2015 24 Hours of Le Mans

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2015 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners
The podium for the overall race winners

The 83rd 24 Hours of Le Mans (French: 83e 24 Heures du Mans) was an automobile endurance event held from 10 to 14 June 2015 at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France. It was the 83rd running of the 24 Hour race organised by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest as well as the third round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship. A test day was held two weeks prior to the race on 31 May. A record-breaking 263,500 people attended the event.

The No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas, and Marc Lieb started from pole position after Jani broke the circuit's lap record in qualifying. The race was won by the No. 19 Porsche of Nick Tandy and Le Mans rookies Earl Bamber and Nico Hülkenberg, followed a lap behind by the second Porsche of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. Audi's best car, driven by the title defenders Benoît Tréluyer, Marcel Fässler, and André Lotterer, finished third, a further lap behind the two Porsche vehicles. This was the seventeenth overall victory for Porsche, and their first since 1998.

The LMP2 category was won by the KCMG Oreca-Nissan driven by Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson, and Nicolas Lapierre. The trio led all but nine laps of the race but only held a 48-second lead over the Jota Sport Gibson-Nissan at the race's end. Corvette Racing won their first class victory since 2011 despite one of their two cars being withdrawn after an accident in qualifying. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Jordan Taylor held a five-lap margin in LMGTE Pro over the AF Corse Ferrari in second, after breaking away from the rest of the field in the second half of the race. The LMGTE Am class was led for most of the time by the No. 98 Aston Martin until driver Paul Dalla Lana crashed in the Ford Chicane in the final hour of the race, handing the victory to the SMP Racing Ferrari of Viktor Shaitar, Aleksey Basov, and Andrea Bertolini.

The result meant Lotterer, Tréluyer and Fässler remained the leaders of the Drivers' Championship on 80 points, 20 ahead of Tandy, and a further two in front of his co-drivers Bamber and Hülkenberg. Dumas, Jani and Lieb dropped from second to fourth and Bernhard, Hartley and Webber stood in fifth place. Porsche became the new leaders of the Manufacturers' Championship with 140 points; Audi were 16 points behind their nearest rivals with Toyota 69 points adrift in third with five races left in the season.

Schedule and pre-championship standings[edit]

The 2015 Le Mans schedule was confirmed in an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Munich on 26 June 2014.[1] It was the 83rd running of the event,[1] and the third of eight scheduled rounds of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.[2] Before the race Audi Sport Team Joest drivers André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler led the Drivers' Championship with 50 points, 14 ahead of their nearest rivals Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb and a further 14 in front of third-placed Mike Conway, Stéphane Sarrazin and Alexander Wurz. Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi were fourth on 19 points, and Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber stood in fifth place with 17 points.[3] Audi were leading the Manufacturers' Championship with 70 points, 17 ahead of their rival Porsche in second; the third-place manufacturer Toyota had scored 47 points.[3] Audi had so far dominated the season by winning the first two races of the campaign. Dumas, Jani and Lieb had twice finished in second while Davidson and Buemi along with Bernhard, Hartley and Webber had achieved third-place results.[3]

Circuit and regulation changes[edit]

Layout of the Circuit de la Sarthe

Following the introduction of slow zones during the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race's organiser, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) revised the system for 2015. The limited speed in the zones was increased from 60 km/h (37 mph) to 80 km/h (50 mph). The number of zones around the circuit had also increased from 19 to 35, with a new lighting system to assist marshals added to each zone.[4] Le Mans Prototype (LMP) teams were also required to carry additional flashing rain lights from Le Mans onward following a collision between two prototype cars in the rain at 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps caused by low visibility.[5]

Modifications were made to the circuit from Mulsanne Corner to the Corvette Curves. The circuit was widened on the road connecting Mulsanne to Indianapolis, and again from Indianapolis to the Porsche Curves, although the kerbs remained in their previous locations. The first corner of the Porsche Curves had a larger run-off area on the outside while SAFER barriers had been installed on the inside wall. The Corvette corner also now featured a gravel run-off.[6][7]

