Following the end of the 2017 FIA WEC season, Porsche had another Le Mans win and another set of season championships, then they abruptly ended their 919 Hybrid LMP1 program. Following four years of incredible international success, Porsche was back on top again, adding three more Le Mans wins to their tally, and they were happy to cash in before they lost it all again. So here we stand, in 2018 with no Porsche in the running for the overall victory. They've added a second pair of 911 RSRs to the GTE Pro class, and there are a scad of new GTE Am class cars in the Porsche fold, so there is still plenty to get excited about, but it doesn't feel quite the same without our beloved 919 Hybrids.
Porsche in GTE Pro
Porsche's GTE Pro effort in 2017 was as close as you can be to success without getting it. Running a pair of cars, Porsche finished a lap down in fourth with the #91 car, while the #92 car retired from the race, having completed only 179 laps. It was the first Le Mans effort for Porsche's mid-engine 911 RSR, and while it had the pace to keep up, they ran into some teething issues. Corvette and Aston Martin dominated the proceedings, with a famous fight to the finish, and Ford stuck one of their cars above Porsche there at the end as well. Porsche has gone five years without a victory in the GTE Pro class, and they're pulling out all of the stops this year, entering a full squadron of four cars in the class.
In the pre-Le Mans test day, Porsche's IMSA-based #93 entry with Patrick Pilet at the wheel ran an incredible time of 3:52.551. This was good for the title of fastest GTE Pro lap, setting the pace for the test day. “At the beginning of the tests, the track was still very slippery, so we had to be a bit careful,” said Pilet. While testing doesn't always translate to in-race pace, it's certainly a good place to start. In any case, the 911 RSR is the best sounding car on the track, so they've already got that honor locked up.
Porsche has entered four cars, two from the Manthey-operated WEC squad, and two from the Porsche Motorsport North America campaign. Numbers 91 through 94 will posted on the doors of the four 911 RSRs. The #91 will feature driving talent from Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz, and Fred Mako. The 92 car will be home to Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, and Laurens Vanthoor. Those two Porsches will feature throwback liveries in the form of the 956's Rothmans, and 917s Pink Pig, respectively. The two other Porsches will feature the current full-season "Porsche Shield" livery. The #93 car has incredible talent in Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet, and Earl Bamber. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas are paired with Porsche's youngest factory team driver, Sven Mueller in the #94 car.
Porsche in GTE Am
This year is the largest field of GTE Am Porsches than we've seen quite some time. There are a full six RSRs running in the class from three different teams. The new Team Project 1 is running with Porsche Pro Joerg Bergmeister and American businessman Patrick Lindsey, plus Egidio Perfetti. Ebimotors is running Fabio Babini, Christina Nielsen, and Erik Maris. Gulf Racing are back with Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker, and Alex Davison. Proton are running a pair of cars under the Dempsey Proton banner (Matteo Cairoli, Giorgio Roda, and Khaled Al Qubaisi in the #77 car. Matt Campbell, Christian Ried, and Julien Andlauer in the #88), as well as a third independent car (in Black Swan Racing livery) for the three Americans, Tim Pappas, Spencer Pumpelly, and factory racer Patrick Long.
Race Resources for Porsche Fans
- Our Twitter Guide For Porsche Fans
- Full Entry List
- Timing and Scoring
- Andy Blackmore's Spotter's Guides
- Streaming Radio
Fox discarded its 24 Hours of Le Mans coverage for the first time since the Speed Channel's demise, and the broadcast rights have been handed off to the Discovery/MotorTrend's Velocity channel, which will broadcast the full race in the US.
24 Hours of Le Mans, June 16-17th (all times ET and subject to change):
- 8AM EST 6/16 - 9:30 AM EST 6/17