Le Mans twice as nice for Porsche

Audi record of 13 wins bro­ken by rookie team led by an F1 driver

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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

Then came

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.

PHOTO: REUTERS

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.

PHOTO: REUTERS

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.

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