Disappointment but no fatalism at Porsche despite tricky qualifying

Announced as favorites this weekend at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche only placed two of its six Hypercars entered in Hyperpole. In the German clan, we are not alarmed.

Published on 13/06/2024 à 11:32

Dorian Grangier

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Disappointment but no fatalism at Porsche despite tricky qualifying

© Marius Hecker / DPPI

It was one of the little surprises of the qualifying session on Wednesday evening at Le Mans. Among the six Porsche 963 entered in the Sarthe – three officials, three customers with JOTA and Proton Competition – only two passed the threshold to obtain a ticket in Hyperpole. And even : before the cancellation of the Toyota No. 7 times for having caused a red flag, only the Porsche n°6 of Kévin Estre was classified in the Top 8. The JOTA n°12, ninth on the checkerboard, inherited the last place for the Hyperpole this Thursday.

A result far from expectations and hopes, while Porsche has the label of favorite for 24H of Le Mans after an excellent start to the season. However, on the flying lap exercise, the 963 did not seem to be at ease, notably with a slight lack of top speed. Obviously, it is disappointment that wins over the German clan.

“The qualifying session was close and exciting, with a very dense field in the Hypercar category, said Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President of Porsche Motorsport. We would have preferred to see more factory Porsche 963s reach the Hyperpole, so we're disappointed. We must now examine the results and draw the necessary conclusions for Saturday's race. Unlike previous practice sessions, I think we had a better idea in qualifying of how we stack up against the competition and we have some direction in that regard. »

“In the end, the top eight were separated by only 0″, which shows how close qualifying was, adds Jonathan Diuguid, director of Porsche Penske Motorsport. The #6 made it into the Top 8, the other two factory cars just couldn't put together a clean lap. Nick Tandy was particularly unlucky in the No. 4, as was Matt [Campbell] on his second lap. »

Porsche, all about racing?

Kévin Estre, the only Porsche driver to have set a time good enough to qualify in Hyperpole (before downgrading of the Toyota n°7), recounts an eventful session, he who almost lost everything at Mulsanne while trying to avoid a Lamborghini. “We had an hour to do the tour as quickly as possible. There was a lot going on on the track: with 62 cars there was obviously a lot of overtaking. I did my best and it worked. Half a tenth of a second was the deciding factor in our favor. We now need to see where we can make adjustments to improve before the race. But for now, I'm excited to compete in Hyperpole on Thursday. »

Despite this poor qualifying result, Porsche is not worried about Saturday's race. “ The drivers give us feedback on the performance of our cars, which makes us optimistic heading into the next race,” cadded Jonathan Diuguid. There will first be the Hyperpole this Thursday evening where the two surviving 963s will try to win pole position for the Stuttgart firm, a first since 2016.

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Dorian Grangier

A young journalist nostalgic for the motorsport of yesteryear. Raised on the exploits of Sébastien Loeb and Fernando Alonso.

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