While the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans boasted many exciting storylines, the Project 1 – AO No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR known as Rexy stole the spotlight and hearts all over the world. The Tyrannosaurus Rex RSRawr livery, with its little arms, big feet, and wide grin made its international debut at Circuit de la Sarthe, leading several hours of the most prestigious sports car race in the world, ultimately finishing seventh after suffering from a mechanical issue in the final hour.
“Seventh place wasn’t the fairytale ending for Rexy at Le Mans, but what an incredible experience our time here has been,” said AO Racing team owner and driver, PJ Hyett. “It was an absolute privilege to race the final year of the Porsche RSR at the 100-year anniversary of the race. My biggest thanks to our team and the fans around the world rooting for Rexy!”
The fan-favorite had an incredible drive, starting at the drop of the green flag. Driver Matteo Cairoli kicked the race off with a monstrous jump, leaping from 15th to first place in the LM GTE AM class by lap 12. From there, he rotated through the driving duties with co-drivers PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeannette. The trio led more laps than any car in the class, leading 49.8% of the race.
The car never left the top five until the final 50 minutes, when heartbreak struck as the car was positioned to fight for third place. A suspension issue presented itself in the right rear corner of the car, interrupting a strong triple stint. The car pitted for three laps of repairs, still able to rejoin and finish the race.
Remarkably, the No. 56 car came back to the garage at the end of the race without a mark on the Porsche’s body, in a race where over half of the class retired from contact or mechanical issues.
“Finishing the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Rexy this year is a little bittersweet,” said Jeannette. “Our goal when we showed up was to finish, but after leading almost 50% of the race and looking like we were in a spot for solid podium contention, it’s hard to be satisfied with seventh place. However, all of the drivers and team performed great. Our Porsche RSR was fast throughout all of the stages of the race and really fun to drive. We can all be proud of the effort we put forth. We’re also very excited with the response that we got from all of the fans as we introduced on a full international stage."
The American side of AO Racing next races in Watkins Glen, New York for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, June 23-15, the third endurance race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, where the team runs the Rexy livery for the full season. The next race with Project 1 in the 2023 World Endurance Cup championship will take place July 9 at 6 Hours of Monza.