Porsche is expecting to have a significant presence of GTE machinery in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with as many as ten mid-engined 911 RSRs possible between factory and privateer entries.
The German manufacturer has made the new-for-2017 car available to customers next year, with at least six confirmed orders for entrants across the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.
Coupled with the possibility of four, or potentially five works-entered 911 RSRs in GTE-Pro, it could result in the largest grid of Porsche GT cars in the French endurance classic in nearly 15 years.
A total of 11 Porsche 911 RSR or RS models were entered in the 2004 event, in a race that was won by the White Lightning Racing entry of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Sascha Maassen.
Porsche GT factory motorsports director Marco Ujhasi would not go into detail on his total entry projections, admitting it very much is dependent on invites handed out by the ACO Selection Committee.
“It’s always nice seeing many Porsches on the grid,” Ujhasi told Sportscar365. “It’s an invitation thing. We’re waiting for the numbers we are allowed to go.
“Hopefully it’s a higher number than we want to have.
“I guess we’ll have some decisions quite soon. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of RSRs on the grid.”
Sportscar365 has learned Porsche could now opt to request five GTE-Pro entries, spread between Manthey and CORE autosport-entered cars, including a possible ‘legends’ car, according to one source.
When asked about the potential for as many as five works entries, Ujhasi said, “What do you call a factory car?
“Like always, we will announce our plans and wishes [at the ‘Night of Champions’ next month]. Not always the dream comes true.
“Maybe [it will be] a compromise in between. But we will hear something what our plan is.
“With the cars going into customer hands, I’m quite confident we’ll see a lot of cars in Le Mans.”
Seven Customer Cars Expected
A seventh GTE customer car, meanwhile, is now expected following Porsche’s initial allocation of six mid-engined 911 RSRs for next year.
It comes following confirmation that longtime Porsche single-make entrant Project 1 has acquired a car.
The German squad joins Proton Competition, which has four confirmed cars, a single Gulf Racing entry and a to-be-announced Asian customer, believed to be Craft-Bamboo Racing, in Porsche’s customer GTE lineup.
Despite the incredible demand for the car, Ujhasi said they will maintain limited sales in order to focus on providing sufficient customer support.
“I guess we could sell many more but it’s always a question about resources and parts,” he said. “We want to offer good service to all the customers.
“It will not be too many cars. If you stay with the official number [of six], then you’re quite close at least.”