Dempsey, Foster and Long start seventh in #TeamAmerica Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR in GTE-AM
Dempsey Racing and Proton Competition are the top qualifying GTE-AM class Porsche 911 RSRs for this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and will start Saturday’s 82 edition of the day-long race from the sixth and seventh grid positions when the green flag drops at 9 a.m. EDT/6 a.m. PDT, which is 3 p.m. local time in France.
The #TeamAmerica trio of TV and movie actor Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long will roll off the grid from the seventh GTE-AM starting spot in the No. 77 Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR. They joined their No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR teammates, who start one spot ahead in sixth, as the fastest GTE-AM Porsches in qualifying for this year’s race.
This will be the third time that Dempsey has raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year, Dempsey and Foster joined Long, America’s only Factory Porsche driver, for their best Le Mans result in two appearances in the classic French race. The team led in GTE-AM several times before finishing fourth and return for the second year as the only All-American team of drivers – #TeamAmerica – in the race.
“We are here to win, we want to win this race, and came so close last year,” Dempsey said. “We know we have the opportunity that’s in front of us and it is inspiring to race again as the only all-American lineup. To be part of that history and that legacy, you really want to honor it and give everything you have to this race.”
Long turned the team’s fastest qualifying lap and will start the race for the second year in a row. The No. 77 is a Porsche 991-based car like the one Long races fulltime in the GTLM division of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship but built to GTE-AM specifications.
“It’s a similar car to what I have been driving all year,” Long said. “For Patrick and Joe, a different version, but I think more user friendly than what they are used to, and they both adapted quicker than I think they even expected. This car breeds a lot more confidence for not only the pros but the pro-am drivers. That’s allowed us to focus more on strategy, pit stops and driver changes and not to over analyze or over process their comfort level.”
While the Dempsey Racing-Proton team has its off-track and pit-side preparation down, a dearth of red flags in nearly every practice and qualifying session Wednesday and Thursday cost the entire field some valuable and much-needed track time.
“We have had some big frustrations because of all the red flags,” Foster said. “We did our best to stay on our own program to work through some changes, things to try, or bad ideas to eliminate on our car as best we could, but by the end of Thursday night we were only about halfway through our list that we started Wednesday,” Foster said. “We lost almost an hour and a half on Thursday, a lot of hardware has been broken up but our car is fine, and the most important thing is to have the car working perfectly in the last few hours of the race on Sunday, and that is still going to plan. As long as we stay calm, stick to our own plan and don’t worry about what other people are doing, we will be just fine.”