Sunday, June 14, 2015

Porsche Scores 17th Victory in 83rd Le Mans

For the first time since 1998, Porsche has won Le Mans. The #19 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Nico Hülkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy took the checkered flag, completing 395 laps, giving the German manufacture a record extending 17th Le Mans victory. Hülkenberg and Bamber win on their Le Mans debuts while Tandy wins in his third Le Mans start, first in the LMP1 class.

Tandy becomes the 30th different British driver to win at Le Mans, breaking a tie with France for country with most winning drivers for a nation. Tandy's win is the 42nd time a Brit has won at Le Mans and the United Kingdom is now tied with France for most wins for a nation. Bamber becomes the first New Zealander to win at Le Mans since Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon won the 1966 race in the Ford GT40 Mk. II. Hülkenberg is the 18th German to win at Le Mans and this is Germany's 29th Le Mans victory.

The #17 Porsche of Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard came home second, one lap down and top of FIA World Endurance Championship eligible entry. The #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler rounded out the overall podium, two laps down. The #8 Audi of Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis finished fourth, four laps down with the pole-sitting #18 Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb rounding out the top five, eight laps back.

The #2 Toyota TS040 of Alexander Wurz, Mike Conway and Stéphane Sarrazin finished sixth with the #9 Audi of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and René Rast in seventh. The defending world champions, #1 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima finished eighth.

The #47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan of Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson and Nicolas Lapierre won in LMP2 and finished ninth overall. The KCMG Oreca started on pole in class and dominated the race. It is the first Le Mans class victory for all three KCMG drivers. Jota Sport made a valiant effort for back-to-back LMP2 victories at Le Mans but fell short, as the #38 Gibson-Nissan of Oliver Turvey, Simon Dolan and Mitch Evans finished second in class, tenth overall. The #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan of Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal rounded out the class podium, 11th overall. The top three in LMP2 all completed 358 laps.

Corvette overcame the adversity of having to withdraw the #63 Corvette after a practice accident on Thursday as the #64 Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor won in GTE-Pro, completing 337 laps and finished 17th overall. It is Corvette's first win since 2011. Gavin picks up his fifth class victory but first since 2006. This is Milner's second Le Mans class victory. He was apart of the winning Corvette in 2011. This is Taylor's first class victory at Le Mans, joining his father Wayne as a class winner at Le Mans. Like Porsche, the Taylor family's last Le Mans victory was in 1998 when Wayne won in LMP1 driving a Ferrari 333 SP with Eric van de Poele and Fermín Velez.

The #71 and #51 AF Corse Ferraris finished second and third in class. Davide Rigon, James Calado and Olivier Beretta take second with Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella in third. The #51 was leading until two hours to go when they suffered a mechanical failure, forcing them into the garage for nearly a half hour. The #71 finished five laps back of the #64 Corvette with the #51 seven laps back.

The big surprise came in GTE-Am. The #98 Aston Martin had a two-lap lead entering the final hour but Paul Dalla Lana had accident with 45 minutes to go at the Ford chicane ending his hopes as well as those of Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. The #72 SMP Racing Ferrari of Viktor Shaitar, Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov won the GTE-Am class; completing 332 laps with the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Marco Seefried, Patrick Demspey and Patrick Long finishing second, one lap back. The #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Jeff Segal, Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, all Le Mans rookies, finished third in GTE-Am, two laps off the #72 Ferrari.

The next round of the FIA WEC season will be August 30th from the Nürburgring.