Four Porsche 963 in the top 10 in Le Mans after five hours

Four Porsche 963 in the top 10 in Le Mans after five hours

Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#6), Kevin Estre (F), Andre Lotterer (D), Laurens Vanthoor (B)
Frédéric Makowiecki, Michael Christensen and Matt Campbell in third
Changeable weather in the first hours reshuffles the field
Manthey EMA’s Porsche 911 GT3 R temporarily leads the LMGT3 class
24 Hours of Le Mans finishes on Sunday at 4 pm

After the first phase of the Le Mans 24-hour race, five of the six Porsche 963 are still looking good for a top result. At around 9 pm local time, Porsche Penske Motorsport’s No. 5 works car is running in third place. The hybrid prototype shared by Fréderic Makowiecki, Michael Christensen and Matt Campbell is just 23 seconds behind the leading Ferrari. In the LMGT3 class, the Porsche 911 GT3 R racing cars fielded by Manthey PureRxcing and Manthey EMA have settled in among the frontrunners and are fighting for first place.

he 92nd edition of the endurance classic got underway at 4 pm local time in dry conditions. At the wheel of the No. 6 hybrid prototype, Laurens Vanthoor got off the line from pole position and duelled with the two factory Ferraris for the lead. The Belgian shares the car with Frenchman Kévin Estre and André Lotterer from Germany. At around 5.40 pm, a brief shower turned the order on its head. The No. 5 Porsche opted against changing tyres and catapulted up the rankings. After a good five hours of racing, the car driven by Fréderic Makowiecki from France, Michael Christensen from Denmark and the Australian Matt Campbell was maintaining third. The sister car crewed by Felipe Nasr from Brazil, UK driver Nick Tandy and the Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet currently holds eighth. Positions seven and nine are occupied by the two customer cars from Hertz Team Jota. Philip Hanson (UK), Oliver Rasmussen (DK) and the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button (UK) were ahead of their colleagues Norman Nato (F), Will Stevens and Callum Ilott (both UK). After pitting briefly for repairs, Proton Competition’s 963 fell back to P21.


“After five hours of racing, we have four Porsche in the top ten with the fifth car in eleventh – so things are looking pretty good for us,” said Urs Kuratle. “We’re currently implementing two strategies, and both are working out. Things could turn chaotic again during the night. Right now, it’s all about staying focused and not making any mistakes. We had to replace the number 4’s rear wing and later the illuminated number plate on the right-hand side after a shunt with a GT car in the early stage.”


In the LMGT3 class, the 911 GT3 R of Porsche’s customer team Manthey PureRxcing tackled the endurance classic on the Circuit des 24 Heures from the second grid spot. After Englishman Alex Malykhin handed the No. 92 Porsche 911 off to Klaus Bachler, the Austrian promptly chased down the leading pack. At around 9 pm, the car was in fifth place. In Manthey EMA’s car, Yasser Shahin started the race from eleventh on the LMGT3 grid. Morris Schuring then took over the No. 91 cockpit from the Australian. After around four hours of racing, the young Dutchman swept into the lead. By 9 pm, the ca. 416 kW (565 PS) 911 was in second place.


Drivers’ comments on the race so far
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 963 #6): “It was hard defending the lead – the Ferraris are very fast on the long straights. Still, we managed to keep up and save some fuel, which meant we were able to catch them again at the refuelling stop. When the rain started, we opted for the wrong tyres. Now we’re battling our way back to the top.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #4): “Our Porsche is running beautifully. When the first full course yellow began, we unfortunately had to make our scheduled fuel stop where we were only allowed a ‘splash and dash’ so we had to pit a second time. That was bad luck. Then we received a time penalty because we braked two-tenths of a second too late from 250 km/h into an FCY in the middle of the Porsche curves. That was a mistake. We also had to replace the rear wing due to a contact in the early stages of the race. But the good thing is, we’re still on the same lap as the leader. We remain optimistic.”

Michael Christensen (Porsche 963 #5): “That was interesting! Shortly after I took the wheel from Fred Makowiecki, it started to rain. We stayed on slicks for dry conditions, which was the right decision despite the water on the track – but I had to be extremely careful to keep the tyres at the right temperature without going too fast. That was critical to maintain grip.”

Will Stevens (Porsche 963 #12): “It was a pretty hectic start to the race, but we managed to make some good decisions and opted for slicks when the rain came. That proved to be the right choice. We’ve managed to stay out of trouble so far and that’s the plan until the morning. Hopefully, we’ll still be at the sharp end.”

Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): “The start went quite well for us initially, but it began to rain about 100 minutes into the race. We thought it would continue so we switched to rain tyres – unfortunately, that proved to be the wrong decision, we should’ve stayed on slicks. That cost us some ground. Still, depending on the pit stop rhythm, we’re in the top 5. The competition is extremely tough. That and the changeable weather keep things exciting.”

Morris Schuring (Porsche 911 GT3 R #91): “I’ve just completed my very first stint in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – simply incredible! I managed to turn the fastest GT3 lap so far and handed our Porsche back to Yasser Shahin in first place. Things are going extremely well up to now, but of course, we still have many hours to go. We’ll stay focused and see what happens.”

Interim results after five of 24 hours
Hypercar class:
1. Kubica/Shwartzman/Ye (PL/IL/CN), Ferrari #83, 79 laps
2. Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen (I/E/DK), Ferrari #50, -15.777 seconds
3. Campbell/Christensen/Makowiecki (AUS/DK/F), Porsche 963 #5, -23.121 seconds
7. Hanson/Button/Rasmussen (UK/UK/DK), Porsche 963 #38, -1:52.592 minutes
8. Tandy/Nasr/Jaminet (UK/BR/F), Porsche 963 #4, -1:59.040 minutes
9. Ilott/Stevens/Nato (UK/UK/F), Porsche 963 #12, -2:04.169 minutes
11. Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor (F/D/B), Porsche 963 #6, -2:11.541 minutes
21. Andlauer/Jani/Tincknell (F/CH/UK), Porsche 963 #99, -4 laps

LMGT3 class:
1. Al Harthy/Rossi/Martin (OM/I/B), BMW #46, 70 laps
2. Lietz/Shahin/Schuring (A/AUS/NL), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, -26.662 minutes
3. Heriau, Mann, Rovera (F/USA/I), Ferrari #55, -1:08.882 minutes
5. Bachler/Malykhin/Sturm (A/UK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, -1:14.688 minutes

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