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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from the 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Toyota

***Toyota’s victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans came in its 20th attempt in the enduro. The Japanese manufacturer had entered 47 cars at Le Mans prior to last weekend’s race.

***Kazuki Nakajima became the third Japanese driver to win Le Mans outright, following in the footsteps of Masanori Sekiya and Seiji Ara. Ara won the race with Audi Sport Japan Team Goh in 2004, which ran under the Japanese flag and was the most recent Japanese team on the top step of the podium.

***It was also the first time since 2013 that a German driver hasn’t been on the overall podium, with the history books dating back to 2003 when the last time that neither a German driver or German-entered team had finished in the top-three.

***Both the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid and No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson were handed a pair of ten-second stop-and-hold penalties in the final hour for fuel overconsumption and exceeding its stint length limit of 11 and ten laps, respectively. 

***Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon indicated that Kamui Kobayashi, who was at the wheel of the Toyota at the time, likely “lost concentration” and simply forgot to pit. “He just missed to pit,” Vasselon told Sportscar365. “But we were not nervous as we anticipated it; It was one of the items in our list.”

***Kobayshi was ordered to switch to the Full Course Yellow speed limiter and crawled back to the pits under the car’s own power, thanks to the fuel conservation. 

***Vasselon believes the penalties, both given to the No. 7 Toyota and the Rebellion, were justified. “The regulations gives limits. As soon as you go beyond limits, you need a penalty,” he told Sportscar365.

***The late-race scare for the No. 7 Toyota ultimately prevented the enforcement of team orders, which Toyota was prepared to utilize if needed. “Just the last laps, we took the opportunity to bring the cars together,” Vasselon said. “Towards the end they were behaving correctly on the track. We let them go forward. We really didn’t have at some point to shout at the radio to tell them [team owners]. I would say it was natural.”

***Fernando Alonso became the third driver in history to win Le Mans overall after already winning a Formula 1 world championship, joining Phil Hill and Graham Hill, who achieved the feats in 1962 and 1972, respectively. 

***Gustavo Menezes, who finished third in the No. 3 Rebellion, became the first American to stand on the overall podium at Le Mans since Butch Leitzinger’s third place finish with Bentley in 2001.

***Thomas Laurent has a 100 percent overall podium record after two starts in the race. The 20-year-old Frenchman finished third with Rebellion this year after coming second overall and taking the LMP2 class win with Jackie Chan DC Racing in 2017.

***Roman Rusinov picked up his first Le Mans class win in LMP2, coming on his ninth attempt. The Russian driver claimed third and second place results in 2015 and 2016 respectively but had never won the class despite taking the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 title in 2015.

***French-run teams took the top four positions in LMP2 while at least two French drivers were in each of those cars. TDS Racing had two cars in the top-four, including the Russian-flagged G-Drive-backed entry, while Graff and Signatech Alpine Matmut were both on the podium.

***TDS was one of four cars penalized post-race for drive-time infractions that also stripped the No. 67 Ford GT of a fourth place finish in GTE-Pro.

***It was a particularly successful day for ORECA, with its LMP2 chassis sweeping the top four positions in class, the ORECA-built Rebellion finishing on the overall podium and Toyota, which is staffed by the French organization, finishing 1-2.

***BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt said the pair of MTEK-run BMW M8 GTEs “showed potential” in its Le Mans debut, although hampered by suspension-related issues. “Things [happened] that we hadn’t seen so far in testing, but then again obviously it’s a different track with a different setup and everything,” he told Sportscar365.

***The No. 82 BMW, which fought back from a broken left-front damper in the seventh hour, ultimately retired in the 16th hour following an accident by Alexander Sims. Both cars showed increased pace in the race following a series of post-qualifying Balance of Performance adjustments. 

***The suspension issue that struck the No. 64 Corvette C7.R was unrelated to the problems both cars faced at the Le Mans Test Day, according to Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. The Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler-driven car retired in the 20th hour with overheating issues, which was unrelated to the earlier problem.

***Both of the CORE autosport-run Porsche 911 RSRs were not as lucky as the GTE-Pro class-winning Manthey entries, with the No. 94 car retiring after sustaining damage to a pickup point in the seventh hour and the No. 93 Porsche spending more than 25 minutes in the garage undergoing an alternator change.

***Selected GTE-Pro cars were impounded post-race to undergo 3D scanning on Monday, as part of the FIA’s enhanced homologation process. It’s understood to have come as a surprise by some teams, particularly with several cars due to be air-freighted to the U.S. this week in order to make the next IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round.

***At 18 years of age, Julien Andlauer became the youngest-ever class winner at Le Mans. The Frenchman shared the wheel of the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche with Christian Ried and Matt Campbell, who was also in his Le Mans debut.

***The official attendance figure for the race is 256,900, a slight reduction from last year’s reported number of 258,500. A record attendance of 263,500 was reached in both 2015 and 2016.

***FIA President Jean Todt revealed in a pre-race press conference that a push is underway to encourage the participation of more women in the WEC. Details on the FIA’s initiative have yet to be released. “We are making little steps and we feel that endurance is the performance field to encourage women to participate and participate together with males in the same kind of motor racing,” Todt said.

Jake Kishaw and Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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