Jun 19, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
Patrick Dempsey is back at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. That sentence is enough to make the entire French countryside swoon.
The actor’s racing career has really taken off in the last five years since his initial appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2009. He raced a GT2-class Ferrari F430 to a ninth-place finish with co-drivers Joe Foster and Don Kitch Jr., although Kitch took ill due mid-race which left Dempsey and Foster to bring home the car on their own for the last 12-plus hours.
Now, Dempsey’s back with his own team for the first time. The Dempsey Del Piero Racing squad, which competes full time in the American Le Mans Series in a GTC-class Porsche GT3 Cup, has partnered with the German Proton Competition team to run a 2012-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the GTE Am class at Le Mans.
Dempsey, Foster and Porsche’s lone American factory driver, Patrick Long, will race the No. 77 Porsche.
For Dempsey, having had the experience of driving here once before, he’s better prepared for the entirety of the week this year.
“You really have to pace yourself and be strong mentally because you have to really be careful in how much energy you release,” he said Tuesday in a media teleconference. “So there was something about that moment and that challenge that we wanted to come back and see if we could go to the next step.”
Dempsey and Foster had the opportunity to commit to Porsche after their prior relationship with Mazda ended at the end of 2012. With a documentary being filmed about Dempsey, the driver and Dempsey Del Piero, the team, going to Le Mans, they needed a car for this year’s race. For Dempsey, the opportunity to drive one of the legendary sports car marquees is something he couldn’t pass up.
“My first car was a 1963 356 Porsche Convertible that I still have, so I’ve always had a fond appreciation,” he said. “I just love the brand and what it represents, and now to be able to represent Porsche here at Le Mans in the RSR is such a tremendous honor. It’s forced me to step up my game because what the brand represents and what the car represents, it’s won more races than anybody else here.”
Winning is achievable for the team. Dempsey’s partnered with Italian soccer star Alessandro Del Piero in the team, and in the 14-car GTE Am class, the car is one of only two with a Porsche factory driver on board. The class regulations allow for only one pro driver of three in the car.
Long has two Le Mans class wins, with his presence also helping to spur the team forward.
“I got drafted in pretty late, and jumped in the car, found a good baseline,” Long said. “The team that we have linked up with in partnership is Proton-Felbermayr, and these guys really know what they’re doing.
“Once Patrick and Joe got in the car and picked up the RSR really quickly, I started to feel really positive about our chances, and that was sort of capped off by the test that we just had two weeks ago.”
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British driver responds to the pace shown by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in FP1 by topping the second session on Friday.
Mar 27, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT
Catch all of the action from second practice live on NBCSN and Live Extra.
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Mar 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
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Mar 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
IndyCar has a wave of younger talent in the series, who need to start winning sooner rather than later.
Mar 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Both drivers failed to race in Australia due to injury, but will return this weekend.
- Hamilton hits back by topping second practice in Malaysia 0
- Rosberg quickest in Malaysia FP1 as Hamilton hits trouble 1
- Now IndyCar’s champion, Will Power’s mindset hasn’t changed heading into 2015 0
- Alonso moves to clear up testing crash conspiracy theories 2
- NHRA Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon trades seats for a day with NASCAR counterpart Joey Logano 2
- Can IndyCar’s next generation take it to the established veterans? 1
- Fernando Alonso talks return in Malaysian GP 3