24 Hours of LeMans – Porsche Trick’s ‘Em
Photos courtesy of Porsche Newsroom
If you merely look at the results Last weekend’s 24 Hours of LeMans, the outcome was somewhat predictable as our own Gary Medley wrote last week. But the box score doesn’t tell the whole story. It was an attrition-filled and bizarre 24 Hours at France’s Circuit de la Sarthe which saw every single LMP1 car, most noteably the LMP1 Toyota TS050’s hit mechanical trouble. In fact, only two of the LMP1’s – the event’s top tier, finished the race. Over half of the 100-car field experienced some kind of mechanical malady.
With just over an hour remaining in one of the world’s greatest auto races, Porsche driver Timo Bernhard drove the 900hp Porsche hybrid LMP1 race car past leader Ho-Pin Tung in Jackie Chan’s #38 DC Racing Oreca 07. A lesser powered LMP2 car, the Oreca took the lead by showing remarkable consistency. Everyone else was mired in the pits for periods of time while the team of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and 19-year old Thomas Laurent basically outlasted everyone for 23 hours. In fact, they were the first lower classification vehicle to lead Le Mans. But like a horse who sets the pace in a race, the Oreca got nipped at the wire by the factory Porsche car.
The fact that Porsche got their 3rd consecutive 24 Hours of LeMans win for the hat trick, was a miracle in its own right. The herculean effort of Porsche’s #2 entry with drivers Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber should not go quietly in the history books. Not only was it unlikely given the hurles, it was historic. It was Porsche’s 19th overall win at the 24 Hours of LeMans – the most ever.
Just three hours in with New Zealand’s Hartley at the controls, the #2 LMP1 Porsche ran into issues, and spent more than an hour in the garage for a full rebuild of the front axle. There was an army of men thrashing hard to get it back out. After the repairs were made and 60-minutes had burned off the clock, the car was more than 20-laps down! Determined, Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley worked their way through the field while others fell by the wayside.
Pre-race favorites, the Toyota TS050 Hybrids LMP1 hybrids had major issues halfway through the race, with only one of their speedy Japanese entries making it across the stripe after a day and night of action. The resulting maladies kept Toyota from a podium finish.
In closing, we give a hearty Fuel Curve salute to the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca team. They darn near rewrote the history books with a win yet still managed to claim 2 of the top four positions overall. That’s hard to do against the mega teams. For complete results, click here.
24 Hours of Le Mas Top 5 finishers:
1. Porsche LMP Team
2. Jackie Chan DC Racing +1 lap
3. Vaillante Rebellion +3 laps
4. Jackie Chan DC Racing +4 laps
5. Signatech Alpine Matmut +5 laps