Kevin Estre: “A podium would be a good result for us, but at Le Mans, the goal is to win.”
The French driver takes stock of Wednesday’s action at Le Mans, where the Porsche Penske Motorsport No.6 failed to qualify for Hyperpole before clocking the fastest lap during FP2.
In his own words, Kevin Estre feels “a great deal of frustration” about Wednesday’s action at the Sarthe Circuit. The works Porsche he shares with André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor was only the ninth-fastest Hypercar during yesterday’s qualifying session. The No.6 was the only Penske Motorsport-operated Porsche 963 that failed to qualify for Hyperpole. “We were really unlucky with all those slow zones, red flags and traffic. I think that, pace-wise, we could have qualified but we failed to do so.”
Fortunately, the drivers and engineers of the No.6 had something to smile about last night. Vanthoor was the fastest man on track during the first of the two night practices. “We need to be careful of times clocked in Free Practice, because we don’t know our opponents’ program”, adds Kevin. “But it bodes well for the race. We found a good compromise for chilled night time conditions. Now, we need to know what strategy to adopt for warmer weather.”
The Lyon-born 2019 LMGTE Pro FIA WEC World Champion admits that Porsche are not yet able to compete with Toyota and Ferrari when it comes to pure performance. About three-quarters of the Le Mans’ track is driven at full throttle, so a few more kmph make all the difference between a good car and an excellent one. “So far, we tend to be less fast in Sector 2, the one with the Mulsanne straights and the chicanes”, Kevin observes. “I have followed a Ferrari Hypercar during qualifying, and it’s clear it’s more at ease than us in the straights. In the Porsche corners and in the first curvy sector, we look roughly competitive.”
Given the current hierarchy at Le Mans since Testing Day last week, with Toyota and Ferrari fighting at the top and tight gaps between Cadillac and Porsche, what can the record holder of overall wins at Le Mans hope for come Sunday afternoon? “A podium would be a good result for us, but at Le Mans, the goal is to win”, reminds Kevin. “We really put in an enormous amount of work with the engineers, at Porsche and Penske, to have the best car possible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. If we deliver a flawless race, we’ll fight for a podium. And if, eventually, we have the speed, we’ll fight for the win.”
Kevin Estre knows all about what it means to win Le Mans. In 2018, he won the LMGTE Pro with Vanthoor and Michael Christensen within the Porsche GT Team. For the very first time, he will race FIA WEC’s main event in the premier Hypercar class. “I am so proud and happy to take part in the race this year. It’s truly something amazing to experience, to drive at the Centenary of Le Mans and Porsche’s 75th Anniversary.” He knows what would be the ultimate birthday gift.