Michael Christensen (DK), Dane Cameron (USA), Frederic Makowiecki (F), Andre Lotterer (D), Kevin Estre (F), Laurens Vanthoor (B), Mathieu Jaminet (F), Nick Tandy (UK), Felipe Nasr (BR) (l-r)
Drivers of Porsche Penske Motorsport and customer teams full of confidence
On its 75th anniversary, a new era begins for Porsche as the most successful manufacturer
Organiser has expanded the schedule to celebrate the 100th anniversary
Porsche Penske Motorsport and the customer teams of the sports car manufacturer from Stuttgart are ready to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 91st edition of the long-distance classic in France marks the 100th anniversary of the event and coincides with the 75th birthday of the Porsche sports car brand.
The event on the 13.626-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures in Le Mans marks the annual highlight on the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC calendar. The first running of the race was in 1923 to showcase automotive innovation, durability and performance. The only time the classic was not contested in the city in north-western France was in 1936 (general strike in France) and between 1940 and 1948 (WWII and reconstruction). This year marks the 91st running and the 100th anniversary of the long-distance race.
On the occasion of the anniversary, the event organiser ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) has added a few extra highlights to the special schedule. On Friday before the start of the race, there will be another presentation of all drivers at the racetrack in addition to the traditional drivers’ parade in the city centre. As part of a show-run of 40 legendary Le Mans vehicles, four Porsche racing cars will also lap the circuit on Saturday shortly before the 24-hour classic gets underway: Mark Webber drives a 936 Spyder, Timo Bernhard a Porsche 956, Marc Lieb a 962C and Stephane Ortelli climbs behind the wheel of his victorious vehicle from 1998, the Porsche 911 GT1.
Drivers’ comments before the race Dane Cameron (Porsche 963 #5): “I have high expectations for the Le Mans weekend. After more than a year and a half of preparation with the Porsche 963, it’s definitely the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It’s a very special feeling to finally be at the start of this race week. We have the chance to bring home the triumph at Le Mans - for Porsche and Mr Penske. At the same time, it’s a dream come true for me: I’ve always dreamed of racing for overall victory at Le Mans. I can’t wait and I’m sure I’m about to experience some very special days.”
André Lotterer (Porsche 963 #6): “I’m really looking forward to my comeback at Le Mans. This race is a highlight for me. Since I was only able to drive for one year in the former Porsche LMP team, I’m feeling super motivated to go racing with the new factory team. I’m hugely grateful to have this chance to experience the 100th anniversary of this classic – it’s a piece of history. I’m happy with my three victories but I want more. To achieve another win together with Porsche and Penske would be a dream.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #75): “It’s been a few years since I’ve had the opportunity to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours. I can’t wait to compete there again. Since it’ll probably be my only race in France this year, I can talk about a home race. We’re travelling there in high spirits with our US team and the third car, which currently leads the IMSA championship. We’re going into the weekend with optimism, hoping for a good race and that we get to take a champagne shower on the podium.”
António Félix da Costa (Porsche 963 #38): “For our team and me personally, Le Mans is a very big deal. There are a lot of emotions tied up in the fact that we’ll be able to compete for overall victory in the top class this year with the Porsche 963. Even though our team has already won the LMP2 class there, everyone is well aware of how big the task will be with the new car. Our experience with the Porsche is still quite limited. We learned a lot during a joint test with the factory team at Le Castellet. We’re coming into the race with deep humility but equally high hopes. Step by step we want to inch closer to maximum performance.”
Jan Heylen (Porsche 911 RSR #16): “In 2022, I had a great experience at Le Mans with Fred Poordad and Max Root, finishing fifth in our class. This year I’m racing with my long-standing teammates Ryan Hardwick and Zach Robichon. We’ve competed in and won many races together. We’re hoping to uphold that tradition at the Le Mans anniversary. It’s a special event for several reasons: the final year of the 911 RSR, the final year for the GTE-Am class and the inaugural year of the Hypercar category. I couldn’t be more excited to experience it all with Ryan, Zach and our Proton Competition team.”
Alessio Picariello (Porsche 911 RSR #60): “This is the third time in a row that I’m contesting the 24-hour race. But this year is a very special one because the endurance classic is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and Porsche its 75 years of sports cars. I’m thrilled to be part of it. At the same time, it’s also the last season of the GTE era and therefore also for the 911 RSR – a racing car I’m very fond of. So I want to enjoy the event as much as possible and can hardly wait for it to finally get underway.”
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “Le Mans is the most legendary race of all and it’s clearly one of the highlights of the year. At the same time, it’s the most important FIA WEC event because you can score more points for the championship here. I’m looking forward to my sixth race, all of them have been with Dempsey-Proton. The team first gave me a chance in 2018 and has trusted me every year since – I’m very thankful for that. After 2019, I’m back sharing the cockpit with Christian Ried. As a Frenchman, it means a lot to me to compete at the 100th anniversary of Le Mans. We’ll do our very best to win this special event.”
Michelle Gatting (Porsche 911 RSR #85): “I’m very much looking forward to contesting my fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Iron Dames squad. Competing at the 100th anniversary is something very special. We’re all extremely motivated and we know we have a powerful car and a strong team behind us. We’re heading into the race with a lot of respect – anything can happen. Still, we’re hungry to get to the top.”
Riccardo Pera (Porsche 911 RSR #86): “Within just three weeks, I’m tackling two of the most important races in the world. It’s like a dream. I raced in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup for the first time at the Monaco Grand Prix and now it’s straight to Le Mans. This is my fourth time competing in the 24-hour race - so far always in a 911 RSR. This year I’m back driving for GR Racing. We want to improve on our fourth-place finish last year.”
Harry Tincknell (Porsche 911 RSR #88): “At the WEC round at Spa, we achieved the best result for a GTE Porsche with fourth place, which is a pretty good indicator for the race at Le Mans. But we still have to work on a few things. Proton fields several cars again this year. I’m looking forward to swapping all the data and information among ourselves, as well as working with the engineers to find the best setup for the race week. Obviously, there’ll be masses of fans at the Le Mans anniversary race at Le Mans. That’s absolutely fantastic. There’s certainly an incredible atmosphere - it could be the best Le Mans event ever. I hope we can put on a good show and wrap up the era of the 911 RSR with a bang.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The project with Michael Fassbender is now in its fifth year. I’m convinced that he’ll tackle the race well-prepared. With Proton Competition, we have a very experienced team supporting us. All the ingredients are there to do well at Le Mans. We want to finish the race and drive as flawlessly as possible. If we succeed in this, then something good is sure to come of it.”
Porsche’s unparalleled track record at Le Mans
On 8 June 1948, the Porsche 356 No.1 Roadster was granted its road permit in Germany. This event 75 years ago marked the birth of the Stuttgart sports car brand. Just three years later, the manufacturer sent a delegation to the 24-hour race in Le Mans for the first time. With success: the two Frenchmen Auguste Veuillet and Edmond Mouche promptly clinched class victory at the wheel of the Porsche 356/4 SL Coupé. Since then, the Porsche brand has been represented on the grid of the world’s greatest endurance race every year. Thanks to 19 overall victories and 110 class wins to date, the sports car manufacturer from Stuttgart is by far the number one on the list of achievements of the organizer Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO).