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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from 24H Le Mans…

Photo: Antonin Vincent/DPPI

***Vaillante Rebellion has confirmed plans of appealing the stewards’ decision to exclude the No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson, after it was found the car had non-complying modifications to its bodywork. Officials reviewed photos and video taken by the technical delegate staff, which had shown a hole made in the right-side of the engine cover. A hole was also made in the team’s second set of bodywork, which was fitted during a pit stop to allow access to the starter motor without having to remove the bodywork.

***A statement from the FIA read: “The video provided by the technical delegate shows the team’s mechanics using this hole to access the starter motor, tap on the solenoid to reset it, and subsequently the car driving away. It was not clear whether the motor was turned off and restarted before the car departed, and whether the team was in compliance with [the rules] or not.”

***This race was the first since 1995 that there was a legitimate mixed class overall podium. GT1 and WSC cars shared the podium back then, with LMP1 and LMP2s taking to the rostrum on Sunday. The 2003 race saw a Bentley 1-2 finish with its pair of Speed 8s, which were technically in the GTP class, but up against LMP900 cars running essentially to the same regulations.

***Had the No. 1 Porsche made it home and scored a win on Sunday, it would have probably been the largest margin of victory in 30 years. The margin of 13 laps with four hours to go would have been the largest since the Porsche 962C won by 20 laps in 1987.

***Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl said they have yet to determine the exact issue for the No. 1 car, which stopped with less than four hours to go with a reported oil leak. “We have to check at home what it was actually,” Seidl told Sportscar365. “The temperature went up and we had to stop the engine as a precaution on-track.”

***Seidl said Andre Lotterer was ordered to turn off the internal combustion engine and attempt to limp home in electric mode, where he made it to the Mulsanne Straight before running out of juice. 

***Brendon Hartley’s victory on Sunday means that all six of Porsche’s regular WEC season drivers have now won Le Mans. Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber now have two overall wins, the latter coming in both of his starts in LMP1 competition in the race.

***It was also the first time two Kiwis won the race overall since 1966, when Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon took their Shelby-American Ford GT40 Mk. II to victory, in the Blue Oval’s first of four consecutive overall triumphs. 

***Bernhard said his second Le Mans win was the highlight of his career because it was the culmination of his career with Porsche that started 18 years ago. “It was the first time in my life I was crying for victory,” he said.

***The now two-time Le Mans winner was unable to attend the post-race press conference after being called by the FIA to complete a random doping test. “He’s doing a doping control, which is a bit brutal right after the race,” Hartley said. “Maybe a bit of stage fright, I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him!”

***ORECA President Hugues De Chaunac had mixed emotions post-race, with two of his Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 cars finishing on the overall podium, but at the cost of a disastrous race for Toyota, whom the Frenchman works as a consultant for. “I think it was impossible to anticipate such a situation,” De Chaunac told Sportscar365.

***Despite making four previous appearances at Le Mans as an Audi LMP1 driver, Oliver Jarvis recorded his best-ever overall result at Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday, finishing second for Jackie Chan DC Racing. “Who would have thought that after November when Audi pulled out?” Jarvis said. “Huge credit to Jota Sport and Jackie Chan DC Racing.”

***Thomas Laurent may have been one of the stars of the race in the No. 38 Oreca, but his debut wasn’t all plain sailing for the 19-year-old Frenchman. “It was really hard to sleep,” he revealed. “I was quite good on the car, but after, when I get out of the car, it was really hard to find a place to be at peace and it’s like that. It was my first Le Mans so it was really exciting.”

***The No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca was given a 35-second post-race penalty due mechanics pushing the car in the pit lane, with a two-minute time penalty added to the No. 49 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P217 Gibson as Konstantin Calko exceeded the maximum four-hour drive time in a six-hour period by two minutes.

***Reliability issues also struck a number of LMP2 teams in the race debut of the new-generation machinery. Both Vaillante Rebellion Orecas made visits to the garage, while the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217 Gibaon had an alternator and starter motor change. The lone Riley Mk. 30 Gibson in the race, entered by Keating Motorsports, meanwhile, faced a litany of issues en route to a 21st placer finish in class.

***Emmanuel Collard escaped serious injury following his heavy accident at the Porsche Curves in the 14th hour. Collard was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and released with just bruising, according to a WEC spokesperson.

***Risi Competizione’s Pierre Kaffer was also OK following his high-speed shunt on the Mulsanne Straight, triggered by contact from a LMP2 car. The impact, which ripped a large chunk of barrier, resulted in extensive damage to the Ferrari 488 GTE. It’s believed the brand-new chassis, which made its debut at the Le Mans Test Day, could be a write-off. Regardless, the team had planned to utilize its U.S.-based car in the next IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

***Daniel Serra completed an impressive debut at Le Mans by recording the fastest lap of the race for a GTE car. The Brazilian managed a best time of 3:50.950, half a second faster than Scott Dixon’s best lap of the race last year and just one-tenth off Turner’s pole lap in qualifying.

***GTE-Am class winners JMW Motorsport only received its new Ferrari 488 GTE in time for the Le Mans Test Day earlier this month. The win came as vindication for the Jim McWhirter-owned team, which was denied an entry to the race last year, instead being named to the reserve list.

***Dries Vanthoor was delighted to become the first member of his family to record a victory at Le Mans on his first race appearance, in JMW’s Ferrari. His elder brother Laurens has contested the event twice before. “I sent Laurens a text when I got out of the car [saying], ‘You did it twice, I did it one time and I won it straight away!’ Of course I will joke with him a bit on that but it’s really cool that I can be the first one.”

***The new-for-2017 rule limiting driver stint lengths to 80 minutes in the event of excessive ambient temperatures did not come into play in the race as initially expected. The perceived ambient temperature, recorded pre-race, was below the 32-degree Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) minimum for the limitation to be activated. 

****An officially recorded figure of 258,500 spectators attended the event over the course of the weekend, slightly down on the 263,500 record set last year.

***The WEC website was unavailable for periods of time during the race. According to the series, the outage was due to a series of cyber attacks that also impacted the live timing and scoring page online.

***On Monday, the FIA World Motor Sport Council confirmed the date of next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans for June 16-17, 2018. The full WEC schedule will be presented to the WMSC at a later date.

Luke Smith, James Newbold and Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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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