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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from Le Mans…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***Porsche’s shock Le Mans win was its record-extending 18th overall triumph in the endurance classic and puts Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas into the lead of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The trio are a hefty 39 points ahead of Audi’s Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis, who move into second.

***The third place overall result for No. 8 Audi R18 in the race kept the German manufacturer’s podium streak alive. Remarkably, Audi has not finished off the podium at Le Mans since its debut in 1999. If the No. 5 Toyota had been classified in the end, it would have broken that streak.

***A nearly 12-minute final lap for the No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which stopped on the front straight while in the lead with just a few minutes remaining, was too slow for the car to be classified, per regulations.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing has not yet disclosed details of the failure that caused the No. 5 Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima to stop on track. The Japanese manufacturer said the car lost drive, although multiple sources indicate possible turbo failure.

***It was a race to forget for AF Corse, which headed in as GT championship leaders on the heels of back-to-back GTE-Pro class wins for the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. The team had its first-ever double-retirement in WEC history, with the No. 71 car falling victim to multiple issues and the No. 51 car dropping out with engine failure.

***As a result, the No. 66 Ford trio of Olivier Pla, Stefan Muecke and Billy Johnson, who scored maximum WEC race points with a fourth place class finish, take over the lead of the GT Drivers’ Championship, 8 points ahead of AF Corse’s Rigon and Bird. American driver Johnson was only scheduled to compete in the opening three rounds.

***Both of the Manthey-entered Porsche 911 RSRs, in a one-off WEC race, also retired, with a punctured air cooler leading to engine failure for the No. 91 car and power steering and front suspension issues ending in retirement for the No. 92 car.

***Podium finisher Scott Dixon set a new GTE-Pro lap record of 3:51.514 in the race. The six quickest drivers in class were all Ford pilots, with the Blue Oval occupying eight of the top-10 fastest laps, by driver.

***An investigation is understood to be ongoing regarding the Ford GTs potentially being outside of the ACO’s “7 Percent Rule” which is enforced to establish a minimum buffer in performance between classes. The FIA or ACO have yet to officially comment on the matter.

***SRT41 by OAK Racing became the first Garage 56 entry to complete the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with quad-amputee Fred Sausset crossing the line 38th overall in his specially adapted Morgan LMP2 Nissan. The Frenchman, who lost all four limbs in a bacterial infection in 2012, was honored with a special podium celebration post-race.

***Leena Gade completed her illustrious career at Audi with a fourth place overall finish on Sunday with car No. 7. The longtime race engineer moves to sister brand Bentley in a new management role later this summer.

***Tequila Patron ESM’s podium streak came to an end, with 11th (No. 30) and 16th (No. 31) place class finishes for its pair of Ligier JS P2 Nissans, which battled multiple issues, including spins and suspension failures. The team had finished on the podium in every race it entered this season, including overall triumphs at Daytona and Sebring.

***The No. 64 Corvette C7.R, which crashed hard on Sunday morning in the hands of Tommy Milner, is expected to be rebuilt in time for next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Watkins Glen. No chassis damage was sustained. The team now has a brand-new spare C7.R chassis that was used as a display piece in the “Americans at Le Mans” exhibit at Circuit de la Sarthe last weekend.

***Michael Shank Racing scored a top-ten class finish in its Le Mans debut, with its Ligier JS P2 Honda leading two laps early in the hands of Laurens Vanthioor. The LMP2 entry was delayed by a five-minute in-race penalty for a pre-race engine change, as well as multiple other incidents, including an accident between John Pew and Tracy Krohn late in the race.

***Heavy rains forced the race to start under the safety car for the first time in event history. It was also the first time since 1970 — when there was a standing start — that the clock started on the grid, instead of following a pace lap.

***The revised start procedure also saw a shakeup in pre-race duties, as honorary starter Brad Pitt waved the tri-colour flag on grid rather than from the flag stand.

***Pitt was one of no fewer than five Hollywood stars on the grid on Saturday, having been joined by Keanu Reeves, Jason Statham, as well as Jackie Chan and Patrick Dempsey, the latter two who are co-owners of WEC teams.

***The ACO reported a race day attendance of 263,500 spectators, the exact same reported number from the event last year.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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