The Alley

Checkered flag: Porsche wins Le Mans


Porsche claimed victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the third year in succession in a dramatic fightback after all the LM P1 machines struck trouble throughout the race.

At the checkered flag Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley stood on the top step of the podium and were joined by two LM P2 entries.

The victory was Michelin’s 20th consecutive win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The No. 2 Porsche actually came from 18 laps down to take the victory after striking early trouble. They managed to take a lead with a little over an hour to go after, at one stage, it appeared an LM P2 machine was going to win overall.

Toyota had dominated the early running with the pole winning No. 7 car, but the Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stephane Sarrazin entry slowed with a clutch issues in the 10th hour of the race.

Within 30 minutes, Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 9 Toyota suffered contact with an LM P2 car at the end of the front straight and damaged a tire.

In trying to get back to the pits, the Toyota suffered bodywork damage and an eventual fire.

This looked like the race victory was all but certain for the No. 1 of Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer, but their Porsche suffered an engine issue with three hours to go. At the time, the Porsche had a lead of 10 laps over the field.

With the No. 8 Toyota also delayed, this forced Bernhard, Bamber and Hartley to begin a charge to regain the lost ground.

They eventually crossed the line to earn Porsche’s third consecutive win at Le Mans.

“I can’t believe we’ve managed to pull this one off having been at the back of the field after an hour in the pit-box,” Bamber said.

“Both Brendon and Timo have been part of the Porsche LMP programme from the beginning, while this victory is as much down to the guys in the pits. Without their hard work we wouldn’t have got back racing again so this win is down to them.”

In LM P2, the Jackie Chan DC Racing entry of Ho-Ping Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent took the win and second place on the overall podium with a margin of two laps to Nelson Piquet Jr, David Heinemeier Hansson and Mathias Beche.

In GTE-Pro, it was heartbreak for the Corvette Racing squad of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor who had fought back from a debris-induced puncture to grab the race lead on Sunday morning.

Taylor was fighting with Aston Martin’s Jonny Adam when the Scot lunched down the inside at Arnage with two laps to go.

The Aston ran wide and Taylor switched back inside and took the line but the two rivals banged wheels on the exit.

While at one stage it appeared it was the Aston which lost ground in the fight, Taylor later suffered a deflating left rear tire following the impact.

Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra took the victory with Taylor limping the Corvette home in third place.

“The whole race, everyone was so close and so evenly matched and Antonio had a cut tire and had to come in,” Magnussen said.

“That put us behind everybody and on a different strategy than everyone else. That also meant that we would not be catching the slow zones the same as everyone else and that really started to bite us.

“So, we fell further and further back. Until we got back on the same strategy as everyone else, it was an uphill fight. But the car was good and the team worked fantastic the whole time.

“Antonio and Jordan drove perfect throughout the whole race. When we perform like this as a team, it’s difficult not to be disappointed with the outcome.  Podium at Le Mans is pretty decent, it’s just not what we came for.”

Second place on the podium when to the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK squad on Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Pipo Derani.

In GTE-Am, it was a Michelin-equipped Ferrari trifecta with JMW Motorsport taking the win with ex-F1 driver Will Stevens, Dries Vanthoor and Robert Smith.

American trio Cooper MacNeil, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell took third place.

 

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