The Porsche LMP Team is pleased with its performance in Monza. The so-called “Prologue” with 27 cars present, saw the public debut of both the new 919 Hybrid of the world championship title defender Porsche as well as the new Toyota TS050 Hybrid. Both manufacturers ran two cars. The 2017 duel of the two class 1 prototypes is eagerly awaited, especially at the Le Mans 24-Hours as the season’s highlight.
At the Prologue, Toyota set the overall best lap time. Neel Jani (CH) recorded the fastest lap for a Porsche 919 Hybrid on Saturday when lapping the 5.793 kilometre long track in 1:31.666 minutes. The reigning world champion shares the 919 Hybrid with Porsche’s newcomer André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) who returned to the LMP1 squad inside the Porsche family. Together the trio of the number 1 car covered 331 laps (1,906 kilometres) in two days.
At the wheel of the number 2 Porsche it was Earl Bamber (NZ) who set the fastest lap in 1:31.823 minutes. Just like for the sister car, this was achieved during a qualifying simulation on Saturday evening. Bamber took over Mark Webber’s seat and teams up with Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ). The number 2 car crew completed a total of 329 laps (1,894 km) during the Prologue in Monza.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: „Thanks to a great team effort, we look back not only on a pretty tough week but also on a very successful one. In Paul Ricard, we have concluded one of the best endurance tests ever. This was followed by the car unveiling in Monza which resulted in very positive feedback for the car’s new livery. The two test days at the Prologue were excellent and given the close competition spectators can look forward to a thrilling world championship.“
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We had split the Prologue into two test phases. On Saturday we focussed on the car’s set-up and managed to improve it. The rain in the evening was an asset because we could practice quick turnarounds in changing conditions. On Sunday we did race simulations with both cars to investigate tyre wear and exercise race-specific routines like pit stops. To meet Toyota for the first time with us and them driving low downforce aero configurations like you’d have in Le Mans was obviously very interesting for both of us. Testing doesn’t allow for proper judgement, but certainly we will see very close competition in every type of track condition. For us as a team it is very important to feel absolutely ready now for the season’s curtain raiser on April 16 in Silverstone.”
Drivers car number 1:
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): “Practically we have been simulating a race weekend here and this worked out very well, especially as we had to deal with various track conditions. I enjoyed having the Prologue here in Monza. The circuit has a great tradition and special atmosphere and we had lots of fun with the many fans joining us. Another beneficial aspect is that this track doesn’t forgive any mistakes. This gives you an extra thrill.”
Drivers car number 2
Earl Bamber (26, New Zealand): „The guys at Porsche have done great development work to the 919. During the Prologue here in Monza, we have learnt a lot again about the car, especially when driving in difficult conditions. During the Saturday night session we had a thunder storm and it’s very useful to get track time in the rain.”
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The Porsche GT Team is well prepared for the first race of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC in Silverstone on 16 April. At the final rehearsal for the start of the season – the official Prologue in the Autodromo Nazionale Monza – the two new Porsche 911 RSR successfully completed a comprehensive test schedule over the weekend. The 911 RSR with the starting number 91, shared by Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki, covered a total of 1.292 kilometres. Their team colleagues Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) completed 1.280 kilometres.
The Grand Prix circuit in Lombardy not only offered the ideal conditions to work on the tyres and the setup, but also threw changing weather conditions at the 27 teams: The cars faced sunshine and rain with the corresponding temperature fluctuations.
The 911 RSR, with which Porsche returns to the WEC this season with a factory team, successfully completed the Prologue without any significant problems. They delivered a strong performance on the storied racetrack, on which Porsche once celebrated many great victories at the famous 1,000-kilometre races. In four of the five practice sessions, Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre posted the best time in the GTE-Pro class. Their team colleagues Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz set second place two times. The Porsche customer teams campaigning the 911 RSR in the GTE-Am class also did well. Gulf Racing with the all-British driver lineup of Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker and Nicholas Foster as well as Dempsey Proton Racing with Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Christian Ried (Germany) and Marvin Dienst (Germany), also clocked the top times.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “The dress rehearsal for the season-opener at Silverstone was a success. We were able to complete our test programme exactly as we’d anticipated, turning more laps than any other competitor. It was important for us that we were able to prepare for all possible racing situations here. And this worked well. The performance of the 911 RSR is hard to gauge, however the feedback from the drivers was very positive. They’re all pleased with how the car handles. We want to take this good momentum with us to Silverstone. It will definitely be exciting there.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “Our goal for this Prologue was to generally prepare the driver, car and team for the start of the season in Silverstone. We were able to implement our schedule as planned. During the second session on Sunday we focussed on worked specifically on preparing for that first race. We concentrated on important issues such as trying out double stints on one set of tyres. In this regard, too, we were able to gain new insights. The pit stops also ran very well. We’re already looking good as a team. We’ll do the final touches in the free practice at Silverstone. We’re ready for the first race.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91): “This was a very important test for us. Every team was in racing mode. We tried several different setups for Silverstone and these worked well. Monza was also an ideal opportunity to integrate the many new team members into the squad. Now we look forward to our return as a works team to the WEC and we can hardly wait until the season finally begins at Silverstone.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “Monza was a very good test for us. We learned a great deal, for instance, about the balance of our 911 RSR. We are pretty much already in the racing rhythm for Silverstone. Everything ran very well here, so we really should be strong at the season-opening round, as well.”
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