Entries[edit]

Automatic invitations[edit]

Automatic entry invitations were earned by teams that won their class in the previous running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, or won championships in other Le Mans-based series such as the United SportsCar Championship, the European Le Mans Series, and the Asian Le Mans Series. Some championship runner-ups were also granted automatic invitations in certain series. All current FIA World Endurance Championship full-season entries also automatically earned invitations. As invitations were granted to teams, they were allowed to change their cars from the previous year to the next, but not allowed to change their category. In the European Le Mans Series, the "Le Mans" Grand Touring Endurance (LMGTE) class champion and runner-up were allowed to choose between the Pro and Am categories, while the GTC class champion was limited solely to an Am entry. The Asian Le Mans Series GTC competitors were also limited to the LMGTE Am class.[8]

The ACO announced its initial list of automatic entries on 15 December 2014.[8]

Reason invited LMP1 LMP2 LMGTE Pro LMGTE Am
1st in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Germany Audi Sport Team Joest United Kingdom Jota Sport Italy AF Corse United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing
1st in the European Le Mans Series France Signatech Alpine Russia SMP Racing
2nd in the European Le Mans Series Italy AF Corse
1st in the European Le Mans Series GTC category Russia SMP Racing
United SportsCar Championship at-large entries United States Wayne Taylor Racing United States Scuderia Corsa
1st in the Asian Le Mans Series France OAK Racing Team Total Taiwan Team AAI
2nd in the Asian Le Mans Series Taiwan Team AAI

Entry list[edit]

In conjunction with the announcement of entries for the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series seasons, the ACO announced the full 56 car entry list for Le Mans, plus seven reserves.[9] In addition to the 35 guaranteed entries from the World Endurance Championship, 13 entries came from the European Le Mans Series, three from the United SportsCar Championship, two from the Asian Le Mans Series, while the rest of the field was filled with one-off entries only competing at Le Mans.[9]

Reserves[edit]

Seven reserves were initially nominated by the ACO, limited to the LMP2 and LMGTE Am categories. Algarve Pro Racing withdrew their reserve LMP2 entry, while Riley Motorsports was promoted from the reserve list when the second SARD-Morand entry withdrew from the World Endurance Championship.[10] Five reserves remained on the list: A second KCMG LMP2, a second Ibañez LMP2, a third Proton Porsche, and the Formula Racing Ferrari and Gulf Racing Porsche.[9]

Testing and practice[edit]

A pre-Le Mans testing day was held at the circuit on 31 May,[11] involving all 56 entries as well as the KCMG Oreca-Nissan, Ibañez Oreca-Nissan, Gulf Racing Porsche, and Formula Racing Ferrari reserve entries. Two LMP3 class Ginetta vehicles and two additional AF Corse Ferrari cars also participated. The two four-hour sessions were held under mixed weather conditions as rain swept through the area several times. Neel Jani set the fastest time in the early session with a three minutes and 21.945 seconds for the No. 18 Porsche,[12] but Hartley improved to a three minutes and 21.061 seconds in the sister No. 17 Porsche.[13] Audi's best time was a three minutes and 22.307 seconds for Marco Bonanomi in the No. 9 car, while Toyota could only muster a three minutes and 25.321 seconds lap.[12] Laurens Vanthoor was the fastest LMP2 driver in the No. 34 OAK Ligier-Honda. Darren Turner's No. 97 Aston Martin was quickest in LMGTE Pro while Pedro Lamy helped Aston Martin also lead in LMGTE Am.[13] The session served as the first appearance for the trio of Nissan GT-R LM Nismo amongst its World Endurance Championship competitors, although the cars were not on pace with the LMP1 field.[13]

