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Le Mans Road to Le Mans

Makowiecki shrugs off "politics" after Toyota names Porsche as Le Mans favourite

Porsche driver Frederic Makowiecki is keen to steer away from "political games" after several key Toyota figures branded the German manufacturer as favourite for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

The 2024 World Endurance Championship has got off to a remarkable start for the Porsche brand, with its cars taking a 1-2-3 in Qatar, a double podium at Imola and a 1-2 at Spa-Francorchamps.

The results have led Toyota driver Sebastien Buemi to remark last week: "If they're not the favourites, who is? It's too easy saying they're not the favourites when they had a 1-2-3, they had a customer car win…"

The Penske works outfit's three cars were placed inside the top four at the Test Day, with Porsche ending up seven tenths clear of nearest rival Toyota. "I think it’s clear," Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director David Floury stated. "I would think if Porsche doesn’t win they have done a pretty bad job. They have the edge in every aspect from what we can see."

Sharing the works #5 Porsche with Matt Campbell and Michael Christensen, Makowiecki said that he wasn't surprised to see so many 963s at the front, implying that Porsche "have learnt from the past".

"We have developed our test plan, we're honest people who want to focus on the work we have to do. Politics isn't really determining, what we want is to be sure of what we do," he added.

When Motorsport.com mentioned Toyota branding Porsche as the favourite to the Frenchman, he insisted: "Being quite political and starting to want to put pressure on others, that's nice and all. Right now, when you see what Toyota did after three laps in preliminary testing, they don't compare unfavourably to us at all.

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Frederic Makowiecki

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Frederic Makowiecki

Photo by: Marc Fleury

"These little, somewhat political games – I think it would be simpler at some point if we stopped them and everyone lay their cards on the table. But that's not something easy. We'll have a real view of everyone's performance level in the first hour of the race."

Makowiecki then drew a comparison with the GTE Pro era, featuring excitingly tight racing but Balance of Performance shenanigans as well, though the veteran stopped short of mentioning this particular topic by name.

"I come from a GT period when we saw some phases, some races when at some point we ended up with cars whose performance levels were really heterogeneous," he said.

"Especially cars that would suddenly find two or three seconds a lap, cars that were able to have higher top speed when it's warm than when it's cold. This doesn't exist. There are physical laws, you don't get more horsepower when it's warm than when it's cold. If anyone has found this, respect to them!"

Christensen agreed with his team-mate and reckoned that branding Porsche as the favourite was "a stretch".

"Why would we be favourites suddenly, not even being close last year?" the Dane wondered to Motorsport.com. "And when you look at BoP, even though we are not supposed to talk about it, I don't see a reason why we should be the favourites either.

"I do think that we are stronger than last year, and I really wish that we can fight for the victory or podium. Last year, we were not even close. That's what my goal is, my goal is to be in the fight – and if we are in the fight, we have a chance."

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

When asked who would be the favourite then, Christensen replied: "For me, you can't disregard Ferrari. Who knows how fast they could go if they want to? They won last year right in the first year with the car. For sure they improved also from last year, why should they not?

"They are definitely a favourite, together with Toyota in my opinion. Toyota for sure are stronger than last year and they were already fighting for the victory against Ferrari. Why would Toyota not be the favourite in my opinion?"

Additional reporting by Basile Davoine

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