Brendon Hartley survived a frantic final 30 minutes that saw the two leading cars incur penalties to give Tequila Patron ESM overall victory in the 20th anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans.
The Porsche LMP1 factory driver edged out the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Dane Cameron by 7.633 seconds in the ten-hour enduro, after both the No. 22 ESM and No. 5 Action Express entries were handed late-race penalties.
Pipo Derani, who took the final restart with 26 minutes to go, was forced to serve a drive-through for avoidable contact with the No. 67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe, who spun and made contact with the barriers.
While having inherited the lead briefly, Filipe Albuquerque came in for a stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty for unacceptable risk on the restart when he made contact with Cameron, who veered off into the grass.
The No. 5 Action Express car was forced to make a subsequent stop for not serving the initial penalty in a timely fashion, dropping the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup championship-winning entry to 5th at the checkered flag.
The late-race drama promoted the No. 6 Team Penske Oreca 07 Gibson of Juan Pablo Montoya to third, bouncing back from multiple issues, including an accident in the opening hour that put the car one lap down.
Montoya also had contact with the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth, which led to a left-rear puncture with 1 hour and 18 minutes to go.
Derani, meanwhile, finished fourth in the No. 22 ESM entry, 20 seconds behind the sister, race-winning entry, after serving his penalty.
Hartley shared top honors with team owner/driver Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel, who scored his first major win with the Florida-based squad, adding to its overall wins at Daytona and Sebring from last year.
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of Ricky and Jordan Taylor claimed the Prototype championship by starting the race, but dropped out in the third hour with engine-related issues, with Ryan Hunter-Reay at the wheel.
It marked the team’s first retirement of the year, after winning the first five races.
Both the No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca and No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson also retired, both crashing out, but in dramatic style for Jose Gutierrez, who landed on top of the Turn 5 barriers in the second hour.
BAR1 Sweep in PC After Performance Tech Falters
BAR1 Motorsports denied Performance Tech a perfect season by taking top class honors in the final race for Prototype Challenge.
The No. 26 Oreca FLM09 of Garett Grist, John Falb and Tomy Drissi claimed a eight-lap victory over the sister No. 20 entry, in a 1-2 class finish for the team after the championship-winning car hit trouble.
Contact between Heidfeld’s Rebellion Oreca and the No. 38 Performance Tech entry of Kyle Masson resulted in Masson and co-drivers James French and Pato O’Ward losing more than 20 laps for repairs.
A series of late-race spins for French, which brought out the race’s 14th and final full-course caution, added to Performance Tech’s misfortune.
Performance Tech, however, had locked up the title two months ago at Road America.
It marked the first class win for the Brian Alder-led team in the WeatherTech Championship era and first for the team since Petit Le Mans in 2013.
RESULTS: Motul Petit Le Mans