Porsche 919 Hybrids Settle For Second Row In Le Mans Qualifying

“We’re now facing a 24-hour race and we’re very well prepared for it.” – Matteo Cairoli

byBradley Brownell|
Porsche 919 Hybrids Settle For Second Row In Le Mans Qualifying

This weekend marks the 85th running of the 24 hours of Le Mans, and Porsche will be making their attempt to win overall for the 19th time (and third in a row). Qualifying was held across three sessions yesterday and today, and these are the combined related results of those qualification sessions. Porsche did not net pole for any of the three classes that they're participating in, but the competition is so strong this year that it's really anybody's game, and in a 24 hour race, literally anything and everything can happen. As the old adage goes, 'that's why they run the race'. Line 'em up on Saturday and try your best, boys.  

Porsche In The LMP1 Category - 


Porsche will be running just two cars at Le Mans this year, against Toyota's three. It will take a lot of luck, patience, fuel economy, strategy, and speed for them to take the win, but crazier things have happened. If you need any indication of that, just watch the final four minutes of the 2016 race. The #1 car will begin the race from third, and its sister #2 car will start fourth, side by side. With a lap time of 3:17.259 minutes, Neel Jani claimed the third fastest lap overall during Thursday night's qualifying session. Timo Bernhard set a 3:18.067 lap in the #2 car. Meanwhile, in the Toyota camp, Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi found a relatively clean traffic-free lap to set the track's fastest lap since the two Mulsanne chicanes were added in 1989 (the previous best lap being Neel Jani's pole lap in 2015, a 3:16.89), setting a blistering 3:14.791 time on medium tires. There is definitely more outright pace in all of the LMP1 cars, but nobody wants to truly show their hand. Qualifying doesn't truly matter when you have to race for 24 hours.

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: "Congratulations to Toyota and Kamui Kobayashi. We knew he would be fast but his lap was really sensational. On our side, we missed out on a front row position on the grid by a tenth of a second. Besides that, our qualifying was okay. We’re looking good over long runs and are optimistic for the race. Our target remains a third Le Mans win in a row. Thanks a lot again to the entire team for the effort so far – there is an extreme and thrilling task waiting ahead for us."

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We had another very productive day. We could optimize the cars’ set-up at various track temperatures and gained important knowledge concerning tyre choice and tyre wear for the race. Halfway through the final qualifying session, the engine temperature on the number 2 car rose. As a precaution, we stopped the car finishing the session early. Tomorrow we will dismantle the cars again, carefully inspect them, reassemble them with the final race components and try to go to sleep early. After the last two days here, we feel ready for another big Le Mans race with very strong competition.


Neel Jani, Driver, Porsche 919 Hybrid #1: “Toyota put in a great performance but we've been happy to concentrate on our race preparation rather than go for single 'qually' laps again at night. That has gone very well for us today so we're looking good for the race.

André Lotterer, Driver, Porsche 919 Hybrid #1: “We tried different tyres on the cars, getting good information for the race, especially for the night. All in all, it worked according to plan. Neel’s qualifying lap was affected by traffic, but it is not easy to get the timing right. We cannot go the speed of the Toyotas, so I hope we can go through the race without problems.”

Nick Tandy, Driver, Porsche 919 Hybrid #1: “We have done a really good job in race week so far. We've made excellent progress from the test day two weeks ago with the team working perfectly through our program over the past two days. The car is the best handling one through the corners I've ever had here at Le Mans which is a good sign. Our race pace is strong and is also consistent.“

Earl Bamber, Driver, Porsche 919 Hybrid #2: “With every lap over the past two days the car has improved. I believe we have a very good race car for the weekend. Toyota's qualifying pace is definitely impressive but our lap times looking ahead to the actual race are very good.

Timo Bernhard, Driver, Porsche 919 Hybrid #2: “I'm really looking forward to the race and can't wait for it to get started on Saturday afternoon. The balance of the car felt really good tonight - we've a really nice car for the race.

Brendon Hartley, Driver, Porsche 919 Hybrid #2: “We feel we have a really good race car. Timo for the fourth year in a row had traffic on his ‘qually’ lap. That was unfortunate but obviously today we saw a very good job from Toyota. The time from Kamui Kobayashi would have been hard to beat. I didn’t do many laps in the very last session because we had to stop early but we feel very happy with the race car.


Porsche In The GTE Pro Category - 


In the fight for GTE Pro pole, Porsche was similarly off the pace. Where all of the other cars in this field were setting sector times that would have put them within a shout of pole, Porsche's perfect ideal lap with no traffic and stringing together all of the sectors into a single run still would have set them about where they ended up, just over a second off the pole time. Aston Martin basically dominated the proceedings through practice and all three qualifying sessions. Ford did a lot of whining about balance of performance just before qualifying just 3 tenths off pole, while Ferrari, Corvette, and Aston Martin all appear to be there or thereabouts in qualifying trim. The new Porsche 911 RSR #92 turned the seventh fastest qualifying lap and will be driven in the race by Michael Christensen, Kévin Estre and Dirk Werner. The second 911 RSR, the #91 car is driven by Richard Lietz, Frédéric Makowiecki, and Patrick Pilet. That trio will start the race from the 13th grid spot.

