Despite the strong pace seen in practice and setting the fastest time in the all-new ‘Hyperpole’, the Porsche GT Team failed to deliver in the 88th running of the 24 hour endurance race. Just a few laps in it became clear that the latest-generation 911 RSR lacked the top speed needed to match the pace of the competition on the long straights.
The No.92 car seemed to be plagued by bad luck, first suffering an early puncture, then, five hours in, repairs to a power steering fault cost the team more than 10 laps. Further repair work over the following hours widened the gap in the GTE-Pro field to 15 laps and the vehicle ultimately crossed the finish line in sixth place in its class.
Sadly the No. 91 sister car didn’t fare much better and took the flag one position ahead. Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki had managed to maintain contact to the leaders until early Sunday morning, only to have an electrical problem dash all podium dreams.
The competition in the GTE-Am class provided gripping race action to the flag. After a final safety car phase, the field went green again and with just 24 minutes remaining on the clock the Dempsey-Proton Racing No. 77 car, Team Project 1 No.56 car and AF Corse No.83 car became locked in a battle for a podium place. After impressive duels and slipstream battles, Matt Campbell came out on top in the No.77 2019-spec 911 RSR to take second place.
“Our first outing with the Porsche 911 RSR-19 at Le Mans was anything but easy” said Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport after the race. “After achieving pole position, we’d expected more from the race – but we were disappointed. We’ll combine our experiences, draw our conclusions, and return stronger next year. Congratulations to our customer teams Dempsey-Proton Racing, Project 1 and Gulf Racing, who finished in the top five of the GTE-Am class.”
Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC added: “We immediately realised that we couldn’t keep up in terms of acceleration and top speed. These factors are particularly painful because we also lost more and more time in traffic. On top of that, there were too many technical problems. We’ve got a bit of homework to do. We’ll improve the car and our processes and then we’ll be back to attack at the final round in Bahrain.”
In the FIA WEC manufacturers’ classification, Porsche now ranks second after seven of eight rounds. In the drivers’ category, Bruni and Lietz lie fifth, with the defending GTE world champions Christensen and Estre in fourth place. The final round of the 2019-2020 World Endurance Championship season will be held in Bahrain on 14 November.
1. Lynn/Martin/Tincknell (GB/B/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 346 laps
2. Calado/Pier Guidi/Serra (GB/I/BR), Ferrari 488 GTE, 346 laps
3. Sörensen/Thiim/Westbrook (DK/DK/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 343 laps
4. Pla/Bourdais/Gounon (F/F/F), Ferrari 488 GTE, 339 laps
5. Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki (A/I/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 335 laps
6. Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor (DK/F/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 331 laps
DNF. Rigon/Molina/Bird (I/E/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 340 laps n
DNF. MacNeil/Vilander/Segal (USA/FIN/USA), Ferrari 488 GTE, 185 laps
1. Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam (TR/GB/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 339 laps
2. Campbell/Ried/Pera (AUS/D/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 339 laps
3. Collard/Nielsen/Perrodo (F/DK/F), Ferrari 488 GTE, 339 laps
4. Perfetti/ten Voorde/Cairoli (N/NL/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 339 laps
5. Wainwright/Barker/Watson (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 337 laps
10. Inthraphuvasak/Legeret/Andlauer (T/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 331 laps
12. Felbermayr/Beretta/v. Splunteren (A/I/NL), Porsche 911 RSR, 330 laps
14. Keating/Fraga/Bleekemolen (USA/BR/NL), Porsche 911 RSR, 326 laps
16. Brooks/Piguet/Laskaratos (F/F/GR), Porsche 911 RSR, 313 laps
18. Preining/Bastien/de Leener (A/USA/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 238 laps