KCMG has dominated the LMP2 class at the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the new Oreca 05 Nissan proving the package to have in the diverse 19-car class.
Nearly from flag-to-flag, the No. 47 car driven by polesitter Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson and ex-Toyota factory ace Nicolas Lapierre controlled the race and was rarely challenged, with its lead often bordering on or exceeding one minute.
The win is the team’s fourth in the FIA World Endurance Championship, first since Sao Paulo last year, and first by a Hong Kong-entered team at Le Mans.
Therew were two scares. One came in Hour 19, when Bradley went off along with the No. 23 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO at Arnage corner, before resuming, and another came in Hour 22, when Lapierre went straight on at Indianapolis and resumed.
Otherwise the trio were rarely threatened, except earlier in the race from the similar Oreca 05 Nissan from Thiriet by TDS Racing.
Thiriet’s charge ended past the halfway mark when Fernando Rees hit Tristan Gommendy’s No. 46 Oreca 05 Nissan going into the first chicane. The Brazilian had just had the brakes changed on his Aston Martin Vantage V8, but the contact took Gommendy out of the race.
The No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan, No. 48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03R Nissan and the race-defending No. 38 Jota Sport Gibson 015S Nissan all then vaulted into podium contention from there.
Jota’s No. 38 recovered to second after an early race replacement of the gearbox potentiometer, but the trio of Oliver Turvey, Simon Dolan and Mitch Evans fought back from there.
Turvey caught and passed Sam Bird in the No. 26 car for second after a comeback in the final two hours. Meanwhile Bird’s early evening comeback got the car back from eighth to third after an earlier race fuel fire, in the car he shared with Julien Canal and Roman Rusinov.
The second G-Drive car finished fourth in class with the Murphy car in fifth; both survived potential pitfalls to complete the top-five.
Of note, the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 Hondas had multiple off-course incidents and garage trips and pressed on to finish seventh and 10th in both cars for their debuts; Krohn Racing also endured an electrical issue and several spins to finish 12th.
RESULTS: 24 Hours of Le Mans