This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours was arguably one of the best in recent history, and threw up a momentous result for Porsche. The German manufacturer scored its first overall victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe since 1998 with the ‘underdog’ #19 car of Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber. Here are some of the highlights:
The 83rd running of motorsport’s most iconic and famous event kicked off at 3:00pm local time on Saturday. The #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid started at the front of the field, with the glorious sound of 55 engines roaring along the pit straight getting things started.
An early casualty was the #92 Porsche, which suffered a driveshaft failure and dropped oil at the first chicane. It spun off, causing one of the LMP1 cars to collide with an LMP2 machine. Not a great start.
The #21 Nissan LMP1 car suffered an unusual issue early on, with the left door flying open. It proved to be the least of the team’s issues – it was certainly a long 24 hours for them!
The Safety Car was deployed just before the three-hour mark after Loic Duval’s #8 Audi crashed. The LMP1 car tagged a Ferrari as Duval attempted to swerve and avoid slowing traffic. He limped back to the pits and amazingly Audi managed to fix the car – with a bit of help from some duct tape – in just four minutes! Madness!
The #1 Toyota almost ran over a Corvette pit crew member during a pit stop just over five hours into the race.
One of the best things about Le Mans is the night racing – so spectacular, so close and often throwing up drama. By 10pm local time, it was the #19 Porsche that led from the #7 and #9 Audis.
The #18 Porsche suffered two similar incidents at Mulsanne, with both Romain Dumas and Neel Jani going straight on, bouncing across the gravel and hitting the wall within the space of just a few hours. Fortunately on both occasions the car was recovered and kept going!
During the night, two GTE Am Ferrari 458 Italias suffered scary fires during pit stops – one mechanic even had to put himself out after his overalls caught alight.
The #22 Nissan was quite happily storming along the Mulsanne straight when it suddenly hit something, ripping off the engine cover and causing significant damage. It was another delay, but the car managed to continue after pitting for repairs.
It wasn’t plain sailing for Audi. A large chunk of the #7 car’s rear bodywork flew off towards the end of the lap. Not ideal!
With seven and a half hours to go, the #96 Aston Martin of Roald Goethe spun off into the wall at the exit of the Porsche curves. It was a hefty hit into a concrete wall, and the driver was sent to hospital after a trip to the medical centre, but this was only for a precautionary x-ray.
A familiar sight throughout the 24 Hour race was the green Krohn Racing LMP2 car facing the wrong way or in the gravel, usually with Tracy Krohn – a 60-year-old entrepreneur – at the wheel. Some on Twitter even joked about creating a drinking game dedicated to Krohn’s incidents…
In the final hour, there was drama in the GTE Am class as the leading #98 crashed at the chicane. It was another big hit, but the driver was able to get out of the car.
Despite a late rain shower, the #19 Porsche of Hulkenberg, Tandy and Bamber took an emotional victory, bringing Audi’s run of success to an end. The #17 car was one lap down in second place, giving the German marque a 1-2 finish.
The #7 and #8 Audis were next up, with the #18 Porsche. The two Toyotas had a rather untroubled run, with the #2 and #1 cars finishing sixth and eighth – separated by the #9 Audi. Just one Nissan LMP1 car made the finish, but the #22 car wasn’t classified as it didn’t complete enough laps to meet the 70 per cent winner’s distance rule.
The #47 KCMG led for the vast majority of the LMP2 class race to take victory, ahead of the #38 Jota Sport car. The #64 Corvette won in GTE Pro, with the SMP Ferrari triumphing in GTE Am.
To check out CT staffer Matt’s gallery from Le Mans, go here. What were your favourite moments from Le Mans? Let us know in the comments!