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Jun 11, 2014 - 04:42 PM
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2014 Le Mans 24: Le Mans Quest Underway For Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long as Practice Opens
Posted by: newsla on Jun 11, 2014 - 04:41 PM
Le Mans News
2014 Le Mans 24: Le Mans Quest Underway For Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long as Practice Opens


After nearly four full days of pre-race promotion and traditional Le Mans pageantry, Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long have finally taken to Circuit de la Sarthe today in the No. 77 Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR in preparation for this weekend’s 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 14 – 15.

 

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Dempsey Racing has once again partnered with top German Porsche team Proton Competition for this weekend’s race after a successful initial effort last year. This will be the third time that Dempsey, the popular Hollywood actor who has also been racing sports cars for nearly a decade, has raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Everything just leading up to the Le Mans race is like an event in itself, the downtown scrutineering, the autograph session, the ongoing interaction with the amazing fans here,” Dempsey said. “It is energizing and all-consuming at the same time, so it is always good to finally drive, finally get started in our Porsche in practice and tonight’s qualifying. It is all just an amazing and incredible experience and so happy to just have the chance to be back here again.”

Last year, Dempsey and Foster joined Long, America’s only Factory Porsche driver, for their best Le Mans result in two appearances in the French race. The team led the GTE-AM class several times and battled for a podium result before finishing fourth.

Foster joined Dempsey as the anchor drivers in a ninth-place GT2 class finish in their 2009 Le Mans debut.

“In addition to the promotion we have done a lot of background work, a lot of fitment to the car, setups and driver change practice, and we will do some more of that tomorrow,” Foster said. “Finally, we are back in the car, which is good, it’s the only place we will get some peace and quiet!”

Long, a two-time Le Mans class winner in 2004 and 2007, is part of the North American Porsche factory team this year in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. He already has a 2014 victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring, first won at Sebring in 2005, and in total, has a combined eight victories at Le Mans, Sebring, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Petit Le Mans.

“Leading into practice and the first night of qualifying I think we are in a better position than we were last year because we had better weather and more track time for Patrick and Joe a couple of weeks ago during the pre-test,” Long said. “Now it is focusing in on getting them more comfortable, making sure that our changes from the pre-test to the race fit what we think they are going to do as the track always changes a little bit between the pre-test and the race.”

Tonight’s opening qualifying session will also give the Dempsey drivers their first 2014 chance to drive at night.

“We are looking forward to getting into the car also in the dark because we didn’t have a chance to do that during the test day,” Foster said. “We will see how the lights work tonight, it will be good, looking forward to it.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts this Saturday, June 14, at 3 p.m. local time, which is 9 a.m. EDT/6 a.m. PDT in the United States. Live coverage is available in the U.S. on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, the FOX Sports Go mobile app and FOXsports.com. Saturday’s schedule – all air times EDT – is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on FOX Sports 1, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. on FOX Sports 2, and 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Go. FOX Sports 2 then picks up coverage again at 6:30 p.m. and takes the race into Sunday, June 15, until 1 a.m., at which point FOX Sports 1 takes over from 1 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. The final two hours of the race will air on FOX Sports 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. All 24 hours are also available on FOX Sports Go.

Noteworthy

- The No. 77 Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR is an all-new Porsche 991-based race car. “The 991-based RSR is a lot different than the 997-based car,” Foster said. “It’s a four-inch longer wheelbase, much different electronically, it is a totally new beast. It’s a lot of getting used to, it definitely feels different than the 997-based car, and a lot better in some ways. I haven’t had enough chance yet to fully figure it out so I am looking forward to getting some more laps the next two days.”

- As the team’s youngest but most experienced driver, Long likes where they are at as practice and qualifying gets underway. “We are calm, we are prepared and that give us more confidence, more energy and more organization,” Long said. “Things are good now, we will check back in at the end of the night and see where we are at.”


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