Porsche Makes Amazing Comeback to Win 24 Hours of Le Mans
Latest is a third straight win and nineteenth victory overall for Porsche.
When enthusiasts tune into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, they can always expect one thing – the unexpected. With Audi out of the running, Porsche and Toyota went head-to-head in the LMP1-H category. And, major spoilers here, Porsche came out victorious, but it wasn’t a straightforward run.
Qualifying for the LMP1-H class revealed Toyota’s blistering pace for two of the three of its TS050s. The No. 7 TS050 that was piloted by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Stéphane Sarrazin managed to get pole position by approximately three seconds over the competition. Toyota snagged second place in qualifying with the No. 8 TS050 with Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kazuki Nakajima behind the wheel. And the No. 9, with Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto, and Jose Maria Lopez, taking fifth.
Porsche, on the other hand, lagged behind Toyota with the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, André Lotterer, and Nick Tandy qualifying in third place. The last of the Porsches, the No. 2 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, and Brendon Hartley qualified in fourth. Not the best qualifying round for Porsche, then.
For the majority of the first part of the race, approximately 10 hours of it actually, Toyota set the pace. The No. 7 TS050 led the pack as Porsche struggled with problems with the No. 2 919 Hybrid. The No. 2 vehicle, approximately three hours in the to race, pulled into the garage with a major issue – the vehicle lost drive to its front axle.
Luckily, Porsche’s brilliant crew managed to get the No. 2 919 Hybrid back on the track after an hour of work, but the vehicle was 18 laps behind the leader in 56th place. With Porsche struggling with repairs and matching Toyota’s pace, it looked like the German automaker was done for. But Le Mans is a cruel mistress.
As night descended onto the track, cars in the LMP1-H class started to drop like flies. The No. 8 TS050 was actually on fire when it pulled into the pits and, after some time, was discovered to have a similar issue with its hybrid drive system as the No. 2 919 Hybrid. The No. 8 Toyota would stay in the pits for approximately two hours before getting back on track.
While the No. 8 TS050 was getting repaired, the leading No. 7 Toyota retired at roughly the 10-hour mark with clutch issues, having completed just 154 laps of the circuit. Shortly after the retirement, the No. 9 TS050 suffered a puncture as a result of coming into contact with an LMP2 car, resulting in that vehicle being retired, as well.
At that moment, Toyota’s 24 Hours of Le Mans run was practically over.
With two of the three TS050s out of commission, and the No. 8 vehicle having lost a lot of time in the pits due to a repair, the No. 1 and No. 2 919 Hybrids were left to fight amongst themselves for first place.
However, disaster struck the No. 1 919 Hybrid with less than four hours to go, as the vehicle came to a dramatic halt with an engine failure. After completing 318 laps, the No. 1 919 Hybrid was out of the race. With Porsche’s retirement, that left just two LMP1-H cars on the track – the No. 2 919 Hybrid and No. 8 TS050.
The No. 2 919 Hybrid, which had faced major issues in the beginning of the race, was now in a battle with the class leader in the LMP2 field for first place of the overall race. With a little over an hour left in the race, the No. 2 Porsche overtook the LMP2 team to snag first place, where it finished the race. The No. 8 TS050 managed to finish the race, but came in ninth place overall.
The incredible comeback for Porsche gave the automaker its third consecutive victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and its 19th win overall. The 919 Hybrid enters the exclusive world of Porsches that have won the historic race at least three times, joining the likes of the 936, 956, and 962, reports Road and Track.
Hopefully, Porsche will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as rumors have started to circulate, claiming that the German automaker will withdraw from the LMP1-H class, to make it four consecutive victories.
Check out the full results of 24 Hours of Le Mans here.