Four hours of practice were held for the field on Wednesday afternoon, but again suffered from variable wet conditions throughout. The No. 17 Porsche once again led the session although Webber was the fastest driver to set the three minutes and 21.362 seconds lap time. Audi closed to within half a second with Loïc Duval's three minutes and 21.950 seconds lap.[14] The LMP2 category had only a single car manage a lap under three minutes and 40 seconds when Richard Bardley set a three minutes and 39.897 seconds lap, a full second ahead of the No. 34 OAK Ligier-Honda. The KCMG car had earlier caused the session to be red flagged when the car came to a stop at the first Mulsanne Straight chicane. The Murphy Prototypes Oreca-Nissan later caused a second stoppage when Mark Patterson spun in the Porsche Curves entry and heavily impacted the safety barrier. Patterson was unhurt. The LMGTE Pro category was again led by Aston Martin, Richie Stanaway's No. 99 car setting a three minutes and 55.895 seconds lap, followed by the No. 64 Corvette and the No. 97 Aston Martin. Mathias Lauda kept the No. 98 Aston Martin ahead in LMGTE Am, nearly two seconds ahead of the two Proton Porsche cars.[15]

Qualifying[edit]

The first dry session of the week occurred on Wednesday night in the first of three qualifying sessions. The first timed laps of the session immediately saw the qualifying record for the track, in its current configuration, broken. Bernhard's first timed lap of three minutes and 17.767 seconds in the No. 17 Porsche broke the 2008 record by nearly a second, only to be followed by Jani in the No. 18 Porsche with a three minutes and 16.887 seconds lap time. Neither driver improved their times over the rest of the session, giving the No. 18 Porsche provisional pole position, followed in third by the remaining Porsche 919. The Audi trio followed, with Duval leading the group but nearly three seconds off the pole pace. Toyota's best effort came from Sarrazin in the No. 2 car, nearly two seconds adrift of the Audi's lap times. Nissan's lap times improved to a three minutes and 38.468 seconds, but were over twenty seconds off the pole position time.[16]

The No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R was withdrawn after it was heavily damaged in qualifying.

The fastest LMP2 lap time was also set early in the session, with Richard Bradley recording a three minutes and 38.032 seconds time in the KCMG Oreca-Nissan, nearly a full second ahead of the Greaves Motorsport Gibson-Nissan. The Greaves car, driven by rookie Gaëtan Paletou, later caused the session's only stoppage when it collided with the safety barriers at Mulsanne Corner and had to be towed back to the garage. Aston Martin dominated the LMGTE categories in the first qualifying session, with four of their five entries leading the overall positions in the category. Stanaway set the fastest time of three minutes and 54.928 seconds in the No. 99 car, while Pedro Lamy was the fastest Amateur category entry with a three minutes and 55.102 seconds lap to be second fastest among all LMGTE cars. Gianmaria Bruni's AF Corse Ferrari was third amongst LMGTEs before ACO officials disallowed their fastest lap times for going beyond the track limits, demoting the car down the grid.[17][18] The two remaining LMGTE Pro Aston Martin drivers followed the dual class pole sitters, with Corvette the first car from another marque.[19]

Initial weather forecasts predicted rain for the Thursday qualifying sessions, but it failed to materialise. The teams had two full sessions of clear but hot and humid conditions.[20] Nick Tandy's Porsche led the session with a three minutes and 18.862 seconds lap, but remained in third position on the provisional grid. Audi No. 7 was the only other car to put in an improved lap time amongst the top ten cars. TDS Racing was the fastest LMP2 car in the session with a three minutes and 40.441 seconds yet still over two seconds behind the pole time of KCMG. The LMGTE categories also remained much the same, as Aston Martin still occupied the top four qualifying positions. Twice the session was stopped for heavy accidents, first for the No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari of Duncan Cameron who became stuck in a gravel trap for about fifteen minutes.[21] The second stoppage occurred when Jan Magnussen suffered a mechanical failure in his No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and hit the barriers twice in the Porsche Curves.[22] Repairs to the barriers forced the cancellation of the remainder of the session, although half an hour was added to the final qualifying session.[21] Magnussen was transported to the track's medical centre for a check-up and later released by the race organiser's medical staff. The Corvette was unable to be repaired and the team was forced to withdraw from the race because they did not bring a spare chassis to Le Mans.[22]

Neel Jani secured Porsche's first pole position at Le Mans since 1997.

