Porsche will start their 2019 Le Mans title defence from the fourth grid spot, with former Le Mans winner and honorary Porsche Club GB member Nick Tandy setting the fastest lap time of all Porsche drivers. Tandy clocked a lap time of 3:48.907 in the number 93 car which he shares with Patrick Pilet (France) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand).
Tandy’s fastest time was set in the beginning of the third qualifying session, however his good fortune wasn’t shared by his colleagues in the sister cars who were plagued by bad luck. Multiple caution phases, interruptions to the session and a dirty track surface in the second half of the final run hampered them from turning faster laps.
Speaking after the third qualifying session, Tandy said: “You can’t compare the qualifying at Le Mans with any other race. Most of the time, you have to work on the setup rather than going for fast lap times. At some point you give it a go with little fuel and fresh tyres, but everything has to come together perfectly. This decisive attempt worked better for us than for many of the others. Fourth on the grid isn’t perfect, but it’s totally fine for the start of a 24-hour race.”
The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR, shared by the drivers’ championship leaders Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) with Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor, takes up the race from position seven. Their factory driver colleagues, Gianmaria Bruni from Italy, Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France), will tackle the world’s toughest endurance race from 13th on the grid in the No. 91 car. Works driver Sven Müller (Germany) and the Porsche Young Professionals Mathieu Jaminet from France and Dennis Olsen from Norway head into the race from position 15.
1. Thiim/Sörensen/Turner (DK/DK/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 3:48.000 minutes
2. Priaulx/Tincknell/Bomarito (GB/GB/USA), Ford GT, + 0.112 seconds
3. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (DK/E/D), Corvette C7.R, + 0.830 seconds
4. Pilet/Bamber/Tandy (F/NZ/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.907 seconds
7. Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor (DK/F/B), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.196 seconds
13. Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki (A/I/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.921 seconds
15. Müller/Jaminet/Olsen (D/F/N), Porsche 911 RSR, + 2.278 seconds
In the GTE-Am class, Porsche’s customer teams underlined their strong performance in the first qualifying with five 911 RSR cars in the top six. The No. 88 vehicle fielded by Dempsey Proton Racing takes up the Le Mans 24-hour race from pole position. Posting a time of 3:51.439 minutes, Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) sliced around a second off his top time from the previous day. Cairoli is joined in the cockpit of the 911 campaigned by the German customer squad by his compatriot Giorgio Roda and Satoshi Hoshino from Japan. Just 0.206 seconds behind, Matt Campbell (Australia) planted last year’s winning car with the starting number 77 on the second grid spot.
Porsche Young Professional Thomas Preining (Austria) and Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker from Britain head into the FIA WEC season finale from P3 with Gulf Racing’s No. 86 car. Vincent Abril (France) and the Italian father/son duo Philippe and Louis Prette take up the race in the identical vehicle with the No. 78 from fifth.
The Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Project 1 achieved position six. Works driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) shares driving duties at the wheel of the No. 56 Art Car with Egidio Perfetti (Norway) and the American Patrick Lindsey. The No. 99 Porsche 911 campaigned by Dempsey Proton Racing will not contest this year’s 24-hour race after an accident in free practice on Wednesday.
1. Hoshino/Roda/Cairoli (J/I/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 3:51.439 minutes
2. Campbell/Ried/Andlauer (AUS/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.206 seconds
3. Wainwright/Barker/Preining (GB/GB/A), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.505 seconds
5. Prette/Prette/Abril (I/I/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.995 seconds
6. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti (D/USA/N), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.311 seconds