24 Hours of Le Mans – Neel Jani: "I liked the Porsche 911 RSR-19 right away"

24 Hours of Le Mans – Neel Jani: "I liked the Porsche 911 RSR-19 right away"

After 11 participations in prototypes, Neel Jani is taking on the 24 Hours in LMGTE Pro for the first time. Like his former teammate Romain Dumas, he may enter the hall of fame in two different classes, five years after his overall win with the 919 Hybrid.

From his overall win at the 2016 24 Hours with the 919 Hybrid, to his switch this year to LMGTE Pro with the 911 RSR-19, Porsche has been an important force in Neel Jani's career. For his first participation at the wheel of a GT, he will call upon teammate Kévin Estre's wealth of experience. Neel Jani: "I told him even though I'd won the 24 Hours, he is the leader of our driver line-up and I will follow his advice. What is important to me is to have good stints and not lose time. We've already decided not to concern ourselves with who will be faster."

Traffic management will be key. "It requires a different kind of focus because I have to look behind me which I've never had to do and anticipate being overtaken by prototypes. The LMGTE Ams can make us lose a lot of time because there are great drivers in the class: young talent from constructor networks, some from single-seaters. Since the cars are barely slower than LMGTE Pros, you really have to attack to overtake them. Staying behind them too long wears on the tires."

Jani's has made a successful transition into the LMGTE Pro class. He and Estre already have two wins (Spa-Francorchamps and Monza) in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship. The Swiss driver loves to win, but he also gets immense joy from pure driving: "I liked the 911 RSR-19 right away. It's a natural car, without computers for acceleration or for the hybrid system. You feel more physical driving a GT."

For the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jani and Estre will be joined by Michael Christensen, another well-known expert of Porsche's iconic car. The Swiss driver's goal is to win the LMGTE Pro class, his second after the overall victory in 2016 with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb: "In 2016, it was very special because there was a great deal of competition thanks to Toyota and Audi. This year, the LMGTE Pro class is fierce like it was in prototypes in 2015 and 2016. When you look at the results from Test Day, there is a gap of only fourth-tenths of a second between eight cars. To me, a win is a win no matter the class. And if we triumph this year, it will be a huge achievement."


PHOTOS: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, TEST DAY, SUNDAY 15 AUGUST 2021. From top to bottom: Neel Jani (with helmet next to Kévin Estre (Copyright - Juergen Tapp/Porsche) is a contender in the LMGTE Pro class with the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 (above) he shares with Michael Christensen.