As temperatures cooled in the final qualifying session, over a third of the field improved their fastest laps, but Jani's pole position time was unchallenged. Audi No. 7 led the session with a three minutes and 20.967 seconds lap time, still over four seconds shy of pole position. Nissan improved all three of their cars during the session, closing to within a second of the closest LMP1 competitor. The No. 26 G-Drive Ligier-Nissan closed to within a second of KCMG to take the second grid position in LMP2, while Greaves remained in third. In LMGTE Pro the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari rebounded from the loss of their qualifying times in the first session to lead the final session and come within a tenth of a second of Aston Martin. The sister AF Corse Ferrari also improved to fourth in the category to split the top of the grid in the class amongst the two manufacturers. The lead in LMGTE Am remained with the No. 98 Aston Martin, a second and a half ahead of the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari. SMP Racing improved their time by leading both of the day's qualifying sessions to take second place on the grid, splitting the Aston Martin cars. The No. 67 AAI Porsche suffered a fire during the session which halted qualifying for nearly half an hour.[23]

Porsche's pole position was their sixth consecutive in the FIA World Endurance Championship, extending back to the 2014 6 Hours of Shanghai. It was also the company's first pole position at Le Mans since 1997.[24]

Qualifying results[edit]

Provisional pole positions in each class are denoted in bold. The fastest time set by each entry is denoted with a grey background.

