Porsche GT Team claimed victory in the final GTE-Pro race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki breaking a near three-year winless streak in FIA World Endurance Championship competition.
The German manufacturer benefited from misfortune by both AF Corse and Corvette Racing to take top class honors for the first time since 2018 and the maiden Le Mans win for the RSR-19 model, in its second-to-last outing at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Makowiecki was embroiled in a battle with the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of Alessandro Pier Guidi with less than five hours to go until the Italian driver was forced to make an unscheduled stop for a right-rear punctured tire.
He inherited a 30-plus second lead and managed to increase the advantage in the final hours of the around-the-clock endurance classic, finishing 42.684 seconds ahead of James Calado.
It was the No. 91 Porsche’s first WEC class win since the 2019-20 season-opener at Silverstone.
Both Lietz and Bruni claimed their fourth Le Mans crowns while Frenchman Makowiecki scored his long-awaited first Le Mans win after 11 previous starts.
Pier Guidi and Calado’s quest for a second consecutive Le Mans class win came up one position short, in the car they shared this year with fellow Ferrari factory driver Daniel Serra.
The sister No. 52 Ferrari of Miguel Molina, Antonio Fuoco and Davide Rigon completed the GTE-Pro podium in third, meanwhile.
It came after the No. 92 Porsche, which took over the lead in the eighth hour, suffered a right-front puncture in the hands of Michael Christensen that destroyed the nose of the car in Hour 16.
Christensen, who had two lock-ups following a rapid brake change, limped the car back to the pits and lost three laps undergoing repairs en route to a fourth place class finish with co-drivers Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.
The privateer Riley Motorsports Ferrari of Sam Bird, Felipe Fraga and Shane van Gisbergen completed the top-five after a relatively trouble-free run that lacked the outright pace of the factory entries.
Both Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs, which swept the front row in qualifying, retired due to various issues, marking the first time since 2010 that neither of the Pratt & Miller-run works entries got to the finish.
The No. 63 entry of Jordan Taylor, Antonio Garcia and Nicky Catsburg led the opening hours until suffering broken left-rear suspension prior to a second trip to the garage to change its diffuser.
The car was ultimately retired with six hours to go with “significant mechanical damage” that led to an ill-handling car.
Class pole-sitter Nick Tandy and co-drivers Tommy Milner and Alexander Sims’ race ended moments later after Sims was hit by the No. 83 AF Corse Oreca 07 Gibson of Francois Perrodo while attempting a three-wide maneuver on the Mulsanne Straight.
It came while Sims was battling for the class lead with Pier Guidi after rebounding from an unscheduled brake change early on.
TF Sport Claims GTE-Am Class Honors With Keating
Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorensen came out on top in GTE-Am, giving TF Sport and Aston Martin its second class victory in the last three years.
The British-run Aston Martin Vantage GTE took a 44.446-second win over the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche of Julien Andlauer, Cooper MacNeil and Thomas Merrill.
The No. 33 Aston emerged from the race’s only safety car period with nearly a one-lap lead and remained out front for the remainder of the race.
It marked the first Le Mans class victories for all three drivers, including Bronze-rated Texan Keating, who was stripped of his win in a Ford GT in 2019 due to a technical infraction.
The Proton Competition-run WeatherTech Porsche led early in the hands of Andlauer and Bronze-rated Merrill, who impressed although suffered a pair of spins.
NorthWest AMR’s Nicki Thiim, David Pittard and Paul Dalla Lana completed the class podium in third, ahead of the Porsches from GR Racing and No. 88 Dempsey Proton entry, which were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Trouble struck several podium contenders, including the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton and No. 99 Absolute Racing-backed entries both with suspension damage.
The Hardpoint Motorsport-listed, Proton-run Porsche dropped out of the top-three with its trip to the garage with four hours to go, followed by a spin by Andrew Haryanto, who beached the Absolute entry while in fourth with 1 hour and 14 minutes remaining.
Sebastian Priaulx, meanwhile, was at the wheel of the No. 77 Porsche when it suffered suspension woes while in third.
Of note, the No. 93 Proton Competition Porsche, featuring Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender in his Le Mans debut, finished 16th in class after multiple delays.
RESULTS: 24 Hours of Le Mans