Porsche customer teams at the 2018 24 hours of Le Mans were in a positive mood after the first qualifying session provided positive results.
Porsche Young Professional Driver Matteo Cairoli topped the GTE Am class with an impressive lap time of 3:50.728 in the #77 Dempsey – Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR. The time would be untouchable throughout the session, with the sister #88 car getting the closest as Australian Matt Campbell finished 1.202 seconds down.
“I’m very pleased with my lap – it was clean and free of traffic.” said Cairoli, who is making his debut at Le Mans this year. “I take my hat off to the engineers who have done a great job with setting up the Porsche. Whether accelerating, braking or taking corners, the car handles well in every situation and is easy to drive.”
Despite battling with traffic Ben Barker took the #86 Gulf Racing 911 RSR to third fastest with a time of 3:52.517. “Like many other drivers, we had to battle with heavy traffic out on the track. We had to make a few changes to the car to be even faster and more competitive.” commented Barker.
18-year-old Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer continued to impress, setting the fourth fastest time of the session, “The first qualifying went really well and we were second fastest.” said Andlauer. “We managed to tick everything off our schedule and further optimise the vehicle.
“The car was very fast and very consistent, which makes us all the more optimistic for the race. However, we still have two qualifying sessions ahead of us and we’ll keep pushing.”
Team Project 1 rounded out the session in fifth place showing promising pace, but Jörg Bergmeister believes there is still more pace to be found if they can get a clear lap.
“Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a really fast lap in. It started well, my sector times were good, but then I got held up by traffic in all three laps and that made a fast time impossible.” commented the German.
Two-time IMSA champion Christina Nielsen enjoyed her time on track as the Ebimotors team continue to find their way in the WEC, “I think the first laps at night are fascinating for every driver. The temperatures drop and the tyres offer increasingly more grip.
“We tried the soft and extra-soft tyres, both compounds felt good. Driving in the dark on the Le Mans racetrack with a lot of traffic is very tricky. You probably only really find your rhythm when you’ve driven one or two night stints during the race.”
The third Proton Porsche 911 RSR was the slowest car of the class, but Patrick Long revealed that the team were looking at the bigger picture rather than going full out in the first session. “We didn’t attempt a fast lap because we’re working on a setup for the race. And we’ll continue to do this in the next two qualifying sessions.”
View the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans archive to catch up with all of the action.
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