Le Mans twice as nice for Porsche
Audi record of 13 wins broken by rookie team led by an F1 driver
LE MANS — Porsche ended Audi’s winning run at the Le Mans 24 Hours race last Sunday with a one-two finish and Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg triumphant at his first attempt.
The German, driving the number 19 works Porsche he shared with New Zealand’s Earl Bamber and Briton Nick Tandy, took the chequered flag for the marque’s first win at the Sarthe circuit since 1998.
The number 17 Porsche of Australian Mark Webber, New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley and Germany’s Timo Bernhard finished second.
Audi’s defending champions André Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Faessler completed the podium places in the 83rd edition of the endurance race watched by a crowd of around 250 000 spectators.
The race saw 56 entries, with 27 cars retiring during the 24 hours of high speed racing, and the Corvette from the U.S. withdrawn before the start.
Dream outcome for rookie team
None of the punters had predicted the one-two Porsche outcome and some were even holding out odds for Nissan’s revolutionary GT-R LM.
Nissan returned to the Le Mans after a 16-year absence, hoping to rewrite the textbooks with a front-engine, front-wheeled drive car, but the Nismos were 20 seconds off the pace leaving it to Toyota to take the ninth spot in the LMP1 race.
But it was the least experienced of the three Porsche works crews, with Hulkenberg completely unfamiliar with Le Mans until testing two weeks ago, who took the laurels.
Audi had also won 13 of the last 15 editions, but Porsche, who returned with a full factory effort last year, had looked dangerous from the moment they swept the top three grid places in qualifying. It was Porsche’s 17th Le Mans triumph, extending their own record. “It’s amazing to come here, first attempt. Super happy … we wrote history today,” said Hulkenberg (27). He is the first active F1 driver to win since Britain’s Johnny Herbert in 1991 and is racing in Austria this weekend.
Safety car periods
The three safety cars used in the long race came out four times during the race, making their first appearance after the first hour when a three-car collision dumped oil on the track at the first chicane.
There was a much longer safety car period at the end of the third hour, when Frenchman Loic Duval spun and hit the barriers in the number eight Audi at the Indianapolis corner. The fourth time was around the 17-hour mark, when an Aston Martin crashed heavily. — Reuters-Motoring Editor.
Top 10 results
1. Hulkenberg/Tandy/Bamber GER Porsche 919 Hybrid, 395 laps LMP1
2. Webber/Hartley/Bernhard GER Porsche 919 Hybrid 394 laps LMP1
3. Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer GER Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron 393 laps LMP1
4. Duval/di Grassi/Jarvis GER Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron 392 laps LMP1
5. Jani/Lieb/Dumas GER Porsche 919 Hybrid391 laps LMP1
6. Wurz/Conway/Sarrazin JPN Toyota Gazoo TS040 Hybrid 387 laps LMP1
7. Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Rast GER Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron 387 laps LMP1
8. Davidson/Buemi/Nakajima JPN Toyota Gazoo TS040 Hybrid 386 laps LMP1
9. Howson/Lapierre/Bradley HKG KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan 368 laps LMP2 10. Turvey/Evans/Dolan GBR Jota Gibson-Nissan 368 laps LMP2
11. Rusinov/Canal/Bird RUS G-Drive Ligier-Nissan 368 laps LMP2
12. Yacaman/Derani/Gonzalez RUS G-Drive Ligier-Nissan 354 laps LMP2
13. Chandhok/Berthon/Patterson IRL Murphy Oreca 03R-Nissan 340 laps LMP2
14. Mediani/Minassian/Markozov RUS SMP BR01-Nissan 339 laps LMP2
15. Brown/van Overbeek/Fogarty USA ESM Ligier-Honda 337 laps LMP2
16. Ibanez/Perret/Bellarosa SMR Ibanez Oreca 03R-Nissan 337 laps LMP2
17. Imperatori/Abt/Kraihamer SUI Rebellion R-ONE AER 336 laps LMP1
18. Tung/Cheng/Roussel GER Pegasus Morgan-Nissan 334 laps LMP2
19. Shaytar/Bertolini/BasovRUS SMP Ferrari 458 Italia 332 laps GTE Amateur 20. Rigon/Calado/BerettaITA AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia332 laps GTE Pro
21. Dempsey/Long/SeefriedGER Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR 331 laps GTE Amateur
22. Gavin/Milner/TaylorUSA Corvette Racing C7.R 292 laps GTE Pro
23. Heidfeld/Prost/Beche SUI Rebellion R-ONE AER 330 laps LMP1
24. Sweedler/Bell/SegalUSA Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia 330 laps GTE Amateur
25. Bruni/Vilander/FisichellaITA AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 330 laps GTE Pro
26. Aguas/Perrodo/CollardITA AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 330 laps GTE Am
27. Sorensen/Thiim/NygaardGBR Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE 330 laps GTE Pro
28. Sharp/Dalziel/Heinemeier-Hansson USA ESM Ligier-Honda 329 laps LMP2
29. Nicolet/Merlin/Maris FRA OAK Ligier-Nissan 328 laps LMP2
30. Lietz/Christensen/BergmeisterGER Porsche Team Manthay 911 RSR 327 laps GTE Pro
31. Mann/Gianmaria/CressoniITA AF Corse Ferrari 458 Itali 326 laps GTE Am
32. Krohn/Jonsson/Barbosa USA Krohn Ligier-Judd 323 laps LMP2
33. Aleshin/Ladygin/Ladygin RUS SMP BR01-Nissan 322 laps LMP2
34. MacDowall/Stanaway/ReesGBR Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE 320 laps GTE Pro
35. Chen/Vannelet/ParisyTWN Team AAI Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 320 laps GTE Amateur
36. al Faisal/Giermaziak/AvenattiGBR JMW Ferrari 458 Italia 320 laps GTE Am
37. Maassen/Chen/KapadiaTWN Team AAI Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 316 laps GTE Amateur.
Porsche 919 Hybrid number 19 drivers (from left) Nick Tandy of Britain, Earl Bamber of New Zealand and Nico Hulkenberg of Germany celebrate after winning the Le Mans 24-hour sportscar race with 395 laps.
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo number 22, which Germany’s Michael Krumm shared with Harry Tincknell of Britain and Alex Buncombe of Britain. This Nismo retired after 242 laps.