Pos. Class No. Team Qualifying 1[17] Qualifying 2[25] Qualifying 3[26] Gap Grid[27]
1 LMP1 18 Porsche Team 3:16.887 3:20.974 3.21.119 1
2 LMP1 17 Porsche Team 3:17.767 3:20.980 3:21.065 +0.880 2
3 LMP1 19 Porsche Team 3:19.297 3:18.862 3:22.097 +1.975 3
4 LMP1 8 Audi Sport Team Joest 3:19.866 3:21.681 3:22.678 +2.979 4
5 LMP1 7 Audi Sport Team Joest 3:21.839 3:20.561 3:20.967 +3.674 5
6 LMP1 9 Audi Sport Team Joest 3:21.081 3:22.494 3:20.997 +4.110 6
7 LMP1 2 Toyota Racing 3:23.543 3:26.380 3:23.738 +6.656 7
8 LMP1 1 Toyota Racing 3:23.767 3:25.233 3:24.562 +6.880 8
9 LMP1 12 Rebellion Racing 3:26.874 3:28.745 3:28.053 +9.987 9
10 LMP1 13 Rebellion Racing 3:31.933 3:38.044 3:28.930 +12.043 10
11 LMP1 4 Team ByKolles 3:40.368 3:36.825 3:37.167 +19.938 29[N 1]
12 LMP1 22 Nissan Motorsports 3:41.400 3:42.230 3:36.995 +20.108 30[N 1]
13 LMP1 23 Nissan Motorsports 3:38.468 3:38.954 3:37.291 +20.404 31[N 1]
14 LMP2 47 KCMG 3:38.032 3:40.624 3:39.147 +21.145 11
15 LMP1 21 Nissan Motorsports 3:51.289 3:39.992 3:38.691 +21.804 32[N 1]
16 LMP2 26 G-Drive Racing 3:39.867 3:47.713 3:38.939 +22.052 12
17 LMP2 41 Greaves Motorsport 3:38.958 3:44.123 3:41.722 +22.071 13
18 LMP2 38 Jota Sport 3:39.004 3:45.770 3:40.920 +22.117 14
19 LMP2 36 Signatech Alpine 3:40.438 3:41.477 3:39.699 +22.812 15
20 LMP2 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing 3:39.923 3:40.441 3:39.805 +23.036 16
21 LMP2 34 OAK Racing 3:40.058 3:43.853 3:40.078 +23.171 17
22 LMP2 48 Murphy Prototypes 3:44.513 3:41.827 3:40.690 +23.803 18
23 LMP2 28 G-Drive Racing 3:40.967 3:46.504 3:42.053 +24.080 19
24 LMP2 43 Team SARD Morand 3:42.015 No Time 3:41.250 +24.363 20
25 LMP2 29 Pegasus Racing 3:42.023 3:43.824 3:43.850 +25.136 21
26 LMP2 27 SMP Racing 3:42.077 3:54.065 3:43.729 +25.190 22
27 LMP2 42 Strakka Racing 3:42.237 3:44.704 3:43.750 +25.350 23
28 LMP2 37 SMP Racing 3:42.417 3:52.383 3:43.549 +25.530 24
29 LMP2 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports 3:44.675 3:42.862 3:42.453 +25.566 25
30 LMP2 31 Extreme Speed Motorsports 3:46.165 3:44.631 3:46.585 +27.744 26
31 LMP2 40 Krohn Racing 3:44.899 3:44.854 3:45.491 +27.967 27
32 LMP2 45 Ibañez Racing 3:45.450 No Time 3:48.220 +28.463 33[N 1]
33 LMP2 35 OAK Racing 3:52.843 3:59.244 3:53.995 +35.956 28
34 LMGTE Pro 99 Aston Martin Racing V8 3:54.928 3:59.263 3:57.041 +38.041 34
35 LMGTE Pro 51 AF Corse 3:59.815 3:57.503 3:55.025 +38.138 35
36 LMGTE Am 98 Aston Martin Racing 3:55.102 4:00.110 3:59.081 +38.215 36
37 LMGTE Pro 97 Aston Martin Racing 3:55.466 3:57.447 3:57.219 +38.579 37
38 LMGTE Pro 71 AF Corse 3:57.216 3:58.398 3:55.582 +38.695 54[N 2]
39 LMGTE Pro 95 Aston Martin Racing 3:55.783 3:58.983 3:55.848 +38.896 38
40 LMGTE Pro 63 Corvette Racing-GM 3:55.963 3:59.754 No Time +39.076 WD
41 LMGTE Pro 91 Porsche Team Manthey 3:57.192 3:57.843 3:56.618 +39.731 39
42 LMGTE Am 83 AF Corse 3:56.723 4:03.641 3:57.844 +39.836 40
43 LMGTE Am 72 SMP Racing 3:57.271 3:58.837 3:56.877 +39.990 41
44 LMGTE Pro 92 Porsche Team Manthey 3:57.667 3:58.721 3:56.922 +40.035 42
45 LMGTE Pro 64 Corvette Racing-GM 3:57.081 4:00.025 3:58.689 +40.194 43
46 LMGTE Am 53 Riley Motorsport-TI Auto 3:59.054 4:01.501 3:57.836 +40.949 44
47 LMGTE Am 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing 3:58.822 4:08.157 3:57.842 +40.955 45
48 LMGTE Am 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing 3:58.259 4:02.361 3:58.771 +41.372 46
49 LMGTE Am 55 AF Corse 3:59.091 4:03.765 3:58.433 +41.546 47
50 LMGTE Am 61 AF Corse 4:02.544 4:00.311 3:58.695 +41.808 48
51 LMGTE Am 62 Scuderia Corsa 3:58.946 4:05.332 4:03.162 +42.059 49
52 LMGTE Am 50 Larbre Compétition 3:59.522 4:02.871 3:59.566 +42.635 50
53 LMGTE Am 66 JMW Motorsport 4:00.551 4:03.881 3:59.612 +42.725 51
54 LMGTE Am 96 Aston Martin Racing 4:01.160 4:04.193 4:01.146 +44.259 52
55 LMGTE Am 68 Team AAI 4:03.117 4:02.789 4:01.243 +44.356 55[N 3]
56 LMGTE Am 67 Team AAI 4:04.827 4:05.137 4:01.270 +44.383 53

Race[edit]

