While having faced a titanic battle with Audi for much of the race, Porsche has come out on top of the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans by taking a historic 1-2 result.
The No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber claimed the German manufacturer’s first overall Le Mans victory since 1998 and broke Audi’s five-year win streak in the French endurance classic.
The trio completed 395 laps, or more than 3,300 miles in front of a crowd of 263,500.
It came following a fast and rather surprisingly reliable run for the second-year LMP1 factory squad, with its third entry, featuring two Le Mans rookies, holding control from the ninth hour.
An impressive overnight stint by Tandy, who increased the gap to the Nos. 7 and 9 Audi R18 e-tron quattros through the night helped solidify their lead prior to both of the diesel-powered cars hitting trouble at daybreak.
Hulkenberg finished one lap ahead of the No. 17 Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, who lost ground in the ninth hour after serving a one-minute stop-and-go penalty for overtaking under a yellow.
The red-liveried Porsche dropped to fourth but regained second when the No. 7 Audi of Marcel Fassler lost seven minutes when its engine cover fell off in the 16th hour, and the No. 9 car also making multiple trips to the garage.
The win marks Porsche’s 17th overall victory at Le Mans, while Hulkenberg becomes the first active Formula One driver since Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot in 1991 to have claimed overall honors in the race.
Even more remarkably, it came in Hulkenberg’s second-ever sports car race, with 2014 Porsche Supercup champion Bamber also in his Le Mans debut.
Defending race winners Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer completed the podium in third after a troubled race for the pre-race favorites.
Lotterer took over the lead in the second hour but was forced to make an unscheduled stop one hour later for a puncture, and coupled with its bodywork issues in the morning, took the No. 7 Audi out of contention.
Audi’s third entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast was in the best position to give the R18 victory but suspension issues saw it plummet down the running order en route to seventh overall.
It promoted the No. 8 Audi to fourth, which rebounded from an accident in the third hour when Loic Duval lost control of his car while in a Slow Zone, resulting in front and rear-end damage.
Toyota had issues of its own, with defending FIA World Endurance Champion Anthony Davidson making contact with a lapped car in the fifth hour, resulting in lengthy repairs and handling issues for the No. 1 Toyota TS040 Hybrid.
It finished 8th overall, behind the sixth-place finishing No. 2 Toyota, which lacked pace all race, with its quickest race lap more than four seconds slower than the Porsche and Audis.
Rebellion Racing wound up best of the LMP1 privateers, with the No. 13 Rebellion R-One AER of Dominik Kraihamer, Daniel Abt and Alexandre Imperatori recording a 18th place overall finish.
The No. 13 car was the least-troubled privateer, with both Rebellion’s No. 13 entry and the No. 4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 AER making multiple trips to the garage.
Nissan got one of its three debuting GT-R LM NISMOs to the checkered flag, although not classified in the end after being more than 150 laps behind the overall race-winning Porsche.
The No. 22 car, driven by Michael Krumm, Alex Buncombe and Harry Tincknell completed 242 laps after battling numerous issues. Both the Nos. 23 and 21 cars were retired.
RESULTS: 24 Hours of Le Mans