Customer Porsche team's Le Mans pole a ‘kick in the arse’ to factory

Customer team HubAuto Racing taking GTE Pro pole for the Le Mans 24 Hours was “a kick in the arse” to the Porsche factory, its operations chief Alexander Stehlig said.

Customer Porsche team's Le Mans pole a ‘kick in the arse’ to factory

Taiwanese squad HubAuto took full advantage after Kevin Estre crashed his factory #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 at Indianapolis in the Hyperpole session, as Dries Vanthoor claimed an unexpected pole position.

With Estre's car out of the session, and rebuilt around a new chassis on Friday, the sole-remaining works Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni was the slowest of the five cars to set a time, 0.814 seconds down on Vanthoor's best effort.

Speaking on Saturday morning ahead of the warm-up, Porsche’s Head of World Endurance Championship Operations Stehlig welcomed the HubAuto car's pace, while lamenting the disappointing showing of its #91 entry.

Stehlig said that it had been "still chasing set-up and balance until FP3", with Bruni telling Autosport "it was like a white paper going into Hyperpole because we changed completely the car".

Asked by Autosport if it reflected badly on the factory squad to be beaten by the HubAuto crew, which only shook down the car for the first time just before last Sunday's test day, Stehlig said: "It’s a good sign for Porsche because that’s the best advertisement what we did with that [HubAuto] pole, [showing] our customer cars have the same possibilities like we factory cars.

"We have a complete open exchange, they see our data, we see their data, they see our run sheets. The performance engineers speak together, so it’s a complete open book and they have the same possibilities and this is proven by Dries with his pole.

"For sure it’s a kick in the arse of a factory team if a customer can beat #91, I think Kevin probably would have been on the way to go to pole but he had the accident.

"But for sure it’s a kick in the arse of #91 and us as a [factory] team, but to be honest competition is vital and if a customer is faster than us, he deserves it."

#72 Hub Auto Racing Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE Pro, Dries Vanthoor, Alvaro Parente, Maxime Martin

#72 Hub Auto Racing Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE Pro, Dries Vanthoor, Alvaro Parente, Maxime Martin

Photo by: Porsche

Asked for his thoughts on being beaten by the privateer crew, Bruni said it was a similar story to the recent victory in the Styrian MotoGP race by Pramac rider Jorge Martin on an equivalent Ducati to the bikes fielded by the works team.

"It’s very good for Porsche that a customer team can be on top, it shows again that Porsche gives a good package to buy a car, go racing and you are in front," the Italian told Autosport.

Read Also:

"It’s fantastic that a private team can come here, it’s like what happened in MotoGP.

"Ducati gave a best package also to Pramac and they are able to win the race with Martin and doing the pole position [in the Austrian GP].

"It means not because the works team didn’t prepare well, it’s also they gave good bikes to the other team. The customer team, they can do it."

#79 Weathertech Racing Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE Pro, Cooper MacNeil, Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor

#79 Weathertech Racing Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE Pro, Cooper MacNeil, Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor

Photo by: Marc Fleury

WeatherTech planning off-strategy approach

Factory Porsche driver Laurens Vanthoor says the WeatherTech Porsche he shares with two-time Le Mans winner Earl Bamber and Cooper MacNeil will follow "a different kind of strategy than others" to mitigate the latter's six-hour minimum drive-time requirement.

MacNeil is the only Silver-graded driver competing in the Pro class, effectively making the Proton-run machine a Pro-Am entry.

Vanthoor, who was part of the line-up that claimed Porsche's most recent GTE Pro class victory at Le Mans in 2018, told Autosport that the team "have to be realistic" that it will not be able to win by following the same approach as the all-Pro crews.

The Belgian topped night practice in both FP2 and FP4 sessions, and conceded it was "maybe part of our strategy to try and be quick there".

The Proton crew has support from long-time Porsche engineers Andrea Mercatelli and Jacques Hendrikse who would define the team's approach to using MacNeil's seat-time.

"For sure we’re going to go on a different kind of strategy than others because we’ll need to," Vanthoor said.

"If we just stick there and follow them, we’re not going to get there, so we need to try and be smart."

shares
comments

Related video

ACO extends deal with FIA to promote WEC
Previous article

ACO extends deal with FIA to promote WEC

Next article

The gentleman drivers of sportscar racing, and why gradings matter

The gentleman drivers of sportscar racing, and why gradings matter
Load comments
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Plus

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
10 things we've learned from the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours so far Plus

10 things we've learned from the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Autosport picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team by team guide Plus

Le Mans 2021: The team by team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in Le Mans' underrated class Plus

The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in Le Mans' underrated class

Kevin Magnussen will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend alongside father Jan in LMP2. But the Danes won't be the only ex-F1 drivers to appear in the hotly contested category this year.

Le Mans
Aug 20, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Plus

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload Plus

How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload

The 23-car GTE Am field promises to be one of the most open in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with the added jeopardy of managing the enthusiasm of amateur drivers to boot, as Absolute Racing Porsche driver Marco Seefried explains

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021