Well it’s official, pigs can fly! The #92 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre/Laurens Vanthoor/Dirk Werner may not have topped the lap charts on Sunday at the Le Mans Test day, but they were just 1.3 seconds off their team mates in the #93 Porsche who did indeed post the fastest time of the day in class.
The WEC/ACO has threatened to wield the big stick of punishment, if any of the teams, right across the board through all the classes, is found to be deliberately sandbagging. The problem is of course that in the GTE Pro class, the new Aston Martin and BMW models do not have a history with which the race authorities can calculate an accurate BoP. We saw last year at Le Mans how the two oldest cars in the GTE Pro class battled it out for the honours, making an absolute mockery of the whole exercise, so if you are going to have a BoP then it had better be right.
Putting aside the BoP issues, which we covered in our last WEC feature, it is very satisfying to see that Porsche has finally broken out of its rather stuffy corporate livery, and has rolled out some colour instead. In a salute to Porsche’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, the #91 contender was decked out in the iconic blue-and-white finish with red and gold stripes, reminiscent of the Rothmans sponsorship colours of that era. The #92 car has adopted the famous ‘Pink Pig’ design of the 917/20 from 1971. And the creative minds did not stop there, because the pit garages are also finished in the same vintage style as the cars, making for a pleasant change from the usual colour scheme.
It was in the 1970s that Tony Lapine introduced the psychedelic ‘Hippie’ 917, the ‘Pink Pig’ 917/20 and the 1978 Martini ‘Moby Dick’ with its stylish swooping stripes. Race cars should display a little creativity, because this appeals to the paying public who are, after all, parting with their hard-earned dosh to see a little on-track excitement. While it is refreshing to see two of the four 911s presenting a splash of colour, you can’t help asking why not the other two cars as well.
Not to be outdone, some of the Porsche GTE Am cars also splashed out with a bit of colour. The #99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas and Spencer Pumpelly is wearing a luminous green livery, while the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche boasts a strong yellow colour.
It is particularly pleasing to note that Porsche heads the time sheets in both the Pro and Am classes, with Porsche holding a 1-2 position in the Pro category. Although this is just the Test day, the teams are well aware of the consequences of driving below their best, the only downside being that the ACO is likely to slap Porsche with a heavier BoP than they already have. Their only factor in their favour would be that the slowest Pro Porsche was down in 14th place in class, making it a bit unfair for the #94 car if they were to be pegged back further. The time difference between the #93 Porsche in first place and the #94 Porsche down in 14th place, is a mere 2.2 seconds, which is not a big gap covering fourteen race cars.
The GTE Am class of 911 RSR is essentially the same car as in the Pro class, they just have a slightly different BoP factor to bear, and they have slower drivers. The time difference between the top GTE Pro Porsche (#93) and the fastest GTE Am Porsche (#77) is just three seconds. The practice and qualifying times will be very interesting to watch this year for reasons already given above, basically because of the potential penalties for sandbagging.
Below are the Test day lap times for the four Porsches in the GTE Pro class:
|Pos.||Car No.||Team||Drivers||Lap Time||Gap|
|1||93||Porsche GT Team||Pilet/Tandy/Bamber/Werner||3:52.551|
|2||91||Porsche GT Team||Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki||3:52.647||+0.096|
|7||92||Porsche GT Team||Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor/Werner||3:53.877||+1.326|
|14||94||Porsche GT Team||Dumas/Bernhard/Müller||3:54.782||+2.231|
Below are the Test day lap times for the six Porsches in the GTE Am class:
|Pos.||Car No.||Team||Drivers||Lap Time||Gap|
|4||88||Dempsey-Proton Racing||Cairoli/Al Qubaisi/Roda||3:56.946||+0.976|
|8||86||Gulf Racing UK||Wainwright/Barker/Davison||3:58.904||+2.934|
|10||56||Team Project 1||Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti/Yelloly||3:59.233||+3.263|
The next event on your Le Mans watching schedule later this month is Scrutineering, a spectacle that is held in the Place de la République, in central Le Mans, on Sunday and Monday 10 and 11 June. Porsche Road & Race will be there, and we will be at the circuit for the whole of the race week, so bookmark this page to ensure that you don’t miss out on further reports and features during that time. Alternatively, you can subscribe on the homepage for our FREE email alerts covering this and other essential Porsche features.
Words by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/John Mountney