It was finally time: the Le Mans race weekend took place after the postponement. The legendary 24-hour race at the Sarthe is one of the biggest highlights in the Porsche Motorsport calendar every year. However, the Le Mans 2020 outcome wasn't exactly what everyone in Weissach had hoped it would be.
The ups and downs of our Le Mans race weekend.
The first Le Mans for the new 911 RSR.
Of course, moving the race from June to September does not only imply logistical changes - but also it was impossible to predict the weather and average temperatures. On top of that, there was another decisive factor for the #TeamPorsche: the new 911 RSR has not yet driven a single lap on the Circuit de la Sarthe. Accordingly, the two factory race cars were on track early and for a long time on Thursday with a total of 10 hours in the free practice session. And it was worth it: both of the Porsche 911 RSR vehicles made it into the Hyperpole qualification on Friday morning.
Pole position in Hyperpole qualifying.
There the performance of the previous day was exceeded once again: Gianmaria Bruni set the fastest time in the decisive qualifying session with the Porsche 911 RSR #91 and secured pole position for himself and his team colleagues Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki. The sister car #92 with Kévin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor and Michael Christensen made it to 6th place.
Disappointing race start on Saturday.
Then the race started: Saturday 14:30 (CEST) saw the 24-hours race begin with the flying lap. But for the two Porsche 911 RSR in the historic colours of the first overall Le Mans winner of 1970, the race start was anything but perfect. The competition had a higher top speed on the straights, and mercilessly exploited the slipstream of the #91. The sister car also had no chance on the straights.
No racing luck in the whole 24 hours.
Of course, the weather forecasts were anything but constant for this race weekend, so there were still hopes in the Porsche Box to make up for the speed difference in a rain race. But such racing luck was evidently not meant to be for the two race cars. First, the #92 suffered a puncture early in the race, only to receive the next bad news from the cockpit a few hours later: Laurens Vanthoor reported problems with the power steering at the wheel of the #92 - this caused a downtime and repair time in the pits of more than 40 minutes. After some heavy crashes on the track, the early evening hours were dominated by several long safety car phases. During the night, #91 also reported steering problems, which fortunately were repaired relatively quickly. As the weather held up against all forecasts and the track saw no rain showers, the two factory race cars simply didn't stand a chance in the end. The #91 team finished the race in 5th, and the #92 crossed the finish line in 6th place.
Strong performance in the GTE AM.
Shortly before the end of the race, the three safety cars had to move out again. Matt Campbell, on the track for Dempsey-Proton Racing, made ideal use of the resulting restart to push past his brand colleagues from Team Project 1. After 24 hours, this meant a fantastic 2nd place for the team in the GTE-Am class. For Matt Campbell, it is already his second Le Mans podium in his career. We are pleased for the Porsche works driver. At the same time, we are working flat out on the preparations for the 24h of Nürburgring. Because as one race ends another begins.