With the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans just around the corner, many of Porsche‘s LMP1 drivers have given their thoughts about arguably the most prestigious race in the world. This will be Porsche’s second Le Mans since their return to the top tier of prototype racing in 2014, and with three 919 Hybrids driven by nine of the most talented sportscar racers, they are in a very good position to challenge their rivals for a win.
Between them, the drivers of the three Porsche LMP1 entries have entered the French endurance classic a total of 43 times. The German manufacturer’s first Le Mans victory came in 1970, with the famous 917K, and their most recent win was in 1998. With 16 victories, Porsche is the record holder, and has also had more entries than any other manufacturer, a total of 770, according to ACO statistics.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of Porsche LMP1 knows the pressure on his team: “The expectations for Porsche in Le Mans are high. We can be proud of that because it is down to our own merits after we have performed well in our first ten races by winning one, achieving eight further podiums and six pole positions. We have a great team and three cars that are able to win. This is a very worthy way for Porsche to approach the race. Now the race with all its unknown factors comes into play.”
The #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid will be driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber.
“In Le Mans you never get any presents and this year the competition among the front runners is especially tight,” says Bernhard. “It is senseless to target a certain result. We just all have to focus on doing a zero-mistake-job in practice, qualifying and, most importantly, in the race.”
Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb are in charge of the #18.
“Le Mans is big,” commented Dumas, who is looking forward to his home race. “This is how the world of motorsport sees it and for me, being French, it is the greatest event anyway. We have prepared ourselves very well. We have a good car and good speed. What we need now for this very long race is a bit of luck. Then, I’m sure, we can do well.”
For the highlight race of the FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, Porsche are entering a third car. The #19 is set to be driven by Le Mans rookies Earl Bamber and Nico Hülkenberg, as well as Nick Tandy.
Like Mark Webber, Nico Hülkenberg comes to Porsche more used to Formula One, and is looking forward to his first Le Mans: “I’ve got my first taste of the track during the pre-test and I found it really cool. You can get yourself driving in a great rhythm. I’m looking forward to the long stints in the race. I feel comfy in the Porsche 919 Hybrid in Le Mans, but I’ll learn a lot more during the race week. Therefore I don’t like to speculate about the outcome. My first wish is to do well over the distance, as this is the experience I want more than anything.”
Qualifying starts on Wednesday (June 10) evening, with the race on June 13/14.