The Le Mans 24 hour race is legendary and is the greatest challenge that motorsport has to offer. Many Porsche customer teams from Europe and the USA will tackle the 80th running of this long distance classic in the Sarthe department on 16/17 June. Porsche works drivers and double Le Mans class winners Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) will also be racing for points in the new World Endurance Championship with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Felbermayr-Proton. With 16 overall and 98 class victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The Porsche drivers
Two Porsche teams make a bid for victory in the particularly competitive GTE-Pro class: The Felbermayr-Proton squad field the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz and are keen to continue on the recent sterling performances: The outfit took off into the new World Endurance Championship with second place at Sebring and followed up with their first win of the season at Spa. In Le Mans the pair receives back-up from Wolf Henzler (Germany), with whom they won in Le Mans in 2010. Sharing the cockpit of the Flying Lizard Motorsports 911 are Porsche factory pilots Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Long (USA) and Marco Holzer (Germany). In the GTE Am class, where only last year’s vehicles are eligible to start and just one professional driver is permitted per car, Italians Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti join forces with team owner Christian Ried in the second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR run by Felbermayr-Proton to campaign for their second win in the World Endurance Championship. Other squads to contest this class with the 911 are Flying Lizard Motorsports with Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet (France) as one of the pilots as well as the customer teams IMSA Performance Matmut, Prospeed Competition and JWA-AVILA.
Comments before the race
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport:
“Through receiving double points for the World Endurance Championship, Le Mans has gained even more importance – particularly for our customer team Felbermayr-Proton who are contesting the new long distance championship with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. With their GTE Pro class win in Spa, the dress rehearsal for Le Mans went perfectly for our works drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz. The current status of the Balance of Performance in the WEC makes it very difficult for our competitors in this category. Two important rivals have been permitted to compete with much larger restrictors than the 911 GT3 RSR and this gives them a considerable power advantage. Because around 75 percent of a lap is taken at full throttle as well as the long straights in Le Mans, this makes it even more upsetting. Aside from meticulous preparation, we and our customer teams will rely on balanced driver squads, the quality of the mechanics and the reliability of the Porsche 911. The less time spent in the pits, the better the chances are of achieving good results at a 24 hour race. We are well represented internationally in the GTE Am class with five vehicles and an exciting mix of young drivers and seasoned campaigners. This clearly shows that our private teams also support the development of young talent. Le Mans is extremely competitive so the decisive factor is who makes the least mistakes, or better still, none. The real challenge comes during the early morning hours on Sunday and it is crucial not to have suffered any setbacks by midday.”
“Racing in Le Mans is the best. Even when we drivers are totally focused on our job, you are still grabbed by the fascination of this extraordinary race. This year it’s not just about prestige but more about earning points towards the World Endurance Championship. And just like in Spa recently, we will have to fight hard from start to finish.”
“A win in Spa is of course greatly motivating, but Le Mans is still a totally different kettle of fish. A place on the podium would be nice, but it’ll be very, very hard to achieve. On the other hand, anything is possible at a 24 hour race where reliability is especially important.”
“I’m really looking forward to racing with Marc and Richard again in Le Mans. After all, we won this fantastic race together back in 2010. Our main goal this year is to bring as many points home as possible for the Felbermayr-Proton team and Porsche towards the World Endurance Championship.”
“Le Mans is the greatest race of the year. It’s a fabulous challenge for each and every driver and team. The extremely fast Circuit des 24 Heures is one of my favorites. I’ve competed here every year since 2002, so this marks my eleventh time. Still, every year I look forward to Le Mans.”
“The key to success is teamwork. Especially in Le Mans you not only need a quick and reliable vehicle but an experienced pit crew.”
“Le Mans is an absolute classic. It’s a real tough race, especially in the GTE class with many good cars and many good drivers. In 2010 I stood on the podium as a rookie which was an indescribable feeling. Now I’m looking forward to my first race with the Flying Lizard crew.”
“Le Mans holds a very special meaning for me as a Frenchman. I’m thrilled to be able to race here.”