The race-winning No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid

The cars took to the circuit on Saturday morning for a 45-minute warm-up session in dry and sunny weather conditions. The No. 9 Audi driven by Filipe Albuquerque set the fastest time with a lap of three minutes and 19.423 seconds. The sister Audi cars of Jarvis and Fässler were second and third overall. Dumas was fourth fastest. His teammate Bernhard was fifth quickest and had the fastest lap before Albuquerque set his time. The fastest LMP2 lap was set by Mitch Evans with a time of three minutes and 39.559 seconds. Stefan Mücke, driving the No. 97 Aston Martin, was the quickest driver in the LMGTE Pro category with the No. 88 Proton Porsche driven by Klaus Bachler the fastest of the LMGTE Am drivers. Gianluca Roda damaged the front-right corner of his No. 50 Larbre Compétition Corvette in a heavy crash at the Porsche Curves.[30]

The conditions on the grid were dry and sunny before the race with an air temperature between 19–22 °C (66–72 °F) and a track temperature ranging from 23–25 °C (73–77 °F).[31] A record-breaking 263,500 people attended the race.[32] The French tricolour was waved at 15:00 Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00),[11] by the executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company Bill Ford to start the race,[33] led by starting pole sitter Jani.[27] Fifty five cars planned to take the start following the withdrawal of the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette,[22] but the No. 23 Nissan missed the opening laps while undergoing repairs to its clutch. Bernhard overtook Jani on the first lap while the trio of Audi cars were able to pass the No. 19 Porsche by the end of the second lap. The top six cars remained within a few seconds of each other as the group pulled away from the Toyota drivers. Duval lost third place to teammate Lotterer after battling with Jani through traffic for second position. The first hour of the race ended with the first retirement as the No. 92 Manthey Porsche began leaking oil and spun at the first chicane of the Mulsanne Straight. Despite resuming driver Patrick Pilet pulled to the side of the track further down the Mulsanne Straight as the engine compartment soon caught fire. The No. 42 Strakka Dome-Nissan of Jonny Kane and Alexandre Imperatori in the No. 13 Rebellion car were caught off guard by Pilet's oil and collided with one another in the chicane, stranding the Rebellion in the gravel trap while the Dome returned to the pit lane for repairs.[34]

The safety cars were deployed to slow the race as marshals worked for twenty-two minutes to dry the spilled oil along the Mulsanne Straight.[35] As the safety cars were recalled, Lotterer in the No. 7 Audi used slower traffic to pass both Porsche drivers in front of him and take over the race lead, just as Nico Hülkenberg moved to fourth place by passing the remaining Audi cars.[36] In the LMP2 category the safety car had split the field up, leaving the TDS Racing and KCMG Oreca-Nissan cars forty seconds ahead of their class rivals. Richard Bradley for KCMG was able to fight with TDS Racing's Tristan Gommendy on the restart and eventually retake the class lead it had lost at the race start.[36] Lotterer was later forced to give up the race lead as a puncture on one of the No. 7's tyres required an extra pit stop, allowing Hartley's No. 17 Porsche to the front of the race. Duval was caught on an approach to a slow zone (which was enforced to allow a marshal to retrieve debris at Indianapolis) by a group of slowed LMGTE cars and took avoiding action by steering right into the grass off track. The No. 8 Audi clipped the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari's right-hand section and was thrown back sideways across the track, impacting the outside barriers head on heavily driving into Indianapolis corner and ripping the car's front bodywork off. Safety cars were required once again as the barriers needed lengthy repairs, while Duval was able to drive the damaged Audi back to the garage. Repairs took less than five minutes and the car resumed in eighth place.[37]

