This weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race is sure not to disappoint in terms of sheer entertainment. Forgoing Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Nissan for a moment, both of which will of course be making a bid for the top slot in the LMP1 class, the real action will undoubtedly be the fierce Audi/Porsche rivalry – as it has been this entire World Endurance Championship season.
But we have to pose one very important question: could this be Porsche’s year?
Considering the empirical evidence, one can’t definitively call it one way or the other. Sure, Porsche has come close – but ultimately failed – to beat Audi in every race this season. Porsche works driver Mark Webber cites a serious of unfortunate “own goals” as the cause for this, and looking back through all the results, he certainly has a point.
Porsche has also dominated in both free practices and in qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, and according to Fox Sports, Porsche driver Neel Jani even achieved a new qualifying record for the circuit’s current configuration: 3 minutes, 16.89 seconds. But then, one may recall all the previous races this season at which the Porsche 919 Hybrid dominated in practice or qualifying, and yet failed to produce a win.
Plus, with an endurance race as long as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, durability and consistency are every bit as important as speed. And securing the pole position matters much less.
Still, the Porsche factory drivers were enthused with the results. Neel Jani of the No. 18 Porsche 919 expressed surprise that he managed such a blistering pace, remarking that his “initial lap was good, but not perfect… That it was still the fastest lap of the day and a qualifying record is very pleasing.”
His teammate in the No. 17 car, Mark Webber, was similarly satisfied, saying that “qualifying was the first time that we had run properly in the night with dry conditions, so all the drivers were able to get a feeling for the track and the car.”
He continued with a bit of false modesty: “We didn’t push too much for qualifying, because here in Le Mans it is not so important to start from pole position. We focused on the race, because that’s what matters.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 9 am Eastern Time this Saturday, the 13th of June. May the most solid team win.