The Dempsey Del Piero Racing Le Mans entry is being fielded in a partnership with the Proton Competition racing team from Germany. Dempsey, along with his longtime co-driver and joint team owner Joe Foster have bolstered their efforts by bringing-in experienced fellow American and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long.
Indeed it was Long who posted the third fastest time in the GTE-AM class driving the team’s No. 77 Dempsey Del Piero Racing with Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Long’s best lap of 4:04.006 trailed only the leading Aston Martin Vantage V8s that swept both of the top spots in GTE-AM.
The test day saw challenging wet and dry conditions, Dempsey’s longest stint on track run was nose-to-tail with Larbre Competition Corvette driver Ricky Taylor, the duo steadily climbed the GTE-AM order during the 10-laps.
“It’s great to be back, we are really thankful to be here, and I forgot how much fun it is to be at Le Mans,” said Dempsey. “It was fun running with Ricky Taylor, Patrick Long is such a talented driver and Joe has worked so hard just to get us back here, he has really stepped it up, and is always there for us. Really, this is just a celebration of just being here.”
Dempsey and Foster are making their return to Le Mans following a ninth-place finish in 2009 in a GT2 AF Corse Ferrari F430 but had their first experience of the circuit in the rain on Sunday.
“I could feel my experience from 2009, but it was a little challenging at first in the rain, to relearn the track, but it was also really important to have that opportunity in the wet,” added Dempsey. “The last time here I didn’t really have any time on a wet track.”
Foster said he also used the tricky weather conditions as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how the car performed with the Michelin tires.
“It rained most of the day, there was a tiny bit of dry running near the end but we each got like two dry laps, literally. It really rained all day but we didn’t put a foot wrong and didn’t touch anything, nothing hard any way. It gave us a chance to try some tire stuff with the Michelins and some experimental setups and that was very valuable.”
Long said he was happy to share his experience with the team and felt they were well prepared for the race following the productive test.
“Watching Joe and Patrick Dempsey work together this weekend, they have formed a partnership and a friendship and I am happy to offer my experience in the 911 RSR. This being my 10th time here at Le Mans for the race, anything that I have learned is an open book to these guys. We have really clicked and jelled quickly and that and this test has us really confident for the race.”
Dempsey and his co-drivers were also kept busy with media and promotional activities on Saturday with the team’s only official press conference attracting a full house of international media.
“We are the only All-American driving team and I think that means a lot to all of us,” concluded Dempsey. “The history and heritage of that is so impressive and hopefully we can leave a mark and make a contribution in that great legacy.”
The team will now shift its focus to the start of race week activities which begin with scrutineering on June 16–17, followed by practice and qualifying on June 19–20. By James Foreman