5 – 6, 2018