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “The qualifying is over and now it’s time to go racing. We managed to improve from session to session, but so did our competition. In the end, the racetrack became significantly faster but unfortunately, we couldn’t make the most of it. Our main focus was on preparing for the race, especially on the tires because, with such high temperatures, they play an important role. All the vehicles in the GT classes were very close, so in this respect, we’re sure to witness an extremely exciting race.

Richard Lietz, 911 RSR #91: “Our 911 RSR ran very well. I’m happy with it. The problem in the qualifying was that we didn’t get a clear lap without much traffic. Still, now we’re concentrating on the race, where we’ll have enough time to work our way further up the field.

Frédéric Makowiecki, 911 RSR #91: “In today’s qualifying sessions we tested various things to find a perfect race setup for our 911 RSR. We managed to improve the stability at the rear yesterday and hence made great progress with the setup. Our car is now excellently balanced and we’re tackling the race feeling well prepared and confident.

Patrick Pilet, Driver, 911 RSR #91: “At the beginning of the second qualifying I drove at race pace to test the tires. That worked well and I was very happy. I then tried to turn a fast qualifying lap but I encountered too much traffic and returned to the pits. Compared to yesterday, we’ve taken a big step forward with our 911 RSR, but now we need to improve even more in the race if we want to match the pace of our strongest competitors.

Michael Christensen, Driver, 911 RSR #92: “In the last qualifying session we were eager to put in a good lap and we managed that. We could have possibly done better here or there, but I’m satisfied with our time. The car felt very good, which means that we’ve found a good setup. After turning our quick laps we concentrated on long runs to see how the tires would respond over the distance.

Kévin Estre, Driver, 911 RSR #92: “Michael clocked a good time in qualifying with fresh tires. Afterward, we concentrated on finding the best race setup. We improved again, and I was considerably faster than yesterday. This is something we can build on. Now we have to sit down together and talk about the best race strategy.

Dirk Werner, Driver, 911 RSR #92: “In the second qualifying I drove a long run so that we could get an even better idea of our tire situation. Despite the lengthy interruption, this worked very well. I had very little traffic and I got a good feel for the tires. It was important for the race preparation to see how our tires behaved over a stint. In this respect, I’m actually quite pleased. After that, I notched up a few more kilometers. For me personally, this was very helpful to familiarize myself with the circuit even more. Now I feel ready and I’m looking forward to the race.


GTE-Pro class

1. Turner/Adam/Serra (GB/GB/BRA), Aston Martin, 3:50.837 minutes

2. Calado/PierGuidi/di Grassi (I/I/BRA), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 0.191 seconds

3. Thiim/Soerensen/Stanaway (DK/DK/NZ), Aston Martin, + 0.201

4. Rigon/Bird/Molina (I/GB/E), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 0.249

5. Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon (AUS/GB/AUS), Ford GT, + 0.395

6. Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor (DK/E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.647

7. Christensen/Estre/Werner (DK/F/D), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.010

8. Mücke/Pla/Johnson (D/F/USA), Ford GT, + 1.154

9. Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani (GB/GB/BRA), Ford GT, + 1.171

10. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, + 1.180

13. Lietz/Makowiecki/Pilet (A/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.756

Porsche In The GTE Am Category - 


Patrick Long, Driver, 911 RSR #93: “The first qualifying on Wednesday evening was very difficult because we simply didn’t get a clear run. For this reason, we took a gamble today and went out in the early evening on fresh tires. That paid off. We encountered hardly any traffic for one lap and our pace was also really good. We’re happy. The race can start.

Matteo Cairoli, Driver, 911 RSR #77: “At my last attempt to turn a fast qualifying lap there were a lot of cars out on the track. On top of this, the yellow flag came out twice in the last sector. That’s why it didn’t work with pole position, unfortunately. We’re now facing a 24-hour race and we’re very well prepared for it.

GTE-Am class

1. Rees/Brandela/Philippon (BRA/F/F), Chevrolet Corvette, 3:52.834 minutes

2. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CAN/P/A), Aston Martin, + 0.390 seconds

3. MacNeil/Sweedler/Bell (USA/USA/USA), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 0.469

4. Ried/Cairoli/Dienst (D/I/D), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.538

10. Long/Al Faisal/Hedlund (USA/KSA/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.778

13. Bachler/Lemeret/Al Qubaisi (A/B/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, + 2.625

15. Wainwright/Barker/Foster (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, + 3.635