Porsche has won the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In some crazy last 5 minutes of the race, Toyota Gazoo Racing lost the victory, when the until then leading number 5 with Kazuki Nakajima behind the wheel became slower and slower during penultimate lap. Just as it crossed the line to start the final lap, it crawled to a halt, and at the same moment Porsche number 2 passed it and went on to win the race.
Nakajima tried to get the car running again and completed the final lap. However his lap time was almost 12 minutes, and that doesn’t count as finished the race, since it needs to be less than 6 minutes. Therefore Toyota #5 wasn’t classified at all.
Instead it was Neel Jani piloting Porsche #2 to victory together with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.
Toyota finished 2nd with car number 6 driven by Mike Conway, Stephan Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi, while Audi #8 with Oliver Javis, Loic Duval and Lucas Di Grassi finished 3rd.
Toyota and Porsche were battling throughout the whole race and in fact Audi was in the lead during the first few hours. All 6 factory cars have had the lead at some point during the 24 hours.
However Audi quickly ran into troubles – first with #7 and later on with #8 as well. After that it was just about survival, and no podium was anywhere near them, until the final lap of the race.
Porsche got problems with their #1 car about 1/3 into the race and lost a lot of time, that they never recovered again, and therefore lost every chance of a podium.
Rebellion Racing won the privateer LMP1 with #12 driven by Nelson Piquet jr, Nick Heidfeld and Nico Prost. They were the only finishers in that competition since Rebellion #13 had to retire Sunday morning, and Bykolles retired after a fire at the back of the car. They had been in the pits several times and didn’t even make the start of the race, so were already 1 lap down before they even hit the track.
The race was started behind the safety car because of heavy rain, and it almost lasted 1 hour until the cars were released. But when it finally was released, there was a lot of battles throughout all classes.
In LMP2 we saw Signatech Alpine #36 with Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes win ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 with Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and Will Stevens, and SMP Racing #37 with Vitaly Petrov, Victor Shaitar and Kiri Ladigyn. Especially number one and two in the class battled throughout the race, but at the end it went to the French team.
We won’t mention so much about GTE-Pro, other than it was won by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team USA #68 ahead of Risi Competizione and FCGR Team USA #69. However there has been a raft of protests in that category, so let’s see what the final results are, before we dig deeper into that. What we know for sure, is that WEC Championship leading AF Corse #71 retired from the race, which means a giant cutback of their lead. But we will have more news, as soon as we hear them.
It was a hugely disappointing race for Corvette in GTE-Pro. They didn’t have the pace at all, and Porsche lost both #91 and #92 due to mechanical issues, whereas Corvette #64 was crashed heavily by Tommy Milner Sunday morning at the entry to the Dunlop Chicane.
In GTE-Am victory went to Scuderia Corsa #62 with Bill Sweedler, Townsed Bell and Jeff Segal ahead of AF Corse #83 with Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francios Perrodo, and Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing #88 with David Heinemeier-Hansson, Kamid Al Qubaisi and Patrick Long. #88 was leading in the evening, but problems getting the tyres into their operating window especially during the night, saw them drop further and further back and never really found the window consistently again.