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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s final notebook from the 92nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Ferrari

***Ferrari scored its 11th outright win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, also backing up its 2023 victory in the 499P’s debut year. It puts the Italian marque only two wins behind Audi in the fight for second on the all-time winners’ list behind Porsche (19).

***Antonio Fuoco becomes the 14th different outright winner from Italy, joining his Ferrari stablemates Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi on the roll of honor.

***Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina meanwhile become the third different winners from their respective nations, Denmark and Spain. Nielsen follows in the footsteps of namesake John Nielsen (to whom he is unrelated) and nine-time winner Tom Kristensen, while Molina emulates his fellow countrymen Marc Gene and Fernando Alonso.

***The winning margin of 14.221 seconds between the No. 50 Ferrari 499P and the second-placed No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries is the second-closest timed finish in Le Mans history after the 2011 event, which was settled by 13.854 seconds. Including the instances where the winning margin was declared in meters, it was the fifth-closest finish ever.

***Nine cars finishing on the lead lap is a new record at Le Mans, with no previous edition having ever featured more than two cars on the lead lap. Eight different Hypercar entries led at stages, with the No. 8 Toyota heading the field for a race-high 98 laps, followed by the satellite No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 499P that was out front for 83 tours.

***Kobayashi drew a round of applause during the post-race press conference when he offered an amusing vignette regarding an on-track fight with Fuoco, which involved the Japanese driver making an uncomplimentary hand gesture towards his Italian rival.

***Kobayashi recalled: “I overtook Antonio going into Indianapolis in the middle of the night at 320 km/h, which was quite impressive. I did this [the hand gesture] in the window, and he saw me. We looked each other in the eyes as I did this, because he turned his face to the window and (he nodded as if to say) ‘Yes’! After the race, he asked me who was in the car and I said it was me! This was my highlight of the race.”

***The No. 4 Porsche Penske 963, which equaled the pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids as being the quickest in the speed traps, retired in the 18th hour following Felipe Nasr’s crash at Indianapolis after hitting a damp patch of track while on slicks.

***Co-driver Nick Tandy said: “From the outset, our No. 4 was plagued by penalties, mistakes and contact – totally abnormal for us. I’m not at all blaming my teammate Felipe Nasr. Anyone driving on cold slick tires on a track that’s still damp is bound to quickly fly off. Such an accident isn’t unusual.”

***Porsche’s highest-placed Hypercar was the No. 6 entry of Laurens Vanthoor, Andre Lotterer and pole-sitter Kevin Estre finished just off the podium in fourth after a call to stay on slicks for an additional lap during a downpour backfired in the closing stages.

***Porsche Penske Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid said: “Our Nos. 6 and 5 cars pulled out all stops during the last four hours. Our crew also pushed the strategic limits to the edge when it came to tire choice. We really wanted to challenge Ferrari and Toyota for victory.”

***Lotterer, of note, completed only 3 hours and 47 minutes of drive time in the race, with Vanthoor nearly racking up 12 hours and Estre with eight hours. A Porsche Penske spokesperson confirmed that Lotterer was not unwell.

***The No. 2 Chip Ganassi Racing-run Cadillac V-Series.R of Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Alex Palou, which led for 23 laps after going off-sequence on strategy following the race’s third safety car period, faded in the closing stages to finish seventh after struggling for grip on Michelin’s wet weather tire amid mixed track conditions.

***Bamber said: “We led the race for long periods of time. Ultimately, didn’t swing in our favor with the weather at the end. But that’s sort of Le Mans and racing. We can be proud as a program about what we’ve achieved, how much we’ve gone forward. Now we just need a result to show for it. Other than that, I think we’ve made big leaps and bounds forward.”

***The sister No. 3 Ganassi Cadillac dropped out of the race in the night with a punctured oil tank, while the remaining car, the No. 311 Action Express Racing entry, finished 31 laps off the lead when Pipo Derani crashed at Indianapolis in the morning hours.

***Derani recalled of the incident to Sportscar365: “We don’t know what happened, whether it was something that broke or maybe one of the cars in front brought on track some water that had been in a curb. It happened so quickly, there was no time to react.”

***While totaling more than six hours of time behind the safety car, the race featured the longest-ever neutralization in Le Mans history, with a four-hour and 27-minute safety car period due to rain in the early morning hours. The previous record was 2 hours and 22 minutes, for Mike Rockenfeller’s massive accident in the 2011 running of the race that resulted in extensive barrier damage.

***With the winning No. 50 Ferrari completing only 311 laps, it was the shortest 24 Hours of Le Mans in terms of distance since the 1995 running, which was equally rain-soaked, and won by the Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing McLaren F1 GTR over 298 laps.

***The result of Le Mans has had a significant impact on the WEC Hypercar drivers’ standings. The No. 6 Porsche crew of Estre, Vanthoor and Lotterer remain in the lead on 99 points, with No. 50 trio Ferrari Fuoco, Nielsen and Molina now up to second on 90 points. Toyota drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries are third on 82 points, with Mike Conway’s absence having ruled him out of winning this year’s title.

***Of note, the No. 38 Hertz Team JOTA and No. 63 Lamborghini Iron Lynx crews picked up their first points of the WEC season for finishing ninth and tenth respectively.

***Porsche meanwhile leads the Hypercar manufacturers’ standings on 108 points, with Ferrari next on 99 and Toyota third on 96.

***While still without a point this season, Isotta Fraschini enjoyed a virtually trouble-free on the Tipo 6 Competizione’s Le Mans debut, finishing nine laps down in 14th. Duqueine team manager Max Favard said the No. 11 machine only lost significant time when repairs were needed after minor contact with another car.

