919 Hybrid on front row
The two 919 Hybrids will start second and fourth in Le Mans. The field for the top class prototypes produced a tough battle for pole position. Eventful and difficult is how Porsche Team Manthey experienced the third qualifying session.
For car no. 14 (Romain Dumas/Neel Jani/Marc Lieb) it was Romain who achieved the fastest lap time (3min 22.146secs) in the final qualifying session. For car no. 20 (Timo Bernhard/Brendon Hartley/Mark Webber), Timo’s best lap time from the second qualifying session remained its fastest. In the last minutes of the final qualifying, Neel and Brendon were in their respective cars but had no chance of improving because of the ‘so called’ slow-zones for cautions after accidents out on the track.
Wolfgang Hatz, Board member for Research and Development: “The front row in Le Mans has been kind of a secret target, and we have been able to tick it off the list at our first attempt. It is not pole position, but it is totally fine. We knew we would have been fast enough, but in the end we weren’t lucky enough to get a clear lap. Now we will focus on the race and try to avoid mistakes. I am proud of our team and wish everyone all the best.” Also Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1 speaks about a very good qualifying: “I think it’s amazing that we really made it to the front and second rows at Le Mans. This is more than we could expect.”
Difficult qualifying for the Porsche 911 RSR
When the qualifying ended at midnight on Thursday, the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Porsche works drivers Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) only managed to post the sixth quickest time in the GTE-Pro class. The 911 RSR with starting number 91 shared by their factory pilot colleagues Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) heads into the 82nd running of the long distance classic in the Sarthe region on Saturday from seventh place.
With Frédéric Makowiecki at the wheel of the 911 RSR on the 13.629 kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, all chances were lost for a better starting position shortly before the end of the second qualifying session: the winning car from last year was so badly damaged in a collision that the Frenchman could only take up the hunt for top times again in the third qualifying session after a long delay for repairs. By this time, fast laps were no longer possible. Suffering a technical problem, the #91 Porsche 911 RSR rolled to a stop on the finish straight. Since the regulations state that a broken-down car may not be pushed back into the pits, the qualifying came to an early end for Patrick Pilet and his teammates.
Proton Competition set the sixth fastest time in qualifying as the best Porsche customer team in the GTE-Am class. In the #88 911 RSR, Porsche junior Klaus Bachler (Austria) tackles the world’s most famous race with Christian Ried (Germany) and Khaled Al Qubaisi. The 911 RSR campaigned by Dempsey Racing Proton takes up the race on Saturday one position behind, with Porsche works driver Patrick Long and his American compatriots Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster sharing the cockpit.
Normally at the WEC races, two pilots must qualify a car, but in Le Mans only the fastest time of one pilot determines the starting position for the race.