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Porsche proves that pigs can fly

#92, Porsche Motorsport, Porsche 911 RSR, LMGTE Pro, driven by: Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, 24 Heures Du Mans 2018, Test, 03/06/2018,

Le Mans Test day grid line-up, 2 June 2018
Le Mans Test day grid line-up, 2 June 2018

Well it’s official, pigs can fly! The #92 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen/Kevin Estre/Laurens Vanthoor/Dirk Werner may not have topped the lap charts on Sunday at the Le Mans Test day, but they were just 1.3 seconds off their team mates in the #93 Porsche who did indeed post the fastest time of the day in class.

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor

The WEC/ACO has threatened to wield the big stick of punishment, if any of the teams, right across the board through all the classes, is found to be deliberately sandbagging. The problem is of course that in the GTE Pro class, the new Aston Martin and BMW models do not have a history with which the race authorities can calculate an accurate BoP. We saw last year at Le Mans how the two oldest cars in the GTE Pro class battled it out for the honours, making an absolute mockery of the whole exercise, so if you are going to have a BoP then it had better be right.

#93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet, Earl Bamber
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet, Earl Bamber

Putting aside the BoP issues, which we covered in our last WEC feature, it is very satisfying to see that Porsche has finally broken out of its rather stuffy corporate livery, and has rolled out some colour instead. In a salute to Porsche’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, the #91 contender was decked out in the iconic blue-and-white finish with red and gold stripes, reminiscent of the Rothmans sponsorship colours of that era. The #92 car has adopted the famous ‘Pink Pig’ design of the 917/20 from 1971. And the creative minds did not stop there, because the pit garages are also finished in the same vintage style as the cars, making for a pleasant change from the usual colour scheme.

#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Makowiecki
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Makowiecki

Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: Porsche pit garage
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: Porsche pit garage

Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: Porsche pit garage
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: Porsche pit garage

It was in the 1970s that Tony Lapine introduced the psychedelic ‘Hippie’ 917, the ‘Pink Pig’ 917/20 and the 1978 Martini ‘Moby Dick’ with its stylish swooping stripes. Race cars should display a little creativity, because this appeals to the paying public who are, after all, parting with their hard-earned dosh to see a little on-track excitement. While it is refreshing to see two of the four 911s presenting a splash of colour, you can’t help asking why not the other two cars as well.

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas, Spencer Pumpelly
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas, Spencer Pumpelly

Not to be outdone, some of the Porsche GTE Am cars also splashed out with a bit of colour. The #99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas and Spencer Pumpelly is wearing a luminous green livery, while the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche boasts a strong yellow colour.

#56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, Egidio Perfetti
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, Egidio Perfetti

It is particularly pleasing to note that Porsche heads the time sheets in both the Pro and Am classes, with Porsche holding a 1-2 position in the Pro category. Although this is just the Test day, the teams are well aware of the consequences of driving below their best, the only downside being that the ACO is likely to slap Porsche with a heavier BoP than they already have. Their only factor in their favour would be that the slowest Pro Porsche was down in 14th place in class, making it a bit unfair for the #94 car if they were to be pegged back further. The time difference between the #93 Porsche in first place and the #94 Porsche down in 14th place, is a mere 2.2 seconds, which is not a big gap covering fourteen race cars.

#94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Sven Mueller
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Sven Mueller

The GTE Am class of 911 RSR is essentially the same car as in the Pro class, they just have a slightly different BoP factor to bear, and they have slower drivers. The time difference between the top GTE Pro Porsche (#93) and the fastest GTE Am Porsche (#77) is just three seconds. The practice and qualifying times will be very interesting to watch this year for reasons already given above, basically because of the potential penalties for sandbagging.

#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Matt Campbell, Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer
Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Matt Campbell, Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer

Below are the Test day lap times for the four Porsches in the GTE Pro class:

Pos. Car No. Team Drivers Lap Time Gap
1 93 Porsche GT Team Pilet/Tandy/Bamber/Werner 3:52.551
2 91 Porsche GT Team Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki 3:52.647 +0.096
7 92 Porsche GT Team Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor/Werner 3:53.877 +1.326
14 94 Porsche GT Team Dumas/Bernhard/Müller 3:54.782 +2.231

Le Mans Test Day, 3 June 2018: #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Matteo Cairoli, Khaled Al Qubaisi, Giorgio Roda
#88, Proton Competition, Porsche 911 RSR, LMGTE Am, driven by: Khaled Al Qubaisi, Giorgio Roda, Matteo Cairoli, 24 Heures Du Mans 2018, Test, 03/06/2018,

Below are the Test day lap times for the six Porsches in the GTE Am class:

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