Last weekend at La Sarthe, Porsche's driving ace, Joerg Bergmeister, imitated the Wright Brothers in an attempt at manned flight. The problem was, he wasn't in a plane, but rather his 991 911 RSR, and he wasn't at Kitty Hawk, but rather the Ford Chicane at Le Mans. Bergmeister missed his braking point at the entry to the chicane. In past years, Bergmeister might have simply driven over the kerbing to the inside of the corner, but this year that kerbing (dubbed "the sausages") has been significantly enlarged to prevent corner cutting.
Rather than risk the car over the high kerbs, Bergmeister opted to take the car through the gravel trap. What he didn't expect, however, was a dramatic step up between the track level and the gravel, causing his #91 Porsche AG Team Manthey RSR to take to the air. With such stiffly sprung cars that are already quite low to the ground, there was initially some concern for Bergmeister's spine, but he was checked out and determined to be in fine condition.
Joerg Bergmeister -
“Unfortunately I missed the braking point in the Ford curve and actually wanted to drive straight ahead through the gravel trap to avoid hitting the curbs at the edge, but the car took off, flew far and landed hard.”
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport -
"It didn't make sense to do the repairs here. We’ll take a good look at it when we get home. After all, we want to drive this car in a fortnight at the 24 hour race!"
The sister 911 of Fred Mako, Marco Holzer, and Richard Lietz redeemed Porsche efforts at the test, however, as Mako put the car soundly at the top of the time sheets for the weekend. A truly impressive 3:57.260 lap time was laid down by the French driver.
The Porsche LM GTE Pro class effort hopes to repeat last year's successes by defending their 1-2 class finish at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the luck that Porsche's RSR teams have had so far in 2014, and an already impressive testing time, the gauntlet has firmly been thrown at the feet of the other teams.
Later, at the very same corner, ex-Porsche ace Spencer Pumpelly had a very similar incident in his JMW Motorsports Ferrari 458 GTE Am car. Pumpelly was also uninjured, but the car was also heavily damaged.
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Porsche To Continue GT Works Engagement In 2014 WEC
Porsche Acquires 51% Stake in Manthey Racing
Source: Sportscar 365 - Photo: Maximilien Cadiou