Several cars suffered issues during the second safety car period. Nicki Thiim brought the No. 95 Aston Martin from the LMGTE Pro lead straight to the team's garage with a leaking power steering system,[38] handing the class lead to its sister No. 99 Aston Martin. Christian Ried in the No. 88 Proton Porsche suffered an engine fire in the second Mulsanne Straight chicane, extending the safety car period as it was tended to.[39] KCMG retained their LMP2 class lead ahead of the TDS Racing car while behind the safety car, while the sole Corvette, No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari, and two circulating Aston Martin vehicles were nose to tail in LMGTE Pro, continuing their battle after the safety car period ended. Oliver Gavin's Corvette eventually pulled away from the rest of the LMGTE Pro field.[40] The Riley Viper relinquished its lead in LMGTE Am to the No. 98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana and the SMP Ferrari driven by François Perrodo.[41] As the safety car period ended the No. 17 Porsche of Hartley held the race lead, but Albuquerque was in pursuit in the No. 9 Audi, breaking the Le Mans lap record with a time of three minutes and 17.647 seconds.[42] The No. 9 Audi was able to mount a better challenge to the leading Porsche, and René Rast was able to take the race lead after pit stops.[31]

Nissan's No. 21 entry retired after its front suspension failed and lost the front-left tyre.

During the sixth hour of the race Gary Hirsch lost power in his Greaves Gibson-Nissan through the Esses and came to a halt; the car would later be abandoned after Hirsch was unable to repair a broken battery terminal.[43] The No. 71 Ferrari was forced to the garage to fix starter motor problems, bowing out of its battle with Corvette and Aston Martin in LMGTE Pro.[43] As dusk settled on the circuit, the No. 18 Porsche of Dumas braked too late for Mulsanne Corner and hit a tyre barrier. The car was able to return to the pit lane, only requiring new front bodywork, but the car fell to fifth position. Not long after Paul-Loup Chatin crashed his Signatech Alpine at Mulsanne Corner, bringing the safety cars out for the third time of the race.[44] During this slow period Rob Bell pulled the No. 97 Aston Martin off course and onto the inside run-off area at the Mulsanne Straight and retired.[45] When racing resumed, Hülkenberg was able to attack the leaders, first overtaking Webber's Porsche around the outside on the opening lap then passing Rast when he made a scheduled pit stop. Webber was later given a one-minute stop and go penalty for passing in a yellow flag zone, dropping him to fourth place.[45] Nissan lost one of their three LMP1 entries when Tsugio Matsuda's No. 21 car stopped at Arnage with a suspension failure that caused its front-left wheel to detach from the vehicle and was unable to continue.[46][47] The No. 22 Nissan also suffered a setback when it hit a loose wheel out on the Mulsanne Straight at 299 km/h (186 mph) and required a lengthy repair to its front-end.[47]

As the race approached its halfway point, Lotterer gained on the No. 9 Audi and moved into second place, becoming Audi's lead challenger to Porsche.[48] After leaving the pit lane, Pierre Ragues's No. 43 Morand car billowed smoke because of an oil pressure sensor failure and his vehicle caught fire, causing him to retire at Arnage corner.[49] Several LMGTE cars took the opportunity to change brake discs at this point in the morning, including Fernando Rees in the No. 99 Aston Martin. Returning to the track Rees' car failed to stop in time for the first Mulsanne Straight chicane and hit the rear of the TDS Racing Oreca-Nissan. The Oreca, which had held second place in the LMP2 category, was abandoned in the gravel at the chicane while Rees limped the damaged Aston Martin back to the garage for repairs to its front-left corner. The No. 26 G-Drive Ligier took over second place in LMP2, although still a lap behind the leading KCMG Oreca while the lead in LMGTE Pro was now left to Jordan Taylor's No. 64 Corvette and the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of Bruni on the same lap.[50] In the early morning the No. 7 Audi's hold on second place was relinquished when the right-rear bodywork of the car came apart on the circuit and littered debris at the Porsche Curves, requiring a seven-minute stop for repairs and dropping the car down the race order.[51]

