Porsche trumps Audi in Le Mans civil war
Fielding arguably the most technically advanced racing car ever made, Porsche has managed to rekindle its winning Le Mans 24 Hour flame.
In what was a titanic arm wrestle, the #19 919 Hybrid of F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg, New Zealand’s Earl Bamber and Briton Nick Tandy produced a flawless performance to take the chequered flag.
For the most part, Porsche’s 2.0 litre, four cylinder petrol engine battled Audi’s V6 diesel unit but in the closing third of the race it became an inter team battle between the Zuffenhausen marauders.
The highly fancied #17 Porsche driven by German Timo Bernhard, Aussie Mark Webber and New Zealander Brendon Hartley was unable to recover from its costly stop-go penalty for passing under yellow earlier in the race, settling for second.
It was an admirable fightback from the red 919 with Webber calling on his vast reserves of mental and physical resilience before falling one place short.
Hartley punched on and brought the car home after a late splash and dash.
The #7 Audi R18 quattro ended up too far out of the firing line to launch any rear guard assault, finishing a distant third.
Defying uncertainty over reliability, the Porsche – which has moved to the highest (8) mega joule class and uses a lighter battery – has proved that its complex hybrid system can tolerate 5372km (395 laps) of La Sarthe fury.
Even a large band of rain which arrived on the edge of the circuit inside the last 20 minutes could not derail the Porsche quinella.
It was the first win by a Kiwi since Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon’s Le Mans victory in 1966.
Porsche pulled the victory off with military precision with its squad of almost 200 members helping refine a car that harnesses the most complex and potent hybrid system in the automotive world.
It was only the third time (2003 Bentley, 2009 Peugeot) that Audi has not stood on the top step since 2000.
Two years into its mega expensive 919 Hybrid program, Porsche produced its first outright win at La Sarthe since the 911 GT-1 in 1998.
The win was a triumph for youthful talent and exuberance with Hulkenberg making his prototype and Le Mans debut and Bamber confirming his tremendous ability after a meteoric rise.
In the middle of the night Tandy put his hand up with some powerful stints, ably supported by Bamber’s transitional running in the trick dark to dawn period.
The #19’s cameo role in the World Endurance Championship’s most prized event saw it as the least fancied of the three 919 Hybrids.
Porsche’s #18 919 was classified in fifth, one position behind the #8 Audi.
Toyota had a lonely and almost invisible run with its #2 TS040 finishing in sixth ahead of the #9 Audi with the #1 Toyota in eighth.
Nissan finished with a difficult baptism with only one of its three GT-R LM machines, the #22 still running at the end but 153 laps down in 40th position.
The Hong Kong-based KCMG Oreca Nissan of Richard Bradley, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthew Howson overcame several difficulties to win LMP2.
Kiwi GP2 Series race Mitch Evans was in the runner-up JOTA Sport LMP2 Gibson Nissan with Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan.
A late crash by Paul Dalla Lana in the #98 Aston Martin Vantage saw Shaytar Victor bring the SMP Ferrari 458 Italia home first in GTE Am in the car he shared with fellow Russian Aleksey Basov and Italian Andrea Bertolini.
Dempsey Racing saw its #77 Porsche 911 RSR climb into second place in the GTE Am ranks, classified 22nd overall, for Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long and Marco Seefried.
The #64 Corvette Racing hovered around the pace before springing into the lead when the #51 Ferrari’s suffered major gearbox issues.
It left Oliver Gavin, Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner to pick up the GTE Pro class win.
