Porsche Wins Wild 24H Le Mans in LMP1 Meltdown

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid has claimed overall victory in the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, following a come-from-behind run in an attrition-filled and bizarre race that saw every single LMP1 car hit mechanical trouble.

Timo Bernhard passed the LMP2 class No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson of Ho-Pin Tung for the outright lead with only 1 hour and 7 minutes to go, after charging back from a nearly 20-lap deficit due to a front motor generator unit failure in the third hour.

While being the first of the LMP1 hybrids to run into issues, and spending more than one hour in the garage for a full rebuild of the front axle, Bernhard and co-drivers Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley worked their way through the field while others fell by the wayside.

Pre-race favorites Toyota Gazoo Racing saw two of its three TS050 Hybrids retire prior to halfway, with the No. 8 entry having a lengthy stop, also to replace its front MGU, with the sister, then-leading No. 1 Porsche having a trouble-free run until less than four hours to go when Andre Lotterer ground to a halt on-track after reporting low oil pressure.

The No. 1 Porsche’s retirement put a LMP2 car into the overall lead for the first time in the race’s history, in the hands of 19-year-old Silver-graded Le Mans rookie Thomas Laurent, who led for nearly two hours.

Bernhard’s ten to 15-second per lap advantage over the Jota Sport-run Oreca 07 Gibson, however, saw DC Racing’s two-lap lead steadily evaporate, compounded by a rear-deck change for the LMP2 contender, which cost the Chinese squad nearly one minute in the pits.

The 2014 FIA World Endurance Champion crossed the line 1 lap ahead of the LMP2 class-winning DC entry of Ho-Pin Tung, who held onto second overall, despite late-race overheating concerns.

LMP2 cars claimed eight of the top-10 finishing positions, with the No. 8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima coming home 9 laps behind in 9th overall after its lengthy delay in the eighth hour.

Only two of the six LMP1 cars finished, in the worst reliability record since the category’s launch with hybrid drivetrains in 2014.

The pole-sitting No. 7 Toyota led from the start and held nearly a one-minute lead until clutch issues in the 10th hour, which saw Kamui Kobayashi slow on track and ultimately abandon the car at the Porsche Curves.

Less than 20 minutes later, contact from a LMP2 car resulted in a left-rear tire puncture and subsequent fire for the No. 9 car of Nicolas Lapierre.

Like Kobayashi, Lapierre attempted to limp his Toyota back to the pits but parked the car within sight of pit entry, ending the Japanese manufacturer’s hopes of victory after coming less than ten minutes away from a sure-fire win last year.

The No. 4 ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO, the only LMP1 Privateer entrant in this year’s race, sustained a puncture at the start only to retire with engine failure after completing two laps.

Despite the unusual rate of attrition, Porsche claimed its third consecutive win and record-extending 19th overall in the race.

While it marked Bernhard’s second overall crown following his 2010 win with Audi and Bamber’s second in three years, 27-year-old Hartley scored his first win in the French endurance classic.

RESULTS: 24H Le Mans

24 Comments

  1. Susafan

    June 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Too bad there wasn’t a privateer p1 outfit at the end. It would have won the race…

    I think todays race could have opened some pocketa for p1 privateer next year

    • Max

      June 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Agreed. If Rebellion was in LMP1 we’d have a very different headline. That said, they were still in about the same position for podium as their best years in LMP1. What a crazy race.

      • GR88

        June 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

        Commentators on Eurosport saying Rebellion bought a pair of Ginetta’s.

        • Actually listen, and ES seems to make stuff up

          June 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

          Ignoring that Rebellion has said multiple times they aren’t looking at 2018 but rather 2019/20 for the LMP1 return? They don’t want to run a new car.

          • GR88

            June 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

            Opportunities present themselves and plans change. It’s Manor and ARC linked with Ginetta, the Rebellion rumour came from multiple people this weekend.

            Rebellion still need Oreca chassis for IMSA.

      • Brad

        June 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm

        @ Max + Susafan,

        Maybe, but I seem to recall when Rebellion was in LMP1 at the LM24, it always seemed like one car was out of the race and one car was sitting in the garage waiting until the finish to do a lap or two.

        • tracer

          June 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

          I recall the same.

  2. GR88

    June 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Many privateer teams will be eyeing the opportunity of LMP1. If hybrids continue to be this fragile, they’ll probably win!

  3. Steven

    June 18, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Another wild 24 Hours of Le Mans. The heat definitely played a major factor.

    well done to Porsche!

  4. therandomguy

    June 18, 2017 at 9:20 am

    As a neutral this was one of strangest yet great Le Mans 24 hours I have seen. Well done to Porsche for winning outright, props to Jackie Chan DC Racing for 2nd overall and LMP2 winners, what a last lap by Aston Martin Racing to win GTEPro and heartbreak for Corvette Racing to only finish 3rd and nice work by the JMW Ferrari for getting GTEam honours.

  5. AF

    June 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Strange nature of the sport, but the hybrid farce we had this weekend may well have saved LMP1 with people realising the possibility of these cars actually being able to win a race like this.

    • JMW

      June 18, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Certainly shows hybrid tech, when pushed to the limit, is stillunreliable. Audi had an amazing finishing record, but even they struggled in latter years, when competition increased

      A well developed LMP1 privateer that can run 3-4 seconds a lap quicker than LMP2 will be right up there at Le Mans and in WEC.

    • Doug

      June 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      I loved to see the meltdown of the zappies. Long live real motors with real sound.

  6. NaBUru38

    June 18, 2017 at 10:54 am

    A DPi could have won, were it not for bigly plotics.

    • Willis

      June 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

      DPi is half assed sportscar racing… any decent manufacturer should design and build le mans competitors from scratch.

      • Jordan

        June 18, 2017 at 11:26 am

        Careful,

        Andy Flinn’s entire self worth depends on this.

        • GR88

          June 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

          I do wonder if Onroak,NISMO and ESM would be tempted to enter their DPI in privateer LMP1. They already have an LMP1 spec engine.

    • Jenner

      June 18, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Not politics, Studipity.

      NASCAR decided to take a regulation P2 car and modify itself out of specification to the Le Mans rule book.

      Pretty sad, and funny, that WTR will never win Le Mans.

      Streamed the whole race this year, so awesome not dealing with Fox Suck 1 & 2. Commercial free too.

      Listening to Allan McNish and Peter Dumbreck was great. Amazing to learn that Audi had a special cleaning solution for their windscreen for the flies that live in France compared to other tracks.

    • Steven

      June 18, 2017 at 11:57 am

      No it wouldn’t. The winning Porsche was 2 laps down from the overall leader with 4 hours to go and won by one lap.

      The Oreca showed its in a league of its own in P2, the Mazda and Nissan would have never finished the race to begin with and the Cadillac might have put up a slight fight against the P2 class if it was on Dunlop rubber. Remember that Caddy would have still have to put an AM driver in the car and not have the same Daytona or Sebring lineup.

      • Travis McBee

        June 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm

        Max Angeleli 😉

  7. Jason

    June 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Prototype racing should be survival of the fittest. Leave the 24 hour sprint race style to the GT class. I always enjoy these attrition filled races in Prototypes.

    • susafan

      June 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Same here. I still remember back in 2010, when Audi raced all Peugeots into flames. Wonderful race

      • Jordan

        June 18, 2017 at 8:36 pm

        And Audi set a new distance record!

        • Kirk

          June 19, 2017 at 10:35 am

          It’s funny how the P1 attrition goes to hell when Audi leaves. coincidence?

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