The 85th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours was a crazy old race, and the shenanigans didn’t finish after the chequered flag either! At more than one stage throughout the 24 hours the possibility of an overall all LMP2 podium was looking like it might happen!
Having spent over an hour in the pits during the 4th hour with a front axle drive issue, the #2 Porsche of New Zealander’s Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, and Germany’s Timo Bernhard most definitely looked like it’s race was over, but such is Le Mans that the unexpected is always just around the corner!
At one stage in 56th place overall, the Porsche 919 Hybrid took the chequered flag after completing 367 laps to make it 3 in a row for the German marque and giving Porsche their 19th Le Mans victory overall.
In second place, and having lead the race for some 29 laps was the #38 Oreca 07 – Gibson of Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Tung, Laurent and Britain’s own Olly Jarvis, who were ultimately caught and passed on lap 348 by the Porsche.
Taking the third step on the podium on Sunday was the #13 Vaillante Rebellion of Piquet Jnr, Heinemeier Hansson and Beche, only to be disqualified from the race on Monday afternoon once post-race technical checks had been completed. Two penalties were issued, each resulting in disqualification from the race. The first penalty was for modifying homologated bodywork and using it during the race and the second was issued for works and/installations at the car during Parc Ferme conditions.
This resulted in the second Jackie Chan DC Racing’s #37 being promoted to third overall for drivers Cheng, Gommendy and Brundle, also giving them a 1-2 in Class. However, Vaillante Rebellion have confirmed they will appeal the stewards decision so all could still change!
So that covers the LMP1 and LMP2 class winners in one go!
Heading up the LMGTE Pro Class was the #97 Aston Martin Racing of Turner, Adam and Serra in a class that saw epic battles right from the green light. Making it a third win for Turner, we also witnessed an immense battle between the #97 and the #63 Corvette of Magnussen, Garcia and Taylor, resulting in the AMR outfit taking the lead coming onto the main start/finish straight on the penultimate lap. In losing this battle the #63 Corvette slipped to third with the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK sneaking in to second place.
LMGTE Am was an all Ferrari 488 podium, with the JMW Motorsport of Smith, Stevens and Vanthoor taking the win by 2 laps, from the Spirit of the Race #56 and the #62 Scuderia Corsa team.
Noticeable retirees from the race were the LMP1 field with only two out of six cars finishing.
Toyota, who fielded three cars for the 2017 running of Le Mans, only managed to get one across the line, the #8 some 9 laps off the lead after an issue with the front motor cost it almost two hours in the pits. In Toyota Gazoo Racing’s own press release the words ‘agony’ and ‘painful’ were used. At 1.15am the #7 retired with clutch problems and then just a mere 20 minutes later the #9 retired just metres from the pit lane with a puncture and damaged hydraulics following a shunt from behind by an LMP2.
Also missing was the #1 Porsche who, after leading much of the race, stopped out on track just after 11am on Sunday with Lotterer reporting back to the pits ‘low oil pressure’. Being told to switch off the combustion engine the 919 Hybrid but did not have enough battery charge to allow it to make it home electrically.
And the ailing Bykolles team didn’t get passed the first hour, retiring just 7 laps in after hitting debris on the track breaking its steering and damaging bodywork, which ultimately lead to the Nismo engine overheating.
Diaries at the ready, the all important dates for next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours are 16-17th June!