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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Toyota

***This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi completed 385 laps, three fewer than their victory last year.

***The No. 7 Toyota, which essentially lost the race due to a tire sensor issue, led all but 46 laps of the race. Pole-sitter Kamui Kobyashi admitted post-race that losing out in the final hour was “hard to take it, but this is life, and this is racing.”

***Kobayashi’s co-driver Mike Conway set a new race lap record of 3:17.297, which came on Lap 4. It broke the previous record of 3:17.475 held by Andre Lotterer in an Audi R18 e-tron quattro from 2015.

***Neither of the Toyotas encountered any issues, aside from Lopez’s puncture and earlier off-course excursion for the No. 7 car. Both cars, however, were seen swapping bodywork frequently through the race.

***This year’s Le Mans marked the first in eight years that the top two cars have finished on the lead lap. The last time was in 2011, when the No. 2 Audi R18 TDI beat the No. 9 Peugeot 908 by 13.754 seconds.

***Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon said the team “anticipated” the No. 3 Rebellion Racing R13 Gibson overtaking the No. 8 Toyota at the start. Gustavo Menezes briefly got past Buemi on the Mulsanne straight, but the positions switched later in the lap. “We decided to pass them where we know we could pass them without risking anything,” Vasselon told Sportscar365.

***While LMP1 non-hybrids once again failed to challenge the Toyotas, the margin of victory was reduced from 12 to six laps this year, with the No. 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER of Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin and Stoffel Vandoorne completing 379 laps in the first trouble-free 24-hour race for the Russian-funded prototype.

***The No. 3 Rebellion was given a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for a “tire rules infringement” in Hour 16, which saw the Swiss squad using tires that were not on the reintroduction list prior to those that were on the list.

***Stoffel Vandoorne equaled his own WEC speed record of 350 km/h (217.5 mph) on lap 40 of the race. The SMP Racing driver had already established the fastest-ever recorded speed in the series during the pre-event Test Day.

***Michelin claimed its 22nd consecutive overall win at Le Mans, having taken victories in all four classes. Remarkably, it was the French tire giant’s first LMP2 class win at Le mans since 2010.

***Brazilian drivers earned victories in three of the four classes, with Andre Negrao (LMP2) picking up his second consecutive class win, Daniel Serra (GTE-Pro) his second in the last three years and Felipe Fraga (GTE-Am) his first in his race debut.

***The GTE-Pro class saw 38 lead changes between seven of the 17 cars in the class. Only cars from Ford and BMW, in their final factory appearances, didn’t lead the race.

***Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook said it was a “bittersweet” finish to its factory Ford GT program at Le Mans, with the cars finishing in positions fourth through seventh in GTE-Pro.

“We accomplished a lot with this program in a very short time frame and that’s a credit to the Ford GT being a great race car, but also having great drivers and partners like Chip Ganassi Racing, Multimatic and Roush Yates,” Rushbrook said.

***It marked the final race outing for the Multimatic-run WEC crew, meanwhile, with the Chip Ganassi Racing-operated IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team still having a half of a season to run.

***The No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE was given a formal reprimand for the car exceeding its boost levels and being below the required lambda, as declared on the Balance of Performance, early in the race.

***Sportscar365 understands that several teams also received verbal warnings about minimum refueling times at stages through the race, although were not penalized. 

***The biggest penalty to come out of the race went to Marcel Fassler who was given six behaviorial warning points and a  €7,000 ($7,900) fine for “causing a collision” with the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR of Satoshi Hoshino, a sanction that’s understood to not have been well-received in the Corvette camp.

***There were a total of eight safety car periods, adding up to 2 hours and 10 minutes, along with 30 minutes of Full Course Yellows, which were introduced for the first time at Le Mans this year.

***Ben Keating has vowed to return to Le Mans next year after securing an automatic invite for winning GTE-Am with his Keating Motorsports Ford GT, which was a one-off race. It would mark the Texan’s sixth consecutive start, although Keating would not confirm details of the program.

***A number of historic cars were on parade laps prior to the start of the race, including the 1999-winning BMW V12 LMR, driven by Yannick Dalmas, and a Gulf-liveried Ford GT40 driven by Jacky Ickx. 

***The ACO released a reported attendance of 252,500 for the weekend, down from the 256,900 spectators from last year and record attendance of 263,500 in both 2015 and 2016.

***Further details on the FIA’s ‘Motorsport Games’ is expected to be confirmed later this week. The “multidisciplinary sporting event” announced in Friday’s World Motor Sport Council will be held in Rome from Oct. 31 – Nov. 3 and is expected to be part of the previously announced FIA GT Nations Cup, which is taking place on the same weekend at the nearby Vallelunga circuit.

Daniel Lloyd, Jake Kilshaw and Laurent Mercier 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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