24h Le Mans
11/01/2019 - 12:01

Porsche 1948-2018 (9) - 2018

As Porsche’s 70th-anniversary year draws to an end, we celebrate the magnificent exhibition currently at the 24 Hours of Le Mans museum (until 24 February 2019) with a series about the emblematic marque. In part nine, we look at 2018 and the celebration at Le Mans with the most iconic Porsche: the 911.
Porsche 1948-2018 (9) - 2018

In the collective memory, Porsche is above all one silhouette, timeless since its first appearance at the 1963 International Motor Show Germany in Frankfurt: the 911. Technically, it represented the ultimate evolution of a design created back in 1938 with the prototype of the future Volkswagen "Beetle," followed by the Porsche 356 with its air-cooled engine located behind the rear axle.

Across more than five decades, the 911 so well encapsulated the spirit and image of Porsche that its visual characteristics (namely the front of the car), were given to the Boxster and Cayman coupes, the Panamera sedan and even the Cayenne and Macan SUVs!

For 20 years, the 911 has been at the forefront of every major Porsche celebration at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1998, for the marque's 50th anniversary, the GT1 version scored a stunning one-two overall. In 2013, for the car's own 50th, the 911 won both GT classes. In addition to a one-two in LMGTE Pro, the 911 fielded by French team Imsa Performance Matmut gave Porsche its 100th win at Le Mans, all classes considered. In 2018, for the German manufacturer's 70th anniversary, the emblematic model came through once again.

For the milestone, two factory 911 RSRs are competing in the entire 2018-2019 World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) Super Season in the LMGTE Pro class with two historic liveries: the #91 of Gianmaria Bruni-Richard Lietz-Frédéric Makowiecki evokes the factory 956 and 962 C prototype winners at the 24 Hours in 1982, 1983, 1986 and 1987. In all pink, the #92 of Michael Christensen-Kévin Estre-Laurens Vanthoor has borrowed the livery of the 1971 917/20 with dotted lines marking the various meat sections on a pig (the main ingredient in a local delicacy, rillettes).

The latter won the LMGTE Pro class ahead of the #91, a victory that served as a wonderful nod to the history of a livery now part of the legend of the 24 Hours. After an exciting battle early in the race (when there were sometimes as many as 10 cars within the same second), Estre-Christensen-Vanthoor took definitive control after a little more than three and a half hours.

The LMGTE Am class was claimed by Dempsey-Proton Racing, a great triumph for driver/actor Patrick Dempsey (four participations between 2009 and 2015, three with the 911). Already second in the class as a driver in 2015, last year he won at the 24 Hours as a team owner. His drivers - Julien Andlauer, Matt Campbell and Christian Ried at the wheel of the #77 Porsche 911 RSR - were in the lead pack two hours into the race and took the helm for good during the night.

Thanks to the victory for Patrick Dempsey and his partner Proton Competition (a renowned 911 specialist), Julien Andlauer made history at the 24 Hours as a rookie: born on 5 July 1999, the Frenchman became the youngest driver to win Le Mans, all classes considered.

The two winning 911 RSRs experienced no technical problems, surpassing the symbolic cap of 300 laps led: 316 for Christensen-Estre-Vanthoor and 300 for Andlauer-Campbell-Ried, of 344 and 335 laps covered, respectively.

As remarkable as it is timeless, the 911 may still go on to add more titles to Porsche's record. The German marque and its drivers Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen are currently leading in the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) overall provisional standings for manufacturers and GT drivers. Will they clinch more class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Find out Sunday 16 June 2019 when the checkered flag is waved at the 87th edition!

 

PHOTOS - (Top) the two Porsche 911 RSRs that secured a one-two in the LMGTE Pro class for the marque's 70th anniversary, in order the #92 (at left) and the #91. (Below) after the win in LMGTE Pro thanks to Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor (#92), Patrick Dempsey lifted the LMGTE Am trophy won by Julien Andlauer, Matt Campbell and Christian Ried (#77).

BREAKING NEWS: THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS POSTPONED TO 19–20 SEPTEMBER 2020