There were seven Porsches across five teams in two classes. And those five squads include three of the most successful Porsche GT racing teams in the current era: Flying Lizard Motorsports, Felbermayr Proton, IMSA Performance Matmut. A second place in GTE-Am was the best that could be mustered this year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, authored by Raymond Narac’s IMSA Performance crew.
For the second consecutive running of the endurance classic, it was not Porsche’s year, particularly in the GTE-Pro class. There, the 2012-spec RSRs had to be driven hard to match the race pace of the Ferraris, Corvettes, and lone Aston Martin. The #77 Felbermayr Proton entry ran at the cusp of the top-three, but gearbox woes sidelined the car after 13 hours. The struggle was even more frustrating for the #80 Flying Lizard Motorsports crew. Replacement of a broken shock during the early hours kept them at the back of the field, and an accident before the midpoint took them out of the race.
In GTE-Am, the #79 Flying Lizard 2011-spec RSR started from the pole and controlled the race early. Heavy damage sustained in the race’s fifth hour necessitated a lengthy stop. From the back of the field, the Lizards clawed their way forward, finishing a respectable fourth in class. Still, a first place finish remains elusive for the Lizard squad at Le Mans.
The IMSA Performance RSR ran a strong, consistent race. Leading GTE-Am much of the way, the team finally gave way to the winning Corvette in the race’s final half hour and settled for the second rung on the podium.
During the late night hours, some of the crew from the wrecked #80 Lizard car trekked to the far reaches of the circuit’s eight-plus miles, sneaking through the woods to stand alongside the famed Mulsanne Straight. Later, I saw one of them in the Lizard garage – Ryan Petersen (you met him earlier in the week, in Wednesday’s installment). He was grinning from ear-to-ear from the experience and talking about how amazing it was to be that close. I forget that the crew members don’t get to experience their creations in quite the same way I do. Welcome to my world, Ryan.
As for my part? From a photographic perspective, I shot the best race I’ve ever shot in 13 years at Le Mans. But I seriously need to find a better way to lead my life than tying my emotions to the race results of my favorite marque. No, seriously…
Photos by Bob Chapman/AutosportImage.com
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