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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from 89th edition of 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Toyota

***Toyota scored its fourth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and became the first manufacturer to do so in the new Hypercar era with a 1-2 finish for the pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids, which battled fuel pressure-related issues in the final six hours

***Four-time Le Mans pole-sitter Kamui Kobayashi became the fourth Japanese driver to win the race outright, joining teammate Kazuki Nakajima as well as Seiji Ara and Masanori Sekiya.

***Jose Maria Lopez also added himself to the record books as the first Argentinean driver in 67 years to triumph in the endurance classic after Jose Froilan Gonzalez’s win in a Ferrari 375 Plus in 1954.

***Kobayashi, Lopez and Mike Conway have taken over the lead of the World Drivers’ Championship with their double-points win and now hold a nine-point advantage over teammates Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley heading into the final two FIA World Endurance Championship races of the season in Bahrain.

***Runner-up finisher Buemi explained the first restart of the race where he was tapped from behind by the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 of Olivier Pla and spun around. Pla was given a ten-second penalty for the incident.

“At the start you try to be quite cautious because you go for a 24-hour race, especially if it’s wet,” said Buemi. “I took it easy but he basically locked up the tires and he ended up hitting me. We were somewhat quite lucky as he hit us right in the left-rear wheel. Luckily we didn’t have any damage.”

***Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon said that he expected the competition in the Hypercar class to be closer.  “The lap times we did, if you look at the practice sessions, it was expected for us to do a mid-27. We were expecting the competition to be a bit closer.”

***Vasselon called the No. 8 Toyota’s comeback drive “remarkable” and reckoned that it would have been strong contenders for the win had it not experienced fuel pressure issues. 

***The fastest lap of the race went to Hartley on Lap 60, just over four hours after the 4 p.m. start. The New Zealander set a time of 3:27.607 in the No. 8 Toyota.

***The winning Toyota posted the fastest speed trap figure of the event, and of the Hypercar class in official sessions so far, with Kobayashi breaking the beam at 339.1 km/h (210.7 mph) during the race.

***Michelin picked up its 24th consecutive overall victory at Le Mans in the debut of its new Hypercar class tires. Multiple LMH cars triple-stinted and could have even run quadruple stints had the needed to according to Michelin’s endurance racing program manager Pierre Alves.

***Jim Glickenhaus now owns two cars that have scored fourth place overall finishes at Le Mans, his No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 as well as the Shelby-American Ford Mk IV driven by the late Bruce McLaren and Mark Donohue in 1967. Glickenhaus was proudly wearing an armband from that Ford GT40 effort during the race.

***DragonSpeed’s Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Juan Pablo Montoya became the first official class winners of LMP2 Pro-Am at Le Mans, overcoming a drive-time snafu that forced Bronze-rated Hedman to finish the race due to him being one minute short of the six-hour minimum. 

***An electrical issue ultimately put the No. 24 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca out of the race in the 19th hour. It came after a series of other setbacks including an oil leak and accident by Le Mans debutant Patrick Kelly, who had secured the entry through winning IMSA’s Jim Trueman Award last year.

***The Panis Racing-run PR1/Mathiasen entry was one four retirements and two non-classifications in LMP2 alongside the No. 25 G-Drive Racing Aurus, No. 32 United Autosports Oreca and No. 1 Richard Mille Racing Oreca, which all had accidents.

***Both the No. 82 Risi Competizione Oreca (engine) and No. 31 WRT Oreca were not classified at the finish.

***WRT sporting director Thierry Tassin described the team’s call to perform their late-race changes with an ’emergency lift’ inflatable device after the air jacks failed as a “MacGyver recovery”. He told Sportscar365: “It was great for the team to manage the race like that, because the only other solution was to bring the car inside the box. ”

***Tassin also suggested that Chinese racer Yifei Ye could be considered the “revelation of the race” after an impressive Silver driver performance in the No. 41 Oreca. “He was super-fast and consistent and didn’t make any mistakes,” Tassin reflected.

***Despite not winning on Sunday, the No. 28 JOTA crew are now WEC points leaders in LMP2, courtesy of an 18th place finish for the No. 22 United Autosports lineup that have slipped from first to fourth in the standings. LMP2 race winners Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi are now only one point out of the lead in second.

***A return to the LMP2 top-step continued to evade JOTA, as the two-time class victor finished on the podium without winning for the third consecutive year. The British team did, however, manage to get a car in the LMP2 top five for the eighth year in a row.

***The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 wasn’t the only new chassis on the grid following Thursday’s track action as Inception Racing was forced to go to a spare Ferrari 488 GTE Evo following Ollie Millroy’s accident in Free Practice 4. The Optimum Motorsport-run team finished 12th in the GTE-Am class.

***Alessandro Pier Guidi, Come Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen all claimed GTE class victories at Le Mans on Sunday, just three weeks after teaming for overall victory in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa at the wheel of an IronLynx-entered Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

***Pier Guidi and James Calado retook the World Endurance GT championship lead with their double-points GTE-Pro victory for Ferrari. Kevin Estre and Neel Jani are 12 points behind. The GTE overall points lead has changed after every round of the WEC season so far.

***AF Corse’s Nielsen, Alessio Rovera and Francois Perrodo left Le Mans with an inflated 36.5-point lead in GTE-Am, courtesy of their class win combined with a retirement for their main rivals at Cetilar Racing.

***Cetilar retired after Roberto Lacorte struck the Tertre Rouge tire barrier following a tangle with a GTE-Pro Porsche. The Italian voiced his displeasure after retiring less than seven hours in: “Unfortunately, a Porsche with three laps of delay ran into me in a silly way, without mincing words,” he said. “It was silly because in the following section of the track there would have been the Hunaudieres straight and since it was a Pro car, it could have easily outrun me.”

***Porsche’s head of WEC operations Alex Stehlig described the manufacturer’s GTE-Pro result as “disappointing” after the 2019 winner was unable to match the factory Ferraris and the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R. “Despite our good and systematic preparation, we didn’t have the lap-time performance and the top speed we’d hoped for compared to the competition,” he said.

***Elton Julian has called off efforts to race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year with a DPi car, having told Sportscar365 that he’s “pretty much given up” after not making any headway with Mazda on a potential customer RT24-P for the series.

***With its longest round of the year in the books, the WEC has a long break ahead of it before the final two rounds of the season at Bahrain International Circuit in October and November. European Le Mans Series teams will be in action sooner, with the 4 Hours of Spa taking place in four weeks’ time.

Daniel Lloyd 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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