A legend celebrates its birthday: 90 years ago the 24 Hours of Le Mans was contested for the first time: From a bold idea, the most famous endurance race in the world was born and it turned into the greatest challenge motorsport has to offer. On 22/23 June, aside from the Porsche AG Team Manthey squad fielding two Porsche 911 RSR on the 13.629 kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures, a number of Porsche customer teams from Europe and the USA are again at the start. With 16 overall and 98 class wins, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Le Mans 24 hour race.
The Porsche drivers
In the race which also counts as round three of the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC with double the points up for grabs, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France) and Timo Bernhard (Germany) go for GTE-Pro class honours in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. Sharing the cockpit of the #92 car are their factory pilot colleagues Marc Lieb (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Romain Dumas (France). In the GTE-Am class, customer teams compete with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from last year, including IMSA Performance Matmut, which finished second in 2012. Driving for this team is Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay, who as the winner of the 2012 International Cup Scholarship receives support from Porsche in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Returning to the action is Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey (“Grey’s Anatomy”). Joining forces with the American in the Dempsey Del Piero Proton squad is his compatriot and Porsche works driver Patrick Long. As the eighth Porsche works driver in Le Mans, Wolf Henzler (Germany) belongs to the line-up in the second 911 of IMSA Performance Matmut.
The 470 hp Porsche 911 RSR is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. As the successor to the winning 911 GT3 RSR, with which Porsche customers scored many victories and title wins since 2004, it is characterised by consequent lightweight design and sophisticated aerodynamics. The look is dominated by the flared mudguards. The exceptional vehicle styling honours the anniversary “50 years of the 911”.
Free practice is held on Wednesday, 19 June, from 16.00 to 20.00 hours, followed by the first qualifying from 22.00 hrs to midnight. Two more qualifying sessions follow on Thursday, 20 June, from 19.00 to 21.00 hrs and from 22.00 hrs to midnight. The start flag for the 24 hour pursuit drops on Saturday, 22 June, at 15.00 hours.
Eurosport International and Eurosport 2 alternately broadcast the complete race live. The last two hours of free practice as well as the three qualifying sessions and the warm-up are also televised live. Also aired during the week are various programmes with news, interviews, portraits and background reports. The race can be viewed live on the internet under www.fiawec.com.
mut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “For our teams and drivers Le Mans is an extraordinary challenge for which we have always prepared very carefully. We would have preferred a little more time to test specifically for dry conditions, but we are quite happy with the results we have achieved at the preliminary test at the Circuit des 24 Heures. This is especially true for the performance of the 911 RSR. Since the WEC races in Silverstone and Spa we have made good progress.”
Joerg Bergmeister (# 91): “Le Mans is the highlight of my season. This race has a very special feel and it’s always great fun. In particular I like the extremely fast corners. We have prepared well and I hope that we can get the full potential out of our car. Then a podium result should be possible.”
Patrick Pilet (# 91): “As a Frenchman Le Mans is the most important race ever. I love the track and I look forward to driving the new car there. Le Mans is one of the most difficult races. You can only succeed here when you are one hundred percent prepared.”
Timo Bernhard (# 91): “Le Mans is a magical place for any race driver. Even when you walk into the paddock you sense the incredible history. The Circuit des 24 Heures is also something very special - the extraordinary combination of track and road. There is no other race where as a driver you stand at the centre of attention for the whole week. Le Mans is our Wimbledon.”
Marc Lieb (# 92): “Le Mans is the most important race of the year and it’s an absolute highlight for us and our new car. We are very well prepared and we’ll do everything we can to finish as far up the front as possible after a tough 24 hours.”
Richard Lietz (# 92): “Our aim in Le Mans is a podium spot. We’ve all worked very hard for this. Our new car works and the entire team is truly motivated. There are many factors at play in a 24 hour race and that makes anything possible. Nothing else can compare to being successful in Le Mans.”
Romain Dumas (# 92): “I went to school at Le Mans and I sat my driver’s licence there. I have a lot of very nice memories of this city and this race. I drove my very first race in Le Mans with Porsche in 2001. Back then it rained for 20 hours and we came second in the GT class. Now I’m determined to win this race again with a GT car. That’s my big goal this year.”
Wolf Henzler (#67): “To race in Le Mans with new teammates will certainly not be easy. But I can’t wait. It’s a fantastic race.”
Patrick Long (#77): “The whole world knows about this race. For this reason alone, Le Mans is always a great challenge, no matter what class you are racing in.”