Le Mans, France, (August 20, 2021) – Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) are seven hours into the 24 hours of Le Mans and running sixth in LM GTE PRO.
Vanthoor had the wheel of the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR for the start of the race in rainy conditions. The ACO officials added two extra pace laps until the field of 61 cars went full green. The Belgian drove the red, white, and blue Porsche up to third prior to the first pit stop. Handing over to Bamber he was able to keep the Proton Competition crewed Porsche battling with the top LM GTE PRO cars. MacNeil took over for a double and was able to manage a sudden rainstorm on slick tires while cars were going off all around the 8.5-mile circuit.
“The start was very tricky,” Vanthoor said. “We started on wet Michelin tires as it was raining pretty hard. The race director gave us a couple of extra warm-up laps, which helped get heat in the tires. The track dried out quick. I felt really good. The others are very quick on the straight. I was able to overtake and move-up a few positions. Long way to go.”
“My first stint was really good,” Bamber said. “I think the team made some really good strategy calls in mixed conditions. We set out to be aggressive. I think we are the third best car at the moment. So now we have to soldier on. Cooper has a couple of stints then Laurens and I through the night. We have to keep pushing. There’s been a lot of drama already. We have to keep fighting and digging.”
“My first double stint is in the books,” MacNeil said. “Definitely not easy. I lost a bit of time early in the run and then was able to get into a rhythm and run some consistent lap times. Le Mans is Le Mans and the skies opened up and I was driving around at 180 mph in the rain with slick Michelin tires on the WeatherTech Porsche. I managed to keep the car on the racetrack and stay in a fairly competitive position with no real issues. It’s good to get that first run under my belt. Looking forward to my next time out.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is being broadcast live on MotorTrend TV and can be heard on RadioLeMans.com.