Kévin Estre plants Porsche 963 on pole position at Le Mans

Kévin Estre plants Porsche 963 on pole position at Le Mans

13/06/2024 - The Porsche Penske Motorsport works team will tackle this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans from pole position. In the so-called Hyperpole – the final shootout for the best grid spots – Kévin Estre set the fastest time in the No. 6 Porsche 963.


This hands Porsche it’s 19th pole position in Le Mans. In the race, the Frenchman will share the cockpit of the hybrid prototype with Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor and three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer from Germany. These three currently lead the drivers’ standings in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In the LMGT3 class, UK driver Alex Malykhin qualified Manthey PureRxcing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R on P2.

The so-called Hyperpole shootout for the best eight grid positions for the 92nd edition of the endurance classic was packed with drama and tension. At first, the final qualifying session was delayed by 35 minutes due to repairs to the track barriers. When the track went green, a battle for pole position unfolded – only to be halted by a red flag 20 minutes later. The race director then restarted the session for 7:41 minutes. The extreme pressure brought out the best in Porsche works driver Kévin Estre. In a last-gasp bid, the 2018 Le Mans class winner turned the fastest lap time of the day in 3:24.634 minutes. 

“Unbelievable – the 19th pole position for Porsche in Le Mans,” grins Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “That was incredibly close. When the track reopened after the red flag, we only had time for two flying laps. Everything came together perfectly: The tyres were in their optimum operating window, and Kévin made the most of it. Pole is a fantastic confirmation of the team’s hard work. Now, we need to maintain a consistently fast pace over 24 hours of the race.”

“First place is unreal, it’s yet to really sink in for the whole team,” says Urs Kuratle, summarising his emotions. The Director Factory Racing LMDh adds: “Huge congratulations to everyone. What the engineers, mechanics and drivers have achieved on the journey to this pole position is tremendous. It’s wonderful to see the relief on their faces.”

“What a day for Porsche Penske Motorsport,” states Roger Penske, founder of the Penske Corporation. “Last year we came to Le Mans and weren’t quite up to speed. This year the world looks a lot brighter – that’s thanks to everyone in the team, the Porsche Motorsport staff and our strong partners. Kévin’s incredible lap gives us all another huge boost as we head into the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

In the first hunt for top times on Wednesday, only one of the three Porsche 963 fielded by Porsche Penske Motorsport qualified for the Hyperpole shootout for the best grid positions. The 511 kW (695 PS) sister cars with the starting numbers 5 and 4 will head into the race on Saturday from positions 10 and 19. “After our disappointment on Wednesday with only one car advancing to the top 8, today’s result was the perfect follow-up,” says Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport. “That also makes us the first to achieve pole positions at the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Le Mans all in the same year. It’s one hell of an accomplishment! We’re now determined to turn the pole position into victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.” 

Despite qualifying for the shootout after securing eighth in yesterday’s session, the No. 12 customer-run Porsche 963 was unable to take part in today’s Hyperpole. “Our car was so badly damaged in an accident in the second free practice session on Wednesday evening that we had to change the chassis,” explains Dieter Gass, Team Principal of Hertz Team Jota. “The extensive repairs meant there was no way we could participate in the Hyperpole session. We’re now systematically preparing the car for the race.” The Porsche 963 fielded by the British customer team is expected to be ready for the warm-up on Saturday at noon. The hybrid prototype will head into the race from the fourth grid row. 

The Manthey PureRxcing customer squad also achieved a top result in the LMGT3 class. Alex Malykhin secured the second grid spot at the wheel of the No. 92 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The UK driver shares the cockpit with former Porsche Junior Klaus Bachler from Austria and Joel Sturm from Germany. Manthey EMA’s second 911 will tackle the race from P16 in the GT class.

“Racing for Charity”: Porsche donates towards helping ill children 

The sports car manufacturer will donate 750 euros for each lap completed by the three works-run Porsche 963 racing cars in Le Mans. After the motorsport highlight of the year, the total amount will be donated to three non-profit organisations that, among other things, support and care for seriously ill children worldwide: Kinderherzen retten e.V., Interplast Germany e.V. and the Ferry Porsche Foundation.

TV coverage and live streaming of the race

The 92nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway this coming Saturday, 15 June at 4 pm. The official apps of the FIA WEC and the Le Mans organiser ACO offer a fee-paying live stream and live timing.

Drivers’ comments on the Hyperpole

Kévin Estre (Porsche 963 #6): “It’s an indescribable feeling to be on pole at Le Mans. The team put a mega car on the track for me. Things got really stressful at the end. There was only just enough time on the clock for two hot laps and the car was almost out of fuel. But it was a lot of fun to drive the Porsche 963 with the tyres in the ideal operating window. I simply stayed on the gas and pulled off the lap. I’m so proud – of the pole and the amazing work from the entire team over the past few months. Now, we get to start the biggest race in the world from the very front!”

Alex Malykhin (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): “The car felt great in the Hyperpole. It was a real pleasure to drive the Porsche 911 GT3 R – our team did a first-class job. We were still a little dissatisfied in the first practice sessions, but we’ve taken a very important step. Now, we’re starting the race from the front row of the LMGT3 class. That allows us to avoid the mad scramble of cars in the midfield at the start of the race."

