The best Porsche will start the Nurburgring 24 Hours from fifth place when the 38th running of the race gets underway on Saturday afternoon.
The position underlines the strong opposition the manufacturer face if they are continue their streak of four overall victories. Somewhat surprisingly, given the undoubted quality of some of the other Porsche teams the fastest lap fell the way of Lance David Arnold and the Haribo Team Manthey GT3 R machine.
“I must admit I'm rather proud to be the fastest Porsche pilot in qualifying,” beamed the 24-year-old. “I got a great run and our Porsche 911 GT3 R was simply sensational. We have a super starting position for tomorrow's race.” He will be joined in racing the car by two-time Porsche Supercup champion Richard Westbrook, ex-DTM and current GT1 racer Alex Margeritis and Christian Menzel.
His lap of 8:29.521 placed him first of a trio of Porsches separated by less than a second. The Mamerow Racing car was sixth fastest, with the defending champions the Lieb/Bernhard/Dumas/Tiemann Manthey Racing car was seventh on the grid, working on a conservative strategy that saw them sit out the closing stages of the two hour session, as Lieb describes; “I turned our quickest lap right at the beginning of the session. We deliberately avoided gunning for top times in the last few minutes of the qualifying and instead chose to conserve our car.”
“The grid position at an endurance race is more a thing of prestige. The score is settled after 24 hours.”
Lining up ninth will be the 911 Hybrid, driver Richard Lietz declaring himself happy with the performance but admitting that the car, which features a pair of electric motors complementing a combustion engine was at something of a disadvantage. “Under dry conditions we weren't able to do better due to the weight of our car,” he admits. “In the race we are relying totally on the efficiency of our 911 GT3 R Hybrid.”
Further back on the grid are the Porsche AG team, running a “standard” 911 GT3 RS in the SP7 class. Another former DTM racer, Roland Asch, lapping in 9:15.338 to put the car 42nd fastest.
“I'm very happy with our lap time,” said Asch. “In fact, we'd expected to be around the 9.20 mark. Our 911 GT3 RS is more fun lap by lap. This vehicle is definitely the road-going car that carries the most racing genes. I'm totally enthusiastic.”