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High Expectations in Porsche’s Quest for 20th Le Mans Win

Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach on chances for 20th Le Mans overall win…

Photo: Porsche

Expectations are high for Porsche’s quest for its 20th overall 24 Hours of Le Mans win according to its motorsports boss Thomas Laudenbach, who feels they’re in position to fight for victory in this weekend’s French endurance classic.

The German manufacturer, in the second year of the Porsche 963 LMDh program, has a class-high six cars entered between the three factory-run Porsche Penske Motorsport entries as well as customer cars fielded by Hertz Team JOTA and Proton Competition.

Porsche Penske’s No. 6 machine of Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor will start from pole this afternoon following the Frenchman’s flying lap in Hyperpole.

Laudenbach credits the recent string of success, including victory in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and points lead in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, down to the work done since last year’s challenging Le Mans for the first-year organization.

“I think it’s difficult to describe all the steps we’ve made,” he said. “2023 was a tough one for us. It was the first one with this new team with PPM in partnering with Roger’s organization.

“If you look at the journey from there to now, it has been incredible steps forward in every area.

“We had some tough meetings for sure. The good thing was that we really look at [everything], no matter wha it was… the reliability of the car, operational, how we steer the whole thing, everything you need to have a good team.

“In the end it’s been great to see the results… I think you could see last year, towards the end of the season, the curve was the right one. I think we had some good results.

“If you look into 2024, we started with Daytona and I think that shows. We looked at every little detail. And from what we’ve achieved so far, the big one is still to come.

“I think we can be really proud of this joint effort with these two companies.”

Porsche has arguably been considered one of the favorites since unloading at Le Mans, with Estre also leading the way in last Sunday’s test day.

“When we come to the race track, and when two great names in racing partner to be successful in racing, it’s always to win,” Laudenbach said.

“I think we’re in good shape. We’ve made so many steps. I think we’ve got everything in the pocket and if we now really execute in the best possible way, we should be in a position to fight for the victory.

“That’s the goal, nothing else.”

When asked by Sportscar365 if there’s extra pressure hanging over Porsche given the prospects of extending its Le Mans record with a landmark 20th win, Laudenbach said: “The pressure is high, no question. It was high last year already.

“But I wouldn’t say the pressure is even higher because of this 20th victory.

“I would rather say that if we enter a series, we want to win. I think we’ve got a great name and my board has an expectation.

“We are spending a decent amount of money but I wouldn’t say [the pressure] is higher because of the 20th victory.

“We want to win that race. The first time, the 20th time, 40th time, I don’t care.

“Of course I’d love to bring the 20th victory home because that’s the next one but I wouldn’t say it’s additional pressure.

“But the tension and pressure is high because the expectations are high, from outside and inside.”

Porsche’s 20th Le Mans victory could come in a year where Team Penske won its record-extending 20th win in the Indianapolis 500.

Penske, meanwhile, is searching for its elusive first Le Mans crown.

“It would be beautiful, and also for me, probably a very special victory, if we could manage to win together with [Roger], in this partnership, really also honoring what he has achieved in his life,” Laudenbach said.

“That would be great. That would be beautiful. That would make it even sweeter if it happens.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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