Porsche works driver Brendon Hartley set the fastest lap time of the 67 cars taking part in the pre-test.
Stuttgart - The official pre-test on Sunday in Le Mans was as busy as it was positive for the Porsche Team with its three 919 Hybrids. This day provides the only opportunity to test on the 13.629 kilometre long Circuit de la Sarthe. More than nine kilometres of the track consist of what are normally public roads.
In total, the nine drivers sharing the three cars, which are carrying future technology with their power system of over 1000 HP, completed 124 laps. Porsche works driver Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) set the fastest lap time of the 67 cars taking part in the pre-test. He lapped the circuit in 3:21.061 minutes during a dry period in the afternoon.
As a comparison: In 2014 the fastest 919 driver in qualifying was Romain Dumas (France) with a lap of 3:22.146 minutes, which back then was good enough for P2 on the grid (last year’s pole time: 3.21,789 min/Toyota). Changing weather conditions in the West of France provided the team with challenges regarding set-up work, but also with the opportunity to test on a dry, a damp and a fully wet track.
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Certainly the test programme was somewhat limited because of the changing weather conditions. For reliable tyre evaluation I’m sure all the teams would have wished for a consistently dry track, as tyre wear will be a decisive factor in the race. It was important that all three Porsche 919 Hybrids were running all day. Our new drivers completed their mandatory ten laps to be allowed into the race, and this included Frédéric Makowiecki in the 919 Hybrid.
As far as you can judge from the lap times, we will see very tight competition among the front runners. As expected, everyone was faster compared to 2014. Now it is important to look carefully at the huge amount of data we have gathered today. It was a great team effort to prepare so well for this test day and make the maximum use of it. Also it was another exercise for us to handle three cars.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 17
Timo Bernhard (34, Germany): “We tried to get as much set-up work done as possible in the limited time when the track was dry. In general the car’s balance is significantly improved compared to last year’s Porsche 919 Hybrid. And what is easy to see is that the competition in the group of the fastest prototypes is incredibly tight.“
Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “It feels fantastic to be back in Le Mans and out on track with our red number 17 for the first time. It was a productive start in the morning with testing in the dry, and then it was also good to gather experience in the wet. For the afternoon session we made a big step forward and the pace on the dry track was really good.”
Mark Webber (38, Australia): “It was a very busy test day and it is amazing how much we are still learning in what is our second appearance in Le Mans. We knew we would have some rain today, but still all three of us had time in the car when it was dry. Anyway for me it was very beneficial to drive in the rain as well, because I didn’t have much experience with a wet track here.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 18
Romain Dumas (37, France): “It was a good day because we were able to drive in all kinds of different conditions. Of course, the ever changing track is difficult regarding proper set-up work, but for driving it is really good practice. We can see we are competitive and it is a close competition with the others. Compared to last year, our Porsche 919 Hybrid is a lot more agile. We made good progress when it comes to change of direction.”
Neel Jani (31, Switzerland): “As always the circuit was very dirty and dusty in the beginning, which is normal for a non-permanent race track. It was a nice surprise that it stayed dry for two hours in the morning, as this was more than we could expect and allowed us to instantly get quite a lot of work done. Even if it was only a test we have been faster than in the 2014 qualifying. However, this is also the case for our competition.”
Marc Lieb (34, Germany): “It was a good test. We managed to try a good amount of different things on a dry track. The car also felt good with intermediate tyres, but in changing conditions it is always difficult to judge the details. Sixty-seven cars on the track was heavy traffic. For the race it will be 11 cars less.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 19
Earl Bamber (24, New Zealand): “It was incredible to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid for the first time in Le Mans. It is a beautiful track - one of the best in the world. The speed of the car is incredible and the hybrid system is amazing. With the four-wheel drive system it is a pleasure to drive in the rain - it is like driving in the dry. It was magical to take the Porsche curves for the first time with around 230 km/h. For our crew of car number 19 it is the first time here. We completed a good mileage and are up to speed.”
Nico Hülkenberg (27, Germany): “I enjoyed my first laps here in Le Mans a lot, as it was a really cool experience. The track is outstanding with its really long straights and its great flow. You can get into a good rhythm, and many corner combinations have a great harmony. The section after the Dunlop Bridge is amazing, and the fast Porsche curves are sensational too. Those, though, you hardly get to yourself, as you’ll find slower cars there most of the time. I can still learn a lot here but my first steps have been good fun.“
Nick Tandy (30, Great Britain): “After the wet session in the morning, I enjoyed it a lot to really experience the full potential and power of the 919 Hybrid in the dry. It is absolutely amazing how much grip we have in the braking zone coming off high speed at the end of the straight. However, also in the wet I was impressed with the good amount of grip we had.”