Two days before the great 24-hour race in Le Mans, the best eight vehicles from each class entered the grid once more for the Hyperpole. During the previous day’s Qualifying, two of the Porsche Penske Motorsport Hypercar vehicles managed to score a chance to snatch pole position.
After the third free practice throughout the afternoon, the Porsche 963 #5 and #75 with the drivers Frédéric Makowiecki and Felipe Nasr returned to the track in the evening. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, a half-hour race to determine the coveted pole position took place.
Participating in the Hyperpole event is an even greater chance for teams and drivers: Throughout the 30 minutes, drivers cannot refuel, nor return to the pit. By reducing the number of cars down to 24, the grid becomes easier to manage. Additional challenges – such as traffic, increased yellow flags or sections with reduced speed – are less prominent. Everything narrows down onto performing the best lap.
Similarly to the previous day, the Circuit de la Sarthe welcomed Frédéric Makowiecki and Felipe Nasr in their Porsche 963 vehicles with high temperatures and dry air. The ranks around the track were filled to the brim and everyone was eagerly awaiting the decision of who would start from the advantageous pole position on Saturday, June 10.
10 minutes before the start, preparations in the garages of the vehicles #5 and #75 were running at an all-time high. At exactly 8 p.m., the green flag was swung – thus permitting the exit out of pitlane onto the track. However, both Porsche Penske Motorsport vehicles remained in pitlane and awaited their run.
It would take until half-time of the Hyperpole for the Porsche 963 number five to exit the pit. Instantly, he went full-throttle.
In his first round, the Frenchman crossed the start-finish line at 3:25.176 minutes. With that, he placed himself in the fourth spot of the ranking. Three seconds to catch up on the leading Ferrari.
In the remaining five minutes, the underbody of the Cadillac number three caught fire in the Mulsanne Straight section. Immediately, the red flag was swung. The entire grid was forced to reduce their speed and return to the pit. At this point, the Porsche 963 #5 was on fifth spot of the ranking. Great disappointment was felt for the number 75: Mere moments before the red flag, it had left the pit. Felipe Nasr had not even completed a lap before he was forced to return to the pit.
The qualifying of a 24-hour race does not have the greatest impact. It’s more important to have a good car for the entire race distance.
Six minutes after the incident of the Cadillac, the track was opened again. Out of the Porsche Penske Motorsport Team, Felipe Nasr left pitlane first, while the #5 stayed behind. Still: The fastest lap of the Cadillac #3 was deleted and Frédéric Makowiecki moved up onto fourth spot. However, he would not return to the track after its release.
Felipe Nasr in the #75 had not completed a round when the checkered flag swung. But he still could complete his lap: With a lap time of 3:24.531, he crossed the finish line and reached the fourth spot with the 963 #75. In the end, number five dropped to the seventh spot.
Still: The Hyperpole is not decisive for the race. In times past, the Circuit de la Sarthe had proven its moodiness. In times past, Porsche had also not achieved the pole position. And in times past, Porsche had gained a victory from the middle of the grid.
In the end, the time between June 10 and 11 will decide the 24 Hours of Le Mans.