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Manthey Porsches Claim 1-2 in GTE-Pro

Estre, Christensen, Vanthoor Porsche wins GTE-Pro at Le Mans…

Photo: Porsche

The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor claimed GTE-Pro class honors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the German manufacturer picked up a historic 1-2 result.

The ‘Pink Pig’ never let slip of its class lead after Estre moved ahead during a fourth-hour safety car period, with the Porsche package going on to exhibit the quickest pace around Circuit de la Sarthe.

Estre saw the checkered flag 48 seconds ahead of Richard Lietz in the Rothmans-themed No. 91 Porsche which the Austrian shared with Gianmaria Bruni and Frederic Makowiecki.

It marked Porsche’s first win in the GTE-Pro class since 2013, when it also claimed a 1-2 with the previous-generation 911 RSR, and the first 24-hour win for the mid-engined car that also took class honors at this year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The No. 92 car moved into what turned out to be an unassailable lead shortly after Vanthoor handed over to Estre in the fourth hour.

A fortuitously-timed safety car period, which was called to clean up debris caused by a puncture for the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, occurred not long after the changeover.

When the safety car came out, several GTE-Pro cars including the contending No. 91 Porsche and No. 68 Ford GT rushed into the pits, only to be held by a red light at the end of the lane.

That stoppage cost the main group around two minutes, while Estre proceeded to inherit a massive on-track advantage.

The ‘Pink Pig’ crew then managed the gap through the night and into Sunday without incident as the other runners tried in vain to make inroads.

Porsche’s No. 91 car, meanwhile, was then involved in a tense final-quarter fight for second with the No. 68 Ford.

Makowiecki came under pressure from Sebastien Bourdais, who benefited from a 19th-hour safety car period to get on the Frenchman’s tail.

Bourdais drew alongside the Porsche at the first Mulsanne chicane, but Makowiecki shut the door as the pair ran nose-to-tail through the fastest sections of the 8.5-mile course.

The Ford driver then produced a sweeping overtake around the outside at the right-kink before Indianapolis, but Makowiecki dragged past on the run to the Porsche Curves as Bourdais took to the run-off in avoidance before slipping back.

Dirk Mueller, who Bourdais partnered along with Joey Hand, encroached on the Porsche in the final stint but fell just over a minute short of disrupting the one-two.

Ford’s No. 67 car driven by Andy Priaulx, Harry Ticnknell and Tony Kanaan finished two minutes, 45 seconds down in fourth after recovering from a sixth-hour drive-through penalty for speeding under a Slow Zone.

It was the only other GTE-Pro car on the lead lap at the finish, with the No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller one lap adrift in fifth.

Corvette’s sister car retired in Hour 20 after being plagued with suspension issues early on.

The No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE finished two laps down in sixth, while the No. 66 Ford was a further lap back in seventh, with the best of the new-generation Aston Martin Vantages finishing four laps adrift in ninth.

BMW Team MTEK ran with the leaders during the early night running but its podium challenge was dismantled by problems for both of its Le Mans-debuting BMW M8 GTEs.

The No. 81 car underwent repairs to a front-right damper failure that bumped it off the lead lap, before suspension issues compounded its recovery later on.

The No. 82 car, meanwhile, retired in Hour 16 when Alexander Sims crashed out at the Porsche Curves.

RESULTS: 24H Le Mans

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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