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WEC - Porsche win Le Mans as Toyota falter on last lap

WEC - 2016 24 Heures du Mans - Race report after 24 Hours

There is an old saying in motorsport that to finish first, first you have to finish and today that applied to the Toyota TS050 hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in dramatic circumstances. 

Nakajima held an 80 second advantage over the no2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb and looked on course to secure a famous victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Champions.  However fate had other ideas as the no5 Toyota lost power as the Japanese driver came through the Ford chicane to begin the last lap.  The car stopped and allowed Jani to take the lead and take the chequered to secure Porsche’s second Le Mans win in a row and the 18th overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  

Nakajima managed to get the Toyota moving again, but very slowly.  With a three lap advantage over the no6 Toyota, he just needed to complete the final lap before the cut off time of six minutes, but the Toyota took far longer and was not classified in the final results.  The devastation in the Toyota pit was in direct contrast to the jubilant scenes in the Porsche garage.

Second place went to the no6 Toyota TS050 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stephane Sarrazin, 3 laps behind the winning Porsche, with final podium spot going to the no8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 of Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval 12 laps down.

The no7 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer finished 4th, 17 laps down, with the no1 Porsche of reigning world champions Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard finished 13th after the enforced 2 hours in the garage.   The only LMP1 Privateer to finish the race was the no12 Rebellion Racing R-One of Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost and Nelson Piquet Jr, which finished in 29th overall.

The LMP2 honours went to the no36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and Gustavo Mendez. It was Lapierre’s second LMP2 win at Le Mans in a row after securing victory with KCMG in 2015.  The French team finished two minutes forty seconds ahead of the no26 G Drive Racing Oreca of Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and Will Stevens.  The no37 SMP Racing BR01 of Vitaly Petrov, Kirill Ladygin and Victor Shaitar took the final class podium place ensuring a 1-2-3 for FIA WEC competitors.

In LMGTE Pro it was the opposite case as the podium places were filled by US teams, with Ford securing a historic victory on their return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 50 years after their 1-2-3 podium lockout in the 1966 race.  The victory went to the no68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA of Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais.  The top WEC competitor was the no66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke and Billy Johnson, which finished 4th in class but collects the 50 world championship points.   The No.95 (Turner-Thiim-Sørensen) and No.97 (Stanaway-Rees-Adam) Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8s were 5th and 6th in class and will collect 36 and 30 championship points respectively.

In LMGTE AM the victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans also went to a competitors from the USA, the no62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 Italia, which finished nearly three minutes ahead of the second placed no83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of Rui Aguas, Emanuelle Collard and Francois Perrodo, who were the top WEC competitors in the class.  The final class podium went to the WEC entered no88 Abu Dhabi – Proton Racing Porsche of Patrick Long, Khalid Al Qubaisi and David Heinemeier-Hansson, who finished one lap behind the two Ferraris.

Held in front of a crowd of 263,500 spectators, and finishing in bright sunshine to contrast with the very wet start, the cornerstone event of the FIA WEC has once again left everyone with multiple memories of some great performances on track.

Porsche on 127 points now hold a 32 point advantage in the World Endurance Teams’ Championship over Audi (95 pts) and 48 ahead of Toyota.  Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas now have a commanding 39 points lead in the Drivers’ Championship, with 95 points compared to 55 points for Loic Duval, Oliver Jarvis and Lucas di Grassi.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on 22-24 July 2016.