“We made the most out of what was possible”
The first step has been taken with success.
Porsche customer teams from all over Europe and the USA have secured good grid positions after the qualifying sessions for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The fastest Porsche driver, works pilot Marc Lieb (Germany), planted the Felbermayr 911 GT3 RSR on seventh in the GTE Pro class. Lieb competes for last year’s winning team with works drivers Richard Lietz (Austria) and Wolf Henzler (Germany). Four other 2011-spec 911 GT3 RSR are entered in the GTE Pro category. In the GTE Am class, three 911 GT3 RSR from last year take off into the 79th edition of the long distance classic on Saturday at 3:00 PM CET from positions two, three and four.
“We’re satisfied with our preparations and are feeling confident for the race,” said two-time Le Mans winner Marc Lieb. “In the practice sessions, we managed to find a good set-up for our 911 for the challenges of this marathon and the very special, highly demanding race track.”
Richard Lietz, who has also notched up two wins at the world’s toughest automobile race, added: “The handling of our 911 GT3 RSR is neutral and comfortable. This means that the car tends neither towards oversteer nor understeer. This works in favor of Marc, Wolf and I because our driving styles are similar.”
The crew of the #75 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR also finished the qualifying without problems. Porsche factory pilot Marco Holzer (Germany) clinched the ninth grid spot for the ProSpeed Competition squad.
“Today we worked on our race set-up,” said Holzer. “Yes, we were faster yesterday but our car was rather twitchy, and that wouldn’t have been optimal over the race distance. There are a couple of damn fast corners here in Le Mans so you need a car that you can trust. And now we have that car.”
Joining forces with the 22-year-old is Le Mans veteran Marc Goossens (Bel-gium) as well as Le Mans rookie Jaap van Lagen (Netherlands).
A damaged damper and an accident threw the schedule of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Flying Lizard Motorsports into disarray.
“Because of the faulty shock absorber we worked in the wrong direction for a long time during yesterday’s practice session,” explained Porsche works driver Joerg Bergmeister (Germany). “Then we lost time when a competitor spun and I couldn’t avoid him. The repairs were extensive. We decided to forget about turning an extra qualifying lap and instead we concentrated totally on finding a set-up.”
Bergmeister takes up the marathon on Saturday with his works driver colleague Patrick Long (USA) and Germany’s Lucas Luhr from 12th position in the GTE Pro class.
They all worked hard to find an optimal set-up.
Grid position 14 went to Nick Tandy (GB) in the second 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Felbermayr-Proton. The Briton currently leads the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup series as well as the German Carrera Cup, but this marks his first race in Le Mans. His teammates are Abdulaziz Al Faisal from Saudi Arabia and Summit, NJ’s Bryce Miller from the USA. The French IMSA Performance Matmut squad had counted on a better grid position than 16th. Still, after team owner Raymond Narac’s accident during the first free practice, Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet, Narac and Le Mans newcomer Nicolas Armindo (all France) could only begin their set-up work this afternoon and therefore lag be-hind.
In the GTE Am sports car class, Austrian Horst Felbermayr, Jr. qualified the 911 GT3 RSR of Proton Competition on second place. His teammates are Horst Felber-mayr Senior and team owner Christian Ried (Germany). Position three was snatched by Larbre Competition’s all French line-up of Christophe Bourret, Pascal Gibon and Jean-Philippe Belloc. Grid spot four in the GTE Am class went to Americans Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Spencer Pumpelly from the Flying Lizard Motorsports team.
Porsche’s head of motorsport, Hartmut Kristen, praised the teams’ professional preparations for the race. “They all worked hard to find an optimal set-up. Taking the Balance of Performance into account, the teams made the most out of what was possible.”
The race gets the green light at 3:00 PM CET (9:00 AM Eastern) on Saturday, June 11