Hyperpole results

Hypercar class:

1. Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor (F/D/B), Porsche 963 #6, 3:24.634 minutes

2. Lynn/Bamber/Palou (UK/NZ/E), Cadillac #2, 3:24.782 minutes

3. Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon (F/NL/NZ), Cadillac #3, 3:24.816 minutes

8. Ilott/Stevens/Nato (UK/UK/F), Porsche 963 #12, DNS

LMGT3 class:

1. Schandorff/Iribe/Millroy (DK/USA/UK), McLaren #70, 3:58.120 minutes

2. Bachler/Malykhin/Sturm (A/UK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 3:58.928 minutes

3. Petrobelli/ten Voorde/Yolic (I/NL/TR), Ferrari #66, 3:58.938 minutes


Two Porsche 963 have advanced into the so-called ‘Hyperpole’ in qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In this 30-minute session, the eight fastest drivers in each category will make a bid for pole position on Thursday at 8 pm. Kévin Estre qualified the No. 6 Porsche 963 for the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team. As eighth quickest, the Hertz Team Jota outfit will send one of the hybrid prototypes from Weissach into the Hyperpole session, too. In the LMGT3 class, Austria’s Klaus Bachler progressed into the critical shootout at the wheel of Manthey PureRxcing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R.

In ideal weather conditions with scattered clouds and an air temperature of almost 20 degrees Celsius, the qualifying got underway with a jostling congregation at the pit exit. The reason: whoever is first on the racetrack has the clearest run in the early stages and thus the chance of advancing into the Hyperpole on Thursday. Right from the start, many competitors set impressive lap times. For this session, the three Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 were driven by the works drivers Nick Tandy from Great Britain (No. 4), the Australian Matt Campbell (No. 5) and Kévin Estre. At the wheel of the No. 6 car, the Frenchman qualified for the Hyperpole in 3:25.501 minutes. His Porsche 963 currently ranks first in the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. The sister cars, which also put out 511 kW (695 PS), are expected to start the 24-hour race on Saturday at 4 pm from positions 10 and 19.

“That was a close and gripping qualifying session with a tightly packed field in the Hypercar class,” stated Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “We would’ve preferred to have had more works-run Porsche 963 reach the Hyperpole, so we’re disappointed. We now need to look at the results and draw the appropriate conclusions with a view to the race on Saturday. Unlike in previous practice sessions, I think we got a better idea in the qualifying of how we stack up against the competition and we have some orientation in this regard.”

“In the end, the top eight were separated by just seventh tenths of a second – that gives a clear indication of just how close the qualifying was on this 13-kilometre course,” explains Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. Our number 6 car made it into the top 8, the other two works cars simply couldn’t get a clear run. Nick Tandy was particularly unlucky in our number 4 car and so was Matt on his second flying lap. We’re getting good feedback from the drivers about the performance of our cars so we’re feeling optimistic as we head into the upcoming race.”

Hertz Team Jota’s No. 12 Porsche also made it into the Hyperpole thanks to Callum Ilott (UK). As all the lap times of another competitor were subsequently cancelled, the customer team moved up to eighth place. In P17, the British team’s second hybrid prototype missed out on advancing into the next heat, as did the identical racing car fielded by Proton Competition, in which former Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer from France qualified 14th.

Statistics, drivers’ comments, schedule

Porsche takes on this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans (15/16 June) as the most successful manufacturer. Before the 92nd edition of the classic gets underway, teams and drivers prepared for the unique characteristics of the Circuit des 24 Heures at an official test day last Sunday (9 June). Public roads make up a good nine kilometres of the 13.626-kilometre-long circuit. They are only closed to everyday traffic for the practices, qualifying and race. Racing cars from the Stuttgart sportscar manufacturer have contested the world’s largest endurance race since 1951. This year, more than 320,000 spectators are expected.

The Le Mans event marks the annual highlight on the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC calendar. The first running of the race was in 1923 to showcase automotive innovation, durability and performance. The only time the classic was not contested was in 1936 due to a general strike in France as well as during WWII and the reconstruction between 1940 and 1948. The famous 24 Hours of Le Mans will be contested at the Sarthe for the 92nd time this year.


Porsche is keen to add to its illustrious record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the 92nd edition of the world’s biggest endurance race, the three Porsche 963 racing cars fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team are targeting their 20th outright victory. For each lap completed by the three factory cars, Porsche will donate 750 euros towards the “Racing for Charity” initiative.

A total of 23 prototypes from nine different brands, including three customer Porsche 963 from Hertz Team Jota and Proton Competition, will pit themselves against each other in the top Hypercar class. In the new LMGT3 category, 23 vehicles from nine manufacturers will also battle for victory. Porsche is represented in this class by two 911 GT3 R entries from its Manthey partner team.

To increase the chances of clinching its 20th overall win, Porsche Penske Motorsport again fields three Porsche 963 this year. The works cars can be differentiated by the colours of their wing mirrors, the Porsche lettering on the windshield and the rear fin. As usual, those parts of the two regular cars from the FIA WEC will be painted black (No. 5) and white (No. 6). The No. 4 vehicle will feature red accents on those areas. Top drivers from the Porsche works squad will crew the hybrid prototypes from Weissach. The odds in the fiercely contested Hypercar class also look promising for the three identical racing cars from the customer teams Hertz Team Jota and Proton Competition.

Liana Picard PR Manager Porsche Belgium, D'Ieteren Automotive N.V/S.A.




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