The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the biggest automotive event of the year and it’s an important race for the manufactures because winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a prestige title and in this round of the WEC the points earned are doubled.
Last year Audi won for the 13th time but Porsche and Toyota didn’t make it an easy win for them. This year there’s a new contender in the LMP1 class at Le Mans. Nissan makes it debut with its new 1250 hp FWD GTR LM Nismo. In the GT class surprisingly we find that the Vipers are back after a gap year, they’ll have to make up the bad results from 2 years ago.
Qualifying showed some interesting results: Porsche set a new qualifying lap record and locked down the first three places, all 3 LMP1 Nissans got a grid penalty for driving too slow. Porsche’s goal clearly is to win this year while Nissan’s goal will be to finish the race because the cars are clearly off the pace of the competition and are still showing problems, one of the cars didn’t make it to the grid due to clutch problems.
Further more we can expect some exciting battles in the LMP2 and GTE-Pro/Am as last year proved to be very difficult with wheel to wheel racing during the whole race.
24:00 Race start:
Clean start with the 3 Porsches maintaining the lead closely followed by the 3 Audis and the 2 Toyotas. In the GTE-Pro class the battle between Ferrari and Aston Martin opens with continuing position switches. The third Nissan’s clutch problem was fixed, half an hour after the start. Coming at the end of the first hour the door of the Blue Nissan suddenly popped open at Les Hunaudières. Surprisingly the GTE Porsches can’t keep up with the pace of the rest of the GTE’s
The Rebellion hits the Strakka Racing which hits the Factory Porsche 911 resulting in the Porsche setting itself on fire. First safety car deployed to make sure the oil leak gets cleaned. Porsche takes the first 2 places, followed by the 3 Audi’s.
Halfway in the 2nd hour the #7 Audi makes an aggressive move moving from 3rd to 1st place.
The #96 Aston Martin goes into the pit box with damaged front left suspension arm. Audi continues going strong setting solid 3:18 lap times, while Toyota struggles to keep up with Porsche and Audi. Halfway the 3rd hour the leading Audi #7 gets called in again shortly after it’s last pitstop due to a flat tire, the #17 Porsche leads the race again. Audi #8 gets off the track because of a slowzone and hits the AF Corse Ferrari causing a safety car to repair the barrier.
Safety car continues while the #88 Porsche 911 RSR catches fire at Tertre Rouge. Coming at the end of the 4th hour Corvette leads the GTE-Pro closely followed by the Aston Martin Art Car until it spun at the first chicane at Les Hunaudières.
Entering the 5th hour at Le Mans the #9 Audi sets the fastest lap of 3:17 in pursuit of the #17 Porsche.
Just after the 5th hour at Le Mans the #1 Toyota gets back into the pits for a front nose change, while the #4 CLM is causing a lot of smoke in the garage. Continuing with the #41 Grease Gibson coming to a halt after the Dunlop Chicane. Audi leads the race once again after a pit stop from the #17 Porsche.
Audi pushes even more forward as the sun begins to set at Le Mans securing 1st and 2nd place. Porsche is trying to be more conservative in this stage of the race trying to do less stops then Audi.
The #23 GTR LM Nismo is in the pit garage where the mechanics are working on the brakes of the car. #18 Porsche misses it’s braking point resulting in a small kiss with the barrier at Mulsanne but is in need of a new front nose and driver change. The strategy Porsche is using trying to hold on to the Audis seems to be difficult to maintain in this stage of the race. the #40 Krohm Racing Ligier comes to a halt on Les Hunaudières but is able to restart and go on. Corvette leads the GTE-Pro class, 8 seconds ahead of Aston Martin.
#19 Porsche is starting to struggle losing speed on the straights and early braking is causing the car to lose a lot of time. Third place in the LMP2 crashes hard at Mulsanne, the Alpine tries to restart the car and a safety car is deployed.
Safety car gets replaced by a slow zone at Mulsanne while the barriers get repaired. Mark Webber takes its 1 minute stop & go penalty because they overtook during a yellow flag. In the GTE-Pro there’s been a switch in the lead, the Aston Martin overtakes the Corvette during the pit stops.
9 hours into the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the #19 porsche leads the race 6 seconds ahead of pursuing Audi. Nissan is still struggling to keep their cars on track while the #22 GTR LM Nismo’s front has come off after colliding with debris on track. It looks to be Nissan’s hour of bad luck since the #23 misses its braking point and shut down before trying to continue with the race. #21 GTR LM Nismo is scraping its bottom plate against the asphalt and it looks like one of it’s wheels isn’t turning which could mean that it’s suffering suspension damage. It bravely tries to get back to the pits but its still far from it.
Slow zone at Arnage continues while the #21 GTR LM Nismo is on it’s last legs. Tire smoke coming from the #83 AF Corse which looks like a puncture. Once again the #18 Porsche goes off the track at Mulsanne and touching the barrier, it’s starting to look like the car is struggling to keep the brakes working properly. The #31 Ligier takes the curb too hard resulting in it hitting the barrier in the Porsche Curves shutting down it’s lights and driving a bit like a crab.
