Le MANS, FRANCE – Dempsey Del Piero Racing and its team of All-American drivers Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long will start tomorrow’s 90th Anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans in seventh place in the competitive GTE-AM class field in the No. 77 Dempsey Del Piero Racing with Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The Dempsey Del Piero team and Long battled for the pole late into Thursday’s final practice and qualifying round in addition to ensuring that Foster met the laps-run requirement at the wheel of the team’s Porsche.
Le Mans regulations require that each driver complete a minimum amount of both day and night laps but weather and on-track circumstances kept Foster from turning much of either in Wednesday’s opening session.
“Last night was a crazy session because part of the track was full dry and part of it was hugely wet with standing water,” Foster said. “I needed to have five laps to qualify at night, like all of the drivers do, both Patricks had qualified on Wednesday, and I was able to get it done last night. It was exciting, we still have a whole car, and I am looking forward to the race.”
The only All-American driver lineup among the race’s 55 entries, Dempsey, Foster and Long have quickly built a global following as #TeamAmerica leading into this weekend’s race.
Dempsey’s return to Le Mans is also being featured in a four-part miniseries premiering Wednesday, August 28 at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on the Velocity network in the United States. “Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans” has been over two years in the making, is affiliated with Discovery, and will be distributed internationally.
The documentary focuses on Dempsey taking his place alongside other iconic Hollywood race car drivers like Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and James Garner as well as the team’s tireless efforts on and off the track in preparing for the return to Le Mans.
Dempsey and Foster are making their second-career Le Mans start after a ninth-place finish in 2009 in a GT2 AF Corse Ferrari F430. Long, the only American factory Porsche driver will be racing in his 10th 24 Hours of Le Mans and has earned GT class victories in 2004 and 2007.
“It’s been relatively low pressure for me this week outside of the pure objectives of performance, both driving and trying to develop a car with very limited dry running time, and even less for Joe and Patrick,” Long said. “I am relaxed, I am in a good place, and I think the GTE-AM class has a much different tempo and set of objectives than the PRO category.”
GTE-AM class regulations generally stipulate that not more than one top-tier professional driver, like Long, can be assigned to an entry. That means the experience levels of the other drivers in some cars can create some competitive uncertainty but that is not the case for the Dempsey Del Piero Racing entry.
“The ‘C’ factor is that most of these cars have at least one very inexperienced driver,” Long said. “We like that our lineup all has experience, has raced here before, and all of us have been on the podium numerous times in races. We don’t have that question mark.
Most entries have two experienced drivers but a lot of cars have a question mark over that third guy and we just don’t have that. That has me in a confident spot.”
The Dempsey Del Piero Racing Le Mans entry is being fielded in a partnership with the experienced and proven Proton Competition racing team from Germany.
The 90th Anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans goes green tomorrow, Saturday, June 22, with live flag-to-flag coverage in the United States on SPEED and SPEED.com.
“It’s always great to be at Le Mans,” Dempsey said. “I always have great support from the fans here and it feels like a home away from home.”
Del Piero Racing