Preview: Porsche At Le Mans 2017
We look ahead to the 2017 Le Mans 24-Hours, where a total of 10 Porsche race cars, 13 works drivers and one Porsche Young Professional will compete…
In 2015 Porsche won the Le Mans 24-Hours with Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy – a trio of LMP1 rookies. That 17th overall Le Mans win for Porsche, the first since 1998, was repeated in 2016 with its 18th overall win, this time courtesy of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb. For 2017 the big question is this: can Porsche perform a hat trick of victories?
Porsche’s LMP team faces potentially its toughest battle for overall victory in 2017, which will be contested by 60 cars and 180 drivers. Its main challenge is likely to come from Toyota, the Japanese manufacturer came within minutes of winning the 2016 race, before a technical failure gifted a second consecutive Le Mans victory to Porsche. Once again Toyota will compete with three prototype cars against Porsche’s two 919 Hybrids in the top LMP1-H class.
The 919 Hybrid has been reworked for 2017, approximately 70 percent of its components are new. In particular Porsche has been working on the car’s aerodynamics, in the WEC series it has already run the 919 in ‘Le Mans’ trim, sacrificing its chances in the opening two rounds, all in order to learn as much as possible ahead of the French classic. The hybrid engine, which remains largely untouched, produces somewhere in the region of 900hp. That power is split between the two-litre turbocharged V4-cylinder combustion engine (500hp) which drives the rear axle, and the electric motor (400hp) which propels the front axle. The electronic systems recover brake and exhaust energy which is temporarily stored in a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery.
Le Mans features as the third round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), in which Porsche has scored a double podium and a third place finish, it currently sits second in the constructors’ standings behind Toyota.
No1 919 Hybrid:
It is 2016 Le Mans winner, and reigning FIA World Endurance Champion, Neel Jani who shares the No1 919 Hybrid with former Audi man, André Lotterer, and 2015 Le Mans victor, Nick Tandy. The Brit returns to the prototype category to tackle his second Le Mans, meanwhile Jani has eight previous starts to his name, Lotterer has won the event three times from eight starts in his career. In the pit lane this car can be identified by its blue lighting. In qualifying Toyota locked-out the front row with its lead car setting a new Le Mans lap record (3:14.791), the No1 919 Hybrid will start the race in third, after Jani set a time of 3:17.259.
No2 919 Hybrid:
Timo Bernhard starts his 11th Le Mans race in 2017, he shares the No2 Porsche with 2015 Le Mans victor Earl Bamber who tackles the challenge for the third time, and Brendon Hartley, a win from the Kiwi’s previous five starts has eluded him. In the pit lane this car can be identified by its magenta lighting. The No2 car will start the race one place behind its sister car in fourth, having set a lap time of 3:18.067.
The Porsche GT Team fields two new 911 RSRs in the famously cutthroat GTE-Pro class at Le Mans. The new 510hp car, developed by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, celebrated its race debut at the Daytona 24-hour back in January this year. New in every regard: suspension, body, aerodynamics, engine and transmission, the mid-engined machine replaced a 911 that achieved a double (GTE-Pro and GTE-Am class) victory at Le Mans in 2013, part of Porsche’s 18 overall and 105 class wins at Le Mans to date. In addition to the latest 911 RSRs, four 2015-spec 911 RSRs will be campaigned by Porsche customer teams competing in the GTE-Am class.
Richard Lietz, Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet share the No91 RSR, their car features red mirrors with a black windscreen strip and rear wing. Alongside them are Michael Christensen, Kévin Estre and Dirk Werner in the No92 RSR, it can be differentiated by its white mirrors, screen topper and rear wing. In the GT class, the No92 car starts the race in 7th, the No91 car will start in 13th spot.
Porsche Young Professional, Matteo Cairoli, tackles his first Le Mans race in this class, he shares the #No77 car run by Dempsey Proton Racing with Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst. The No77 911 was the fastest GTE-Am car in qualifying, it starts the race in fourth place in its class.
Patrick Long starts his 14th Le Mans in the No93 RSR run by Dempsey – Proton Racing, he partners Abdulaziz Turki Al Faisal and Mike Hedlund. The car qualified in 56th position overall.
In a further Proton Racing entry comes former Porsche Junior Klaus Bachler, Stéphane Lemeret and Khaled Al Qubaisi in the No88 911. The No88 entry will start in 57th spot.
Brits Ben Barker, and Michael Wainwright share the No86 Gulf Racing RSR with Nicolas Foster. The car will start the race in 55th spot, leading a trio of GTE-Am 911s; No88 and No93.
How to watch:
Web: Porsche website: porsche.com/lemans offers a 24-hour live onboard cameras from the works 919’s cockpits, in addition you’ll find telemetry information about the cars.
Facebook: From Saturday at 3pm the race will be broadcast live from onboard the best placed 919 Hybrid at facebook.com/porsche
App: The official WEC App can be downloaded free of charge, it includes full live streaming and timing of the Le Mans 24-Hours. The live stream is voiced and includes live interviews.
In order to keep on top of all the action, we’d also recommend you download your free 2017 Le Mans Spotter Guide, compiled by Dunlop, here. We’ll keep you up to date with the action via our Twitter account (@GTPorsche), full race reports will follow on our website and in the next issue of GT Porsche.