When Porsche announced its withdrawal from LMP1 last year, it promised to reinforce its GT involvement. The German manufacturer kept its word. This year, four works cars will take on Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Ford in the LMGTE Pro class. This is the highest number of Porsche works entries in GT in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In LMGTE Am, four privateers are fielding a total of six cars. A strong contingent with a common goal: winning!
The 911 RSRs hardly go unnoticed. Firstly, the characteristic sound of the flat-six naturally-aspirated engine is music to the ears of fans of the iconic German marque. And secondly, two of the four works cars in the LMGTE Pro class sport commemorative liveries. The #92 has a distinctive pink paintwork reminiscent of the famous “Pink Pig” – the Porsche 917 of 1971. It even has sections of the car labelled in butcher-style cuts! The #91 has inherited the colours of a cigarette manufacturer who sponsored Porsche in the eighties.
Twelve works drivers will share the wheel of the four 911 RSRs on the LMGTE Pro grid. Porsche has seconded an array of talented youngsters and established stars to privateer teams. Weissach has high hopes for the up-and-coming Julien Andlauer and Matt Campbell who will appear for Dempsey-Proton Racing. Proton Competition will be boosted by the experience of Patrick Long, while recent recruit Christina Nielsen will take the wheel of the Ebimotors car.
Porsche is focused on just one aim: victory in both classes. “Lots of engineers and technicians who were involved in the LMP1 programme came to help us,” says Patrick Pilet, lining up in the #93. “We had the benefit of some new opinions from people with very different skills and that helped us optimise many details. The more opinions, views and ideas that are shared, the better it is for us.”
With four cars for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, we’ll be able to take risks and adopt different strategies.
Kévin Estre, another of Porsche’s French drivers, has never previously finished the race but intends that to change this year. “Expectations are high both in-house and among our fans. Already in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring [endurance race for GTs and touring cars], we entered more cars than we usually do and it paid off as we won. With four cars for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, we’ll be able to take risks and adopt different strategies. At Weissach, some of the people who worked on the LMP1 programme are there to develop future cars, analyse data and help us move forward.”
Wolfgang Porsche, the marque’s chairman, and Oliver Blume, the CEO, will both be in Le Mans this Saturday. Porsche obviously mean celebrating their 70th anniversary in style. We shall see on Sunday afternoon whether the champagne will continue to flow.
Photo: The #94 Porsche 911 RSR approaching the Porsche Curves.