JMW Motorsport’s all-rookie Le Mans GTE lineup turned in a tour de force in its brand-new Ferrari 488 GTE to take class honors, leading a sweep of the GTE-Am podium for the Prancing Horse in the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
From sixth on the starting grid, Rob Smith, Will Stevens, and Dries Vanthoor methodically made their way up the running order, taking the lead by the end of the third hour.
The trio largely controlled the race from there, emerging as the dominant force in GTE-Am by sunrise on Sunday.
Duncan Cameron, Aaron Scott, and Marco Cioci came home second in the No. 55 Spirit of Race Ferrari, one lap behind the class-winning JMW squad.
Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, and Cooper MacNeil completed the podium in the No. 62 Scuderia Corsa entry, with No. 99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GTE and No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari completing the top-five in class.
The win was the second consecutive triumph for the British squad, which sent its old Ferrari F458 Italia GT out with a bang by besting the GTE field in the most recent European Le Mans Series round at Monza.
While JMW’s race went relatively drama free, potential challengers started falling by the wayside early and often.
The No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE appeared to be the class of the field in the first third of the race before a tire puncture and subsequent damage derailed its bid for victory in the eighth hour.
Drivers Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda rallied to finish eighth in class.
A spin by the No. 90 TF Sport entry with five hours and 30 minutes to go deprived the British team, in its Le Mans debut, a class podium, while the class pole-sitting No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R suffered bodywork damage and a trip through the gravel.
The No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, another early contender, had gearbox problems overnight after contending as well.
RESULTS: 24H Le Mans