While it’s nowhere near as dramatic as the move last year to try to slow down the race-leading Ford GTs and Ferrari 488s, the 24 Hours of Le Mans once again is handing a last-minute tweak to try and figure out how to make a new car competitive. Only this year, the new Porsche 911 RSR was too slow.
Le Mans uses a Balance of Performance system to put all the different kinds of cars in its GT classes on a relatively equal playing field. It’s what lets a turbocharged monster-car like the Ford GT compete with a mid-engined Franken-911 and the always-classy Aston Martin Vantage.
To make them all somewhat equal, Le Mans can add weight, adjust the amount of turbo boost and increase restrictor size, for example. In Porsche’s case this year, perhaps they added too much weight to the LM GTE Pro-class Porsches. The fastest new Porsche 911 RSR qualified seventh with a 3:51.847—over a second slower than the pole-sitting Aston Martin Vantage’s 3:50.837.
So, the Le Mans made a last-minute tweak after qualifying to drop 8 kg (17.6 lbs) from the Porsche 911 RSRs for the race, which just started today, reports Motorsport.com. Their minimum weight was dropped to 1250 kg (2756 lbs). No other changes have been made to anyone else’s car—only to the new Porsche.
We’re just settling in to the first part of Le Mans right now, and so far, everyone’s being appropriately chill for the start of a race that has to last 24 hours. The the lone privateer LMP1, the No. 4 ByKolles Racing Enso CLM P1/01, hit a bollard that bounced into the No. 9 Toyota TS050 on the first lap. ByKolles had to slow down and come back in immediately to repair a puncture from the contact. The No. 9 Toyota just had a bit of loose bodywork from the hit, so they stayed out a bit longer before coming in for a nose change.
ByKolles is running the V6 engine from the old Nissan GT-R LM Nismo prototype that never ended up working, only sans the hybrid in their car, and in the more traditional mid-engine spot behind the driver. Maybe that engine is cursed?
Shortly after the race began, the No. 36 Signatech Alpine LMP2 had the first big off-track adventure, locking up its brakes and going off straight into the gravel at Mulsanne. It was running in tenth place. And sadly, for mega-fans of Jackie Chan, their No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 just started having starter issues.
The last-minute tweak hasn’t paid off for the fastest No. 92 Porsche yet, as it still sits in seventh place in the GTE Pro class. Everyone’s cycling through their first pit stops at the moment. The No. 7 Toyota TS050 had been leading overall off pole position, but was just passed by its sister No. 8 Toyota for the lead.