VIDEO: Race Highlights
See full results below
|1||LMP1||#19 Porsche||Hulkenberg, Bamber, Tandy||395|
|2||LMP1||#17 Porsche||Bernhard, Webber, Hartley||394||+ 1 Lap|
|3||LMP1||#7 Audi||Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer||392||+ 3 Laps|
|4||LMP1||#8 Audi||Di Grassi, Duval, Jarvis||392||+ 2m37.663s|
|5||LMP1||#18 Porsche||Dumas, Jani, Lieb||391||+ 4 Laps|
|6||LMP1||#2 Toyota||Wurz, Sarrazin, Conway||386||+ 9 Laps|
|7||LMP1||#9 Audi||Albuquerque, Bonanomi, Rast||386||+ 2m34.118s|
|8||LMP1||#1 Toyota||Davidson, Buemi, Nakajima||385||+ 10 Laps|
|9||LMP2||#47 Oreca||Howson, Bradley, Lapierre||358||+ 37 Laps|
|10||LMP2||#38 Gibson||Dolan, Evans, Turvey||357||+ 38 Laps|
|11||LMP2||#26 Ligier||Rusinov, Canal, Bird||357||+ 59.522s|
|12||LMP2||#28 Ligier||Yacaman, Derani, Gonzalez||353||+ 42 Laps|
|13||LMP2||#48 Oreca||Chandhok, Patterson, Berthon||347||+ 48 Laps|
|14||LMP2||#27 BR||Mediani, Markozov, Minassian||339||+ 56 Laps|
|15||LMP2||#31 Ligier||Brown, Van Overbeek, Fogarty||339||+ 1m47.359s|
|16||LMP2||#45 Oreca||Ibanez, Perret, Bellarosa||337||+ 58 Laps|
|17||GTE Pro||#64 Chevrolet||Gavin, Milner, Taylor||336||+ 59 Laps|
|18||LMP1||#13 Rebellion||Imperatori, Kraihamer, Abt||336||+ 34.015s|
|19||LMP2||#29 Morgan||Roussel, Tung, Cheng||334||+ 61 Laps|
|20||GTE Am||#72 Ferrari||Shaytar, Bertolini, Basov||331||+ 64 Laps|
|21||GTE Pro||#71 Ferrari||Rigon, Calado, Beretta||331||+ 41.474s|
|22||GTE Am||#77 Porsche||Dempsey, Long, Seefried||330||+ 65 Laps|
|23||GTE Am||#62 Ferrari||Sweedler, Bell, Segal||329||+ 66 Laps|
|24||LMP1||#12 Rebellion||Prost, Heidfeld, Beche||329||+ 9.260s|
|25||GTE Pro||#51 Ferrari||Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella||329||+ 48.521s|
|26||GTE Am||#83 Ferrari||Perrodo, Collard, Aguas||329||+ 48.766s|
|27||GTE Pro||#95 Aston||Sorensen, Thiim, Nygaard||329||+ 1m59.286s|
|28||LMP2||#30 Ligier||Sharp, Dalziel, Heinemeier Hansson||329||+ 3m19.870s|
|29||LMP2||#35 Ligier||Nicolet, Merlin, Maris||328||+ 67 Laps|
|30||GTE Pro||#91 Porsche||Lietz, Christensen, Bergmeister||326||+ 69 Laps|
|31||GTE Am||#61 Ferrari||Mann, Giammaria, Cressoni||326||+ 3m52.486s|
|32||LMP2||#40 Ligier||Krohn, Jonsson, Barbosa||322||+ 73 Laps|
|33||LMP2||#37 BR||Aleshin, Ladygin, Ladygin||322||+ 2m10.361s|
|34||GTE Am||#98 Aston||Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda||321||+ 74 Laps|
|35||GTE Pro||#99 Aston||Rees, Macdowall, Stanaway||319||+ 76 Laps|
|36||GTE Am||#68 Porsche||Chen, Vannelet, Parisy||319||+ 5.510s|
|37||GTE Am||#66 Ferrari||Al Faisal, Giermaziak, Avenatti||319||+ 8.164s|
|38||GTE Am||#67 Porsche||Chen, Kapadia, Maassen||316||+ 79 Laps|
|39||LMP1||#4 CLM||Trummer, Kaffer, Monteiro||259||+ 136 Laps|
|40||LMP1||#22 Nissan||Tincknell, Krumm, Buncombe||241||+ 154 Laps|
|41||LMP2||#34 Ligier||Cumming, Vanthoor, Estre||329||Retired|
|42||GTE Am||#53 Dodge||Bleekemolen, Keating, Miller||304||Retired|
|43||LMP2||#42 Dome||Leventis, Watts, Kane||264||Retired|
|44||GTE Am||#55 Ferrari||Cameron, Griffin, Mortimer||241||Retired|
|45||LMP1||#23 Nissan||Pla, Mardenborough, Chilton||234||Retired|
|46||LMP2||#46 Oreca||Thiriet, Badey, Gommendy||204||Retired|
|47||GTE Am||#96 Aston||Goethe, Hall, Castellacci||187||Retired|
|48||LMP2||#43 Morgan||Ragues, Webb, Amberg||162||Retired|
|49||LMP1||#21 Nissan||Matsuda, Shulzhitskiy, Ordonez||115||Retired|
|50||LMP2||#36 Alpine||Panciatici, Chatin, Capillaire||110||Retired|
|51||GTE Pro||#97 Aston||Turner, Mucke, Bell||110||Retired|
|52||GTE Am||#50 Chevrolet||Roda, Ruberti, Poulsen||94||Retired|
|53||LMP2||#41 Gibson||Hirsch, Paletou, Lancaster||71||Retired|
|54||GTE Am||#88 Porsche||Ried, Al Qubaisi, Bachler||44||Retired|
|55||GTE Pro||#92 Porsche||Pilet, Makowiecki, Henzler||14||Retired|