When heavy rain set in promptly at the start of the second qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the hunt for times on the Circuit des 24 Heures was over before it had really begun. The weather also put a spanner in the works for Porsche AG Team Manthey, which wanted to further hone the set-up of its new Porsche 911 RSR for its first campaign at the world’s most famous long distance race. Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas (France), Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) retained their qualifying time from Wednesday in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR with fifth place in the GTE-Pro class. Their factory pilot colleagues Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) are still the seventh quickest as they head into the third and final qualifying session.
Competitors in the GTE-Am class were also unable to improve on their times posted in the first qualifying session. The best-placed Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the Proton Competition squad with drivers Christian Ried (Germany) and his Italian teammates Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti remains on second place.
Timo Bernhard (# 91): “These were very difficult conditions. I drove an installation lap to check everything, because the engine and gearbox are new for the race. Afterwards I stayed out for another two laps under mixed conditions. The performance was okay, but the times don’t mean very much. So we stopped because it started raining again. Still, it’s important to drive the car under such conditions, after all it might be like this in the race.”
Richard Lietz (# 92): “The conditions towards the start of the qualifying were a bit of a dog’s breakfast. On the first kilometres we had a lot of water on the track making the risk of aquaplaning very high. After the second chicane it was totally dry which wrecked our wet tyres. We can’t learn anything under such mixed conditions. So we waited in the pits for the conditions to improve but in vain unfortunately.”
Patrick Long (#77): “I drove one single lap. It was too wet for slicks and too dry for wet tyres. But that’s Le Mans. The conditions are the same for us all. Now we’re hoping that we’ll get a chance to drive in the final qualifying session.”
Patrick Dempsey (#77): “I drove an installation lap. There is still a lot to do to get our car optimally prepared for the race.”
1. Bell/Makowiecki/Senna (GB/F/BRA), Aston Martin, 3:55.658 minutes
2. Fisichella/Bruni/Malucelli (I/I/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:55.909
3. Dumbreck/Mücke/Turner (GB/D/GB), Aston Martin, 3:56.004
5. Dumas/Lieb/Lietz (F/D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 3:56.457
7. Bergmeister/Bernhard/Pilet (D/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 3:56.573
1. Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen (DK/DK/DK), Aston Martin, 3:58.661 minutes
2. Ried/Roda/Ruberti (D/I/I), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 3:59.246
3. Henzler/Gibon/Milesi (D/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 4:00.053
5. Narrac/Bourret/Vernay (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 4:01.713