Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#75), Mathieu Jaminet (F), Felipe Nasr (BR), Nick Tandy (UK)
No. 75 Porsche 963 tackles 24-hour race from P4
Works team sister cars on positions seven and nine
Over 250,000 spectators expected at the 100th anniversary of the classic
The Porsche Penske Motorsport works team has clinched positions four and seven in the hyperpole session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In their Porsche 963, Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy tackle the race on the 13,626-kilometre Circuit des 24 Heures from the second grid row. Frédéric Makowiecki, Michael Christensen and Dane Cameron line up on the grid three positions behind. The No. 6 hybrid prototype shared by Kévin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor heads into the endurance classic from position nine.
In summer air and asphalt temperatures, drivers had 30 minutes on Thursday evening to fight for the best grid spots. Porsche Penske Motorsport had nominated Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki to drive the No. 5 Porsche 963, with Felipe Nasr from Brazil at the wheel of the No. 75 car. Makowiecki only stepped in after a good 15 minutes to increase the chance of a clear run. At the end of his single flying lap, the No. 5 Porsche got caught behind a rival, lost critical fractions of seconds and clocked a time of 3:25.176 minutes.
Nasr waited three more minutes before making his attempt. When the session was red-flagged due to a burning vehicle on the Mulsanne straight, his pursuit came to an abrupt halt. With barely more than five minutes remaining on the clock, the hyperpole was restarted. While Makowiecki didn't make another attempt, the Brazilian went out on the track a second time with a fresh set of Michelin racing tyres. His time of 3:24.531 minutes planted him and his teammates Nick Tandy (United Kingdom) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) on the fourth grid spot. On Saturday, the trio Makowiecki, Dane Cameron (USA) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) line up on the grid in seventh place.
The No. 6 car shared by works drivers Kévin Estre from France, André Lotterer from Germany and Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium will tackle the centenary race of the world’s largest endurance event from P9. In Wednesday’s qualifying session, the trio narrowly missed out on making it into the hyperpole for the eight fastest hypercars. The Porsche 963 fielded by the customer team Hertz Team Jota heads into the classic from position 16. A total of eight Porsche 911 RSR contest the GTE-Am class.
“Fourth place – huge congratulations to the team,” says Urs Kuratle, Director of Factory Motorsport LMDh. “We didn’t necessarily assume that we would have the best-placed hypercar on the grid according to the LMDh regulations. But we still fought hard for it. The red flag during the session helped us a bit. It gave us a chance to sort ourselves out and make another attempt with the No. 75 car. We just had to make sure that the car returned with enough fuel in the tank. A huge thank you also goes to our people back home in Weissach. We’ve had a difficult week with unplanned activities and we received great support from them that went above and beyond what’s normal.”
“It’s a nice outcome for us with grid positions four and seven,” states Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director at Porsche Penske Motorsport. “Because of the red flag, we had to change our plans at short notice and quickly update our fuel and energy calculations to give Felipe Nasr a chance of a flying lap. He and Fred Makowiecki did a great job. Now we’re excited to the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
On Friday, 9 June, the cars contesting the 24-hour race will take a break from the racetrack. Instead, the focus at the 91st edition of the endurance classic will turn to the traditional drivers’ parade in the city centre of Le Mans, which this year begins at 2 pm. An hour before the green flag, Porsche invites media representatives to a press conference in the adjacent Théâtre des Quinconces. At 6:30 pm, fans are treated to another driver parade in front of the main grandstands at the start-finish straight. The race gets underway on Saturday at 4:00 pm (CEST).
Drivers’ comments after the hyperpole session
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 963 #5): “The red flag threw a spanner in the works for me, as did the fact that I was held up by a slower vehicle at the end of my flying lap. But it doesn’t matter, qualifying for a 24-hour race isn’t that critical. It’s more important that we have a good car over the whole race distance.”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #75): “That was really intense. We only had enough fuel on board for exactly two flying laps. When the red flag came out on my first run, we first had to work out whether we’d have enough fuel for another attempt. There was a lot of discussion behind the scenes, but in the end, the guys did an awesome job and made it possible for me to turn a second timed lap. I then drove my heart out and pushed to the absolute limit. I’m very pleased with the fourth grid spot and I’m happy for the team.”
Grid positions for the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours
1. Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen (I/E/DK), Ferrari #50, 3:22.982 minutes
2. Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi (I/UK/I), Ferrari #51, 3:23.755 minutes
3. Hartley/Buemi/Hirakawa (NZ/CH/J) Toyota #8, 3:24.451 minutes
4. Jaminet/Nasr/Tandy (F/BR/UK), Porsche 963 #75, 3:24.531 minutes
7. Cameron/Christensen/Makowiecki (USA/DK/F), Porsche 963 #5, 3:25.176 minutes
9. Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor (F/D/B), Porsche 963 #6
16. Félix da Costa/Stevens/Ye (P/UK/CHN), Porsche 963 #38