- Both works cars accomplish technically flawless race
The Porsche Penske Motorsport works team has finished the 6 Hours of Monza in fourth and seventh.
Stuttgart. In midsummer temperatures of around 34 degrees Celsius, Porsche Penske Motorsport's two works cars lined up on the grid for the six-hour race in eighth and tenth position. The Porsche 963 campaigned by the customer team Hertz Team Jota had started from ninth position, with Proton Competition's hybrid prototype on P12. By the first corner, all four had gained one position due to a collision in front of them. When a first safety car period ended after just under 30 minutes of racing, Porsche Penske Motorsport opted for different strategies for both race cars: The No. 6 car driven by Laurens Vanthoor pitted early only to refuel, while the No. 5 sister car completed its first stint as scheduled. Jota also called António Félix da Costa in early.
From that point on, the positions in the overall standings swapped constantly depending on the pit stop rhythm. The 506 kW (688 PS) Porsche 963 cars at times managed to maintain the pace of the leading pack and repeatedly appeared among the frontrunners. The No. 5 car shared by the works driver trio Fréderic Makowiecki (France), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Dane Cameron (USA) battled to the end for fourth place on the 5.793-kilometre Grand Prix circuit but missed out by almost 14 seconds.
Luck was not on the side of Frenchman Kévin Estre, André Lotterer (Germany) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium). When Estré attempted to pit for a routine stop after a good two hours of racing, the lights at the entrance to the pit lane switched to red a few seconds earlier due to a full course yellow – caused by the accident with an LMP2 car. In order not to run out of fuel, the Frenchman had to make a so-called emergency stop. However, only a small amount of fuel is allowed as a bridging measure and tyre changes are prohibited. This made a second stop necessary, costing valuable time, one lap and the contact to the top. The No. 6 ultimately took the flag in seventh place.
"Fourth and seventh place reflect what we can currently achieve with our performance," emphasises Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. "We delivered a flawless race, and we were also very good from a technical and strategic standpoint. However, the yellow phases had their snags for us. Our customer team Jota had to deal with some difficulties during the race. Congratulations to Proton Competition: they were even able to lead for a short period at their maiden start in the big class. Then, they encountered technical hiccups, which we now need to analyse in greater detail."
Drivers' comments on the race
Dane Cameron (Porsche 963 #5): "Fourth place for our number five Porsche here in Monza – in the end, it was a good day. We made smart tactical decisions during the race and executed them well. We were pretty much at the limit of our current capabilities. It's a pity that towards the end, our chances of a podium finish slipped through our fingers like they did at Spa. Nevertheless, we made good progress with the Porsche 963 and with the development of the team."
André Lotterer (Porsche 963 #6): "The race actually went smoothly for us. I'm pleased with my double stint. It was similar for my teammates. Unfortunately, we had some really bad luck with the yellow phases at the beginning. The field had split into two groups and our group was ahead. When there was an accident, the pit lane closed two seconds before we could get in – we were supposed to pit at exactly that moment. That threw us completely out of the race."