Porsche at Le Mans: 911 French Connection

There’s just one week to go until the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour. Porsche will tackle LMP1 with its 919 Hybrid racecar and a star crew of drivers, but Le Mans is not all about prototypes. The reduced-power Porsche 911 Le Mans RSR faces a tough challenge to repeat last year’s win in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes.

porsche 911 le mans 2014 win 991

Watch Out for Corvette at Le Mans

It always feels like there are cars everywhere on track at Le Mans, but the GTE-Pro field is very compact. Nine cars will race in GTE-Pro: three Ferarris, two Corvettes, two 911s and two Aston Martins. While the GTE Pro Porsches finished 1-2 at Silverstone, the gap to third placed Aston was less than a minute behind. Both Aston and the P4 Ferrari finished on the lead lap in class.

Bruni’s Ferrari won at Spa, a lap ahead of Pilet/Bergmeister in an RSR that had been getting quicker as the race wore on. Now Pilet leads the RSR charge at home, in the third round of the eight for 2014 WEC championship and the final WEC race held in Europe this year.

porsche 911 le mans 2014 patrick pilet (1)

““Le Mans is a very special race, especially for me as a Frenchman,” says Patrick. “It’s always an incredible feeling to go racing on such an extreme circuit in front of so many fans.  We are well prepared and our 911 RSR is a strong contender, especially on the long straights. It would be fantastic if we could turn this into a win.”

Less Power for the Le Mans Porsche 911 RSR

It would indeed be fantastic as thanks to the “balance of performance” ruling, the RSR now weighs 25 kilos more and has a smaller air restrictor, reducing engine power. No one wants to see how this affects the 911’s chances in France more than the second French Porsche works driver, Fred Makowiecki.

porsche 911 le mans 2014

“A Frenchman simply has to race – and win – at Le Mans. Your family is watching at the track, your friends are there supporting you. This makes it hugely motivating. As a child I dreamed of Porsche; I launched my racing career with Porsche. If I could now win Le Mans with Porsche, that would be the best thing in the world. But first we have to face 24 hours where pretty much anything can happen.”

Porsche Works Driver Le Mans Crash

Fred has bitter personal experience of this, as he crashed out of an established GTE-Pro lead last year when his Aston smashed into the barriers at a Les Hunadières chicane. “It was wet, and at the exit of the chicane the car just snatched, went 90 degrees and into the wall. We were going well, but as always the most important thing is to be first in the last minute. It was a small mistake on my side; I take the blame.”

Running at the last minute means everything at Le Mans. In eight days, we’ll know how that went for Porsche. Here’s how the French commentators reported Fred’s crash last year:

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