At the start of the 12th hour at Le Mans Porsche still leads the race followed by the Audis, in the GTE-Pro class Aston Martin still leads the race very closely followed by the Corvette and the lead continues to switch between the 2 cars, this is pure wheel-to-wheel racing as we approach the halfway point of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Toyota hasn’t been facing any major problems at this stage of the race and remaining behind the Audis and Porsches.
12:00 halfway point
The cars have just passed the 12 hour mark and rain stays away from the race track contradicted to the weather forecasts. Suddenly the #66 Ferrari catches fire heavily while refueling in the pit lane before heading into the garage for a closer inspection.
It’s one of the calmer hours at Le Mans but Happy Hour is coming, Corvette continues the pursuit of the Aston Martin and the #22 GTR LM Nismo finally gets back out of the pits. The #99 leading Aston Martin in GTE-Pro gets pushed into the pit garage to replace brakes. First lap when it gets out of the garage it misses it braking point resulting in a collision with an LMP2 car so the car has to get back in to repair the front of the car. In the meantime the #64 is changing its brakes passing the lead on to Ferrari.
The#64 TDS Oreca which got hit by the #99 Aston Martin is slowly heading to the pits for extensive repairs to the back of the car. And the darkness is starting to fade away action starts to pick up with small errors turning into big mistakes but surprisingly except from the Nissan’s every other manufacturing team still runs without much problems. As the black sky turns into blue we can see from the laps the cars are making that Happy Hour has started at Le Mans. Position switch in the leading class, Audi #7 takes the lead from Porsche #19.
The #12 Rebellion crashed into the barrier, leaving it stuck at Indianapolis. Pieces of bodywork are coming off the rear of Audi #7 before heading into the pit garage.
Lap times ar continuing to improve but the #35 Ligier looks like it’s struggling for grip, spinning at both chicanes on Les Hunaudières. The Aston Martin #96 crashes just out of the Porsche Curves resulting in a new safety car.
Safety car releases the field once again after a long neutralization, luckily the driver of the Aston Martin is unharmed. Audi #9 might be suffering from some electronic problems as the car needs to do a reset during the first and second chicane of Les Hunaudières. The Ferrari #55 looks like it’s struggling with its fuel at Indianapolis at may be unable to reach the pit lane.
As we have 6 hours left on the clock the Corvette is leading the GTE-Pro by jumping in front of it in the pit lane. Porsche leads the race in first and second place in the LMP1. The SRT Viper spins off the track at the Ford Chicane.
#37 SMP Racing gets a punctured tire with not too many damage to the bodywork. The Porsche #18 has a problem with its hybrid system, because of this it’s missing a lot of power. The 2nd place in the GTE-AM goes into the barrier, the #72 SMP Racing is stuck in the gravel trap and might need a new nose. Drive Through penalty for Audi #7 due to Fässler disrespecting a slow zone at the start/finish straight.
4 hours left in this 24 hour race at Le Mans and rain is starting to fall out of the sky. Bleekemolen is reporting that the SRT Viper has lost first and second gear just as it was gaining on the leader in the GTE-Am. Audi #9 gets pushed in the pit box and mechanics are looking at the front of the car to solve the problem with the hybrid system and the tires but when the car gets out of the pits once again, brakes fail at the second chicane of Les Hunaudières. #91 Manthey Porsche suffers from a collapsed suspension leaving the wheel jammed in the wheel arch. After the #9 Audi, the #8 goes in the pit box but this time the engineers are examining the engine compartiment.
Corvette keeps chasing the leader in the GTE-Pro class while the #7 Audi is desperately trying to close the gap to the Porsches. But coming at the end of the 22nd hour the #7 gets pushed in the pit box , the mechanics have a quick look at the engine and quickly get it back on track. But it looks like Audi is losing the race because the car pits next lap because the engine cover pins are damaged by the dollies to drive it in the pit box so the answer is “vorsprung durch duct tape”. Meanwhile all three Porsches are still running like clockwork.
Suddenly at Mulsanne the #51 loses power giving the lead back to Corvette, the car gets back to the garage for examination, it seems it has some problems with the gearbox and this could mean the end of a podium finish for them. The #23 GTR LM Nismo is steaming at the side of the track, it looks like the brakes are once again on fire. The SRT Viper retires after too much gearbox problems. Meanwhile the #40 Krohn Racing gets a puncture after Tertre Rouge during contact with another car.
As the final hour starts, rain begins to close in on Le Mans which could still change everything. The leader in the GTE-AM crashed at the Ford Chicane, the #98 Aston Martin just went straight in the barrier but luckily the driver came out of the car with no injuries.
0:00 the checkered flag drops
After 24 hours of racing Porsche wins Le Mans in first and second place, followed by Audi in third place, KCMG wins in the LMP2 class, the last Corvette wins in GTE-Pro and SMP Racing wins in the GTE-Am class.