Estre’s «exceptional» pole lap «not 100% representative» of Porsche Le Mans pace

The Porsche Penske factory team barely got one 963 into Hyperpole with an initial eighth time in the first qualifying session for Estre, before the #7 Toyota lost its laps due to causing a red flag, promoting Jota’s #12 Porsche into the top eight.

Driving the #6 car, Estre went on to snatch pole position for the legendary World Endurance Championship race with a last-gasp Hyperpole effort which was 0.148s clear of the closest Cadillac.

Asked by if this qualifying result matched what he had been expecting or turned out somewhat better, Estre’s team-mate Andre Lotterer said it was «a bit better» and had a lot to do with his French team-mate’s remarkable lap at Circuit de la Sarthe.

«After the Test Day, we thought we were good, but after FP1, FP2 and qualifying, we saw it wasn’t so easy to be at the front,» Lotterer said. «Kevin really did an exceptional job, putting it in the top eight, in Hyperpole. We saw that not many Porsches were able to.

«Then, in Hyperpole, everything worked out well. An exceptional lap from him. It maybe is not 100% representative of the performance.»

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

Just three hypercars failed to qualify within two seconds of the fastest car in Q1 – Dries Vanthoor’s #15 BMW – despite Le Mans being a particularly long track, with 13.626km covered in under three and a half minutes by the top-class machines.

«I feel like everyone is pretty level,» Lotterer reflected. «If you don’t optimise your whole package, you quickly end up left behind.»

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The three-time Le Mans winner with Audi is not too sure what to expect in the race, with the fastest Porsche reaching 338.1km/h in the speed trap – the ranking being topped by Mikkel Jensen’s #93 Peugeot with 343.4km/h. Isotta Fraschini, Alpine, Ferrari, Toyota and BMW also went faster than Porsche, with only Cadillac and Lamborghini less rapid.

«We don’t have crazy top speed,» Lotterer admits. «We’re a bit vulnerable on this. But then, overall pace is good. I don’t know how this will translate over several hours of racing; that will be interesting.»

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