Le Mans, France, (June 8, 2022) – Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Julien Andlauer (France), and Thomas Merrill (Salinas, Calif.) will start the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the top ten on the LMGTE Am grid on Saturday.
Andlauer had the wheel of the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR for a red flag and rain shortened qualifying. The Frenchman was the fastest in the first practice session of the day posting a time of 3:55.082 and was looking to get the car into the fast six Hyper Pole class to go for overall pole in LMGTE Am (the top six qualify for Hyper Pole). He did an installation lap, the team put on fresh Michelin rubber and sent him back out. He posted a time good for tenth with more speed in the car then, a red flag for a crash stopped the action then, the rain came. His lap time of 3:54.912 will have him starting tenth in class for Saturday’s 4 p.m. CET green flag.
After qualifying the team returned from the dinner break for the week’s first night laps. All three drivers cycled through the red, white, and blue WeatherTech Racing Porsche to get a look at the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe layout in the dark. The team finished the night running a best time of 3:56.780.
“Qualifying wasn’t really what we wanted,” Andlauer said. “Starting in the top five and making Hyper Pole would have been the goal. But conditions out there were difficult. We chose to warm-up the car with a lap and then put the new tires on, then we ran out of time with the red flag and the rain. Pretty unfortunate, but it is part of the game. What is most important is we have the WeatherTech Porsche ready for the race.”
MacNeil got solid seat time today.
“It was a good day for me,” MacNeil said. “I was able to get in a lot of laps during the day and into the night. No real drama during my stints. We are working on the car getting it right for all three of us. The Proton team is giving us everything we need, and we will be ready for race day on Saturday.”
Merrill got his first taste of Le Mans at night.
“I always like driving at night, here it is extra special because it is proper dark out there,” Merrill said. “It is pretty peaceful out on the Mulsanne. Then coming into Indianapolis, it is tons of fun! They gave me a nice long stint in the car tonight, which was great. The crew is doing a great job with car and that is confidence inspiring for me.”
The team will return to the track for more practice tomorrow in preparation for the 4 p.m. CET start on Saturday, June 11.