***While United Autosports celebrated victory in LMP2 with the No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson of Oliver Jarvis, Nolan Siegel and Bijoy Garg, the sister No. 23 car of Ben Keating, Filipe Albuquerque and Ben Hanley endured a nightmare race as an early off for Keating allowed a stone to break the alternator, which required a 90-minute visit to the garage in just the second hour of the race to replace.

***Keating recalled to Sportscar365 post-race: “I don’t know what it is… my history in GT cars here has been very good, but my history in LMP2 has not been good. With the strong tailwind we had at the beginning of the race, I misjudged the Dunlop Chicane and next thing I knew I was backwards in the gravel.”

***Asked if he would have another attempt at Le Mans next year in an LMP2 car, the Texan driver replied: “I don’t know.”

***The No. 183 AF Corse Oreca of Ben Barnicoat, Nico Varrone and Francois Perrodo, which claimed LMP2 Pro-Am subclass honors, was in position to take the outright LMP2 class win until it was hit by starter motor problems, which cost the team an estimated five to ten seconds per pit stop to fire up.

***Barnicoat told Sportscar365: “If it wasn’t the issue with the starter motor, I think we would have won the whole thing. But it then came down to a couple of really tough decisions behind the safety cars. Do you pit and go for the overall win and put yourself in that box or do you cover off the Pro-Am, the No. 14 AO [by TF Sport] car, which was what we were here to do. In that scenario, we decided to protect the Pro-Am win.”

***Another favorite LMP2 runner to hit trouble was the No. 37 Cool Racing car, which spent half an hour in the garage late on to replace a broken windshield wiper motor. That followed a spin for Malthe Jakobsen, who was unable to see where he was going.

***Both of United Autosports’ McLaren 720S GT3 Evos failed to finish the race, with an engine issue resulting in a retirement on Sunday morning for the No. 95 car, while the No. 59 car shortly later stopped on track after leading its class.

***Manthey EMA’s LMGT3 class victory was the seventh Le Mans win in the GT ranks for Porsche, while it also became the first and to date only brand to have won in all GT categories at the event. In addition to a double victory in 2013 and 2018, it won GTE-Am in 2019 and GTE-Pro in 2022.

***Notably, its 2022 triumph, the last in GTE-Pro, has two things in common with Sunday’s win: both cars were operated by Manthey and both cars featured Richard Lietz as part of the winning driver crew.

***Lietz’s co-driver Morris Schuring, as well as United Autosports LMP2 driver Nolan Siegel, both came close to breaking the record for youngest-ever class winners at Le Mans at 19 years old. However, the record remains in the hands of current Proton Hypercar driver Julien Andlauer, who was 18 years and 352 days old when he won in GTE-Am in 2018.

***Conrad Laursen, who shared the No. 155 Spirit of Race Ferrari 296 GT3 with Johnny Laursen and Jordan Taylor, could have broken that record as he was 18 years and 36 days old when he took the start on Saturday. The car ran in the top five in class until an overnight collision resulted in a loss of two laps.

***As a result of the No. 46 Team WRT BMW’s crash in the night, Valentino Rossi became the third out of four motorcycle world champions failing to finish upon their first visits to Le Mans. John Surtees (1963) and Wayne Gardner (1998) both also retired from their Le Mans debuts. The only exception is Mike Hailwood, who finished third overall in a Ford GT40 alongside David Hobbs in 1969.

***While the No. 88 and No. 44 Ford Mustang GT3s finished third and fourth in class on the car’s Le Mans debut, the No. 77 car of Ryan Hardwick, Zach Robichon and Ben Barker lost significant ground after a three-and-a-half hour visit to the garage to replace the steering rack and eventually finished last in class, 54 laps down on the No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche.

***D’station Racing’s Satoshi Hoshino announced pre-race that the 2024 edition would be his fifth and final attempt at Le Mans. The Japanese gentleman driver came away with ninth in LMGT3 alongside his co-drivers in the team’s No. 777 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo, Marco Sorensen and Erwan Bastard.

***Another driver to have bowed out of Le Mans competition is John Hartshorne. Fourth in the Proton Mustang he shared with Ben Tuck and Christopher Mies marked the 67-year-old Briton’s best-ever class finish.

***Akkodis ASP’s No. 78 Lexus RC F GT3 received a reprimand for Timur Boguslavskiy exceeding the maximum of drive time of four hours in any given six-hour period. The relevant stewards bulletin’ acknowledged that the team had suffered a loss of power in their pit garage at that time, meaning the team “lost the data needed during that period to calculate drive time.” It also noted that the offense happened during a safety car period, meaning the No. 78 car gained “no competitive advantage.”

***The ACO announced a record crowd of 329,000 spectators for this year’s race, up from the 325,000 fans that took in last year’s centenary edition.

***Luna de Wilde of Team WRT received the ACO-UJSF communication award for the best communicator at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The recipient of the award, given annually since 1994, was decided on the basis of votes from more than a dozen motorsports journalists, including Sportscar365’s John Dagys.

***Lamborghini is still “in the process” of deciding its new motorsport boss according to the company’s chief technical officer Rouven Mohr, who took over the responsibilities temporarily in March. Mohr said they are in the “final screening” phase and are optimistic of finalizing it in the coming weeks or two months at the maximum.

***The WEC season continues with the fifth round of the campaign, the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, in Brazil on July 14.

John Dagys and Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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