Porsche celebrate 100th class victory at Le Mans after double win
A superb 1-2 in the GTE-Pro class and victory in the GTE-Am class ensured Porsche leave the 81st running of the Circuit des 24 Heures with a record 100 class victories to their name.
In a Le Mans race smitten with changeable weather and a tragic incident within the first few laps, the new Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Porsche AG Team Manthey and piloted by works drivers Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz won the fiercely competitive GTE-Pro class against strong opposition from Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Viper. After 315 laps, the number 92 came home ahead of colleagues Joerg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard and Patrick Pilet in the number 91 911 RSR to ensure an emphatic 1-2 finish for Weissach in what was Porsche first official outing at Le Mans for 15 years.
In the GTE-Am class, team IMSA Performance Matmut’s GT3 RSR clinched victory with Frenchmen Raymond Narac, Jean-Karl-Vernay and Christophe Bourret at the wheel.
Porsche AG Team Manthey’s win, watched by Chairman of the Supervisory Board Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, was the maiden win for the 991 RSR in their third race in the 2013 World Endurance Championship, and proved the perfect experience as Porsche prepare to compete in the top class LMP1 category in 2014.
Starting in third position in class on the grid, both Type 991 RSRs showed exceptional reliability, largely pitting for just fuel, tyres and driver changes. A direct battle with the no.97 Aston Martin emerged during nightfall for the GTE-Pro lead, but porsche ensured a 1st and 2nd place finish in the final few hours of racing.
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Porsche AG: “With the 99th and 100th class win and the double victory of the new 911 RSR, this Le Mans 24 hour race was a magnificent success for Porsche. I very much congratulate all those who have contributed. Our joy, however, is also mixed with sadness and shock at the death of (Aston Martin driver) Allan Simonsen. We have not only lost a passionate racer, but also a good friend of the Porsche motorsport family. He contested his first Le Mans 24 Hours in 2007 with a Porsche. With our works driver Marc Lieb in 2005, he contested two races of the Le Mans Endurance Series in a Porsche as well. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family as well as the Aston Martin squad and his teammates at this difficult time.”
Dr Porsche’s sentiments were echoed by Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche AG: “Those were very gripping 24 hours and a race with action we’ve all certainly experienced rarely. It was exciting from the first to the last minute. In the end luck was on our side. Aston Martin was a tremendous opponent. At this time our thoughts should be with the fatally injured Allan Simonsen. For motorsport and for Aston Martin it is a great tragedy. Nevertheless, Porsche has once again shown that it is the manufacturer to beat in GT racing. This makes us optimistic for 2014.”
Olaf Manthey, team principal of Porsche AG Team Manthey, was delighted with the victory for the factory: “I’m still speechless about our success. After the penultimate safety car phase I was not feeling particularly optimistic. I still can’t believe this victory. In 1999 I was with Porsche for the first time in Le Mans and we won then too. Now I returned after 15 years and did it again. Dear God, however, has written a screenplay that almost ruined by nerves.”
A full report of Porsche’s official return to Le Mans, including exclusive behind the scenes pictures and an extended interview with head of development Wolfgang Hatz, can be found in issue 103 of Total 911 magazine, in shops or available to download from July 7th.
Round four of the sports car World Endurance Championship takes place on 1 September in Sao Paulo/Brazil.
1. Dumas/Lieb/Lietz (F/D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 315 laps
2. Bergmeister/Bernhard/Pilet (D/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 315
3. Dumbreck/Mücke/Turner (GB/D/GB), Aston Martin, 314
4. Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor (DK/E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 312
5. Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander (MC/J/SF), Ferrari 458 Italia, 312
6. Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli (I/I/I), Ferrari 458 Italia, 311
1. Narrac/Bourret/Vernay (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 306 laps
2. Perazzini/Case/O’Young (I/I/CDN), Ferrari 458 Italia, 305
3. Gerber/Griffin/Cioci (ZA/IRL/I), Ferrari 458 Italia, 305
4. Dempsey/Long/Foster (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 305
7. Henzler/Gibon/Milesi (D/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 300
8. Ried/Roda/Ruberti (D/I/I), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 300
9. Collard/Perrod/Crubile (F/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 298