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Porsche AG Team Manthey: Lieb, Lietz, Dumas

Race report

Porsche AG Team Manthey: Lieb, Lietz, Dumas
FIA World Endurance Championship, round 3, Le Mans 24 Hours/France, Race report
Fierce battle at the top of the GTE-Pro class – Porsche leads the GTE-Am

The Porsche teams have come through the night well at the Le Mans 24 Hours. On Sunday morning at 8.00 hours, with seven hours still to drive on the Circuit des 24 Heures, the Porsche 911 RSR with the starting number 92 lay in second place and fought for the lead of the GTE-Pro class. The #91 Porsche 911 RSR which is also fielded by the Porsche AG Team Manthey squad was in fourth. Defending their lead in the GTE-Am class was the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of the customer team IMSA Performance Matmut.

When rain set in again towards dawn, things became even more hectic in the pit lane of the Circuit des 24 Heures. The strategists at Porsche AG Team Manthey responded immediately and called in the number 92 vehicle shared by Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas (France), Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) to change the tyres. The timing proved perfect – Romain Dumas seized the lead. Only later during the routine brake replacement of his 911 RSR did he fall back again into second place. In the last third of the race, he and his teammates were within striking distance and chasing hard.

In the GTE-Am class a change in the lead occurred that would last. Shortly before midnight three Porsche 911 GT3 RSR had locked out the front spots. At the wheel of the Proton Competition 911, Italian Giancarlo Roda defended the lead. But when he slid off the track and became stuck in the gravel, Raymond Narac grabbed the chance and slipped into first place. The Frenchman shares driving duties in the 911 GT3 RSR of the IMSA Matmut Performance squad with his compatriots Jean-Karl Vernay, who receives support from Porsche in his Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign this season, as well as Christophe Bourret. Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey, who joins forces with his fellow American teammates, Porsche works driver Patrick Long and Joe Foster in the Dempsey Del Piero-Proton team, is currently running in third place.

Driver quotes

Joerg Bergmeister (# 91): “We’re maintaining our speed without any problems. Unfortunately we had a bit of bad luck with safety car phases and now we’re trying the make up for this. The problem is that it will be very, very hard to do this on our own. What’s more, the competition in the GT class in incredibly tough. But let’s see, the race is long and a lot can happen.”
Patrick Pilet (# 91): “Our car was really good, both in the wet and under mixed conditions. Even on slicks we were really quick on the damp track. I almost spun at one point, that was close but it turned out okay. We will keep the pressure on and see what happens.”
Timo Bernhard (# 91): “I drove a good triple stint, but I encountered three safety car phases. I’ve rarely experienced such a thing in Le Mans. There are many rookies competing and it’s particularly difficult for them at night. We are still chipping away at the gap that was created by the very first safety car phase. What we need now is some luck in order to close the gap to the front – like a safety car phase for instance that is in our favour. All three of us are fast and we have our sights set on the podium.”
Marc Lieb (# 92): “I had two safety car phases during my three stints and it’s difficult to maintain concentration. But we’re doing our very best. The car is running very, very well. It’s reliable and the balance is good. We can drive triple stints, we dreamed about it in the weeks leading up to Le Mans but we never thought it would be possible. We are right up there, let’s see, perhaps we have a chance.”
Romain Dumas (# 92): “The conditions were tricky, but when the going gets tough that’s when we shine. When it started to rain the team responded very well and called me in to the pits at the right time to change the tyres. We gained time by doing this and were able to take the lead.”
Wolf Henzler (#67): “We fell back somewhat during the night and then tried to catch up again. So far so good, the car’s running smoothly apart from some slight understeer. Exiting the corners I couldn’t be on the throttle early enough and lost the momentum mainly in the fast corners and exiting the chicanes that I would have needed on the straights. Not a lot has happened in our class, we’re all doing well which is rather unusual. When it started to rain this morning I went out on wet tyres. Only the finish straight and the first chicane were wet so I headed back into the pits after three laps and we switched to slicks. Afterwards I could make up some places.”
Pascal Gibon (#67): “The Porsche was perfect. There were no problems with the car – I only forgot to connect my radio and water bottle which made my first stint a bit difficult.”
Jean-Karl Vernay (#76): “We are going really well in the race. Le Mans is my first 24 hour event. I’m trying to make as few mistakes as possible. Others may have more experience, but I’m fighting hard and doing my best.”
Raymond Narac (#76): “I drove my first stint with Jean-Karl’s tyres but I wasn’t fast enough. I had new tyres for my second stint and the times were good.”
Patrick Long (#77): “I drove a triple stint. Our car is very fast and in perfect condition, our pit stops are good. A podium is possible, but we still have a long way to go.”
Patrick Dempsey (#77): “I was driving consistent laps when a prototype nudged me into a spin and forced me off the track. That cost us a lot of time and the lead. But it doesn’t help to whinge. We’ll keep going and try to have fun.”

Positions after 17 hours

GTE-Pro class
1. Bell/Makowiecki/Senna (GB/F/BRA), Aston Martin, 227 laps
2. Dumas/Lieb/Lietz (F/D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 227
3. Dumbreck/Mücke/Turner (GB/D/GB), Aston Martin, 227
4. Bergmeister/Bernhard/Pilet (D/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 227
5. Fisichella/Bruni/Malucelli (I/I/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 226

GTE-Am class
1. Narrac/Bourret/Vernay (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 221 laps
2. Perazzini/Case/O’Young (I/I/CDN), Ferrari 458 Italia, 220
3. Dempsey/Long/Foster (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 219
4. Gerber/Griffin/Cioci (ZA/IRL/I), Ferrari 458 Italia, 219
6. Henzler/Gibon/Milesi (D/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 217
8. Collard/Perrod/Crubile (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 215
9. Ried/Roda/Ruberti (D/I/I), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 214

All reports on the previous season can be found in our archive.