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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Porsche confident significant steps made with 963 ahead of Le Mans

Porsche is confident that it has made a significant step forward with its 963 LMDh ahead of this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Kévin Estre, André Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Urs Kuratle, project leader on the 963, described last Sunday’s Le Mans test day as “definitely satisfying” after a Porsche was in the top three in the times in both sessions on Sunday.

The first track running of Le Mans week on the full 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe followed a significant test programme since the previous WEC round at Spa at the end of April.

It took in runs at Monza, Paul Ricard and Watkins Glen in the USA, which followed the Porsche Penske Motorsport team’s most recent IMSA SportsCar Championship race at Laguna Seca last month.

“We made a lot of progress through those tests and the one race we did in America,” Kuratle told Motorsport.com.

“We learned a lot and in between the tests were were also on the seven-post rig.”

The Porsche LMDh has struggled with a stability issue under braking, which is exacerbated in low-grip situations.

Kuratle explained that Porsche has “improved a lot in this area” since Spa.

“The drivers will tell you that, but I cannot say we we are completely on top of it. It is still our biggest issue, but we are improving.

#75 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet, Nicholas Tandy, Matt Cambell

#75 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet, Nicholas Tandy, Matt Cambell

Photo by: Paul Foster

“I hope we have turned the corner, but we won’t be able to tell you until the end of the week.

Laurens Vanthoor, who ended up second-fastest at the Test Day to Ferrari driver Antonio Giovinazzi, expressed satisfaction with the car around Le Mans.

“In general if felt good, but we still have work to do,” he said. "We still have things to work on and improve.

“It’s positive to see your name up high on the timing screen and is definitely good for the morale of everyone in the team.”

Vanthoor took second position in the times with a 3m29.648s, which compared with Giovinazzi’s 3m29.504s in the quickest of the Ferrari 499P LMHs.

But Vanthoor recorded a faster time, 3m29.274s, which would have been the best of the day had it not been deleted for a track-limits violation at Tertre Rouge.

Yifei Ye was third-quickest in the morning for the Jota customer Porsche team with a 3m31.447s, which compared with the 3m30.686s with which Antonio Fuoco topped the session.

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