Roald Goethe was caught off guard as Hülkenberg lapped his No. 96 Aston Martin in Corvette Corner, causing Goethe to spin and heavily impact a concrete barrier leaving the turn. Goethe was conscious but needed aid in getting out of the Aston Martin requiring the intervention of a fourth safety car period.[52] He was transported to a local hospital where he remained for several days and underwent surgery to two vertebra which had been fractured in the crash.[53] Oliver Turvey had been the fastest driver in LMP2 at the time, bringing the Jota Gibson-Nissan into third place.[52] The No. 64 Corvette came to the pit lane during the safety car period to change brakes, but was unable to get back out of pit lane in time before the exit was closed, forfeiting the class lead to the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari.[54] When racing resumed Webber was able to attack the No. 9 Audi after driving through traffic and take second position.[55] The No. 42 Strakka Dome pulled off the track on the front stretch with gearbox issues and fluids leaked from his car, requiring a local slow zone. The No. 7 Audi of Lotterer made contact with Tandy's leading Porsche while both cars were in the slow zone, earning Lotterer a drive-through penalty.[56] Viktor Shaitar overran the Indianapolis corner and became stuck in the gravel, losing two laps as it was extracted by recovery vehicles and went into the pit lane but remaining in second place in LMGTE Am.[57]

The No. 9 Audi began to fall off the race pace after multiple visits to the garage for repairs to its hybrid system,[58] but the No. 7 Audi kept fighting as Lotterer reset the fastest lap of the race with a three minutes and 17.476 seconds time.[59] KCMG had an anxious moment when Lapierre missed the Indianapolis corner, but recovered with marshal assistance without losing the LMP2 class lead.[58] The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari slowed on course and came to the garage with gearbox issues, handing the LMGTE Pro lead back to Corvette and allowing the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari to climb to second place after recovering from its earlier issues.[60] Vanthoor drove his car into his pitbox with gearbox problems but his team were unable to repair it before the race's conclusion and retired.[61] Jann Mardenborough's Nissan came to a halt at the Porsche Curves after smoke bellowed out of the front of the car as the gearbox failed, leaving Nissan with a single car left circulating.[62] Light rain began to fall on portions of the circuit in the final hour, but it was not heavy enough to affect the race.[60] Dalla Lana, having led the previous 125 laps in LMGTE Am[63] and within forty five minutes of the race finish, went straight on at the Ford Chicane and crashed heavily into an outside tyre barrier, ending the car's run and promoting the SMP Ferrari to the class lead which it held to the finish. Dalla Lana was unhurt.[64]

The No. 7 Audi finishing the race in third position.

Unhindered in the final hours of the race, Hülkenberg took the chequered flag for the No. 19 Porsche, a lap ahead of Hartley's No. 17 Porsche.[65] Audi, in only their third defeat at Le Mans since 2000,[66] were a further lap behind in third place with the No. 7 car. Toyota, unable to match the pace of Audi and Porsche, were twelve laps behind for a seventh-place finish, while debutants Nissan successfully finished the race with one of their cars, although it failed to complete enough laps for classification.[65] Hülkenberg became the first active Formula One driver to win the event since both Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot achieved the feat in 1991 and was the first rookie since Laurent Aïello in 1998 to clinch overall victory.[67] Tandy became the 32nd British driver to win the event as well as the first Englishman since Guy Smith in 2003,[68] and co-driver Earl Bamber was the third New Zealander after Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon to achieve overall race victory.[69] It was also Porsche's seventeenth overall victory in the 24 hour race.[67] KCMG, unchallenged since the early hours of the race, were victorious in the LMP2 class, while Jota Sport was able to take second place from G-Drive Racing in the final hours.[64] Corvette Racing held their five lap lead in LMGTE Pro, earning Gavin his fifth class victory,[70] while AF Corse completed the class podium with the No. 71 ahead of No. 51. Following the loss of the No. 98 Aston Martin in the final hour, actor Patrick Dempsey's team moved into second place behind the winning SMP Ferrari, while Scuderia Corsa, in their first appearance at Le Mans, finished third.[70] There were 28 outright lead changes during the race; four cars reached the front of the field. The No. 19 Porsche led seven times for a total of 243 laps, more than any other car.[63]

Post-race[edit]

The top three finishers in all four categories appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in a later press conference. Hülkenberg revealed that Porsche's objective was to have one car featured on the podium and was astonished over the team's first and second-place results. He said that he was proud and delighted at his team's achievement: "We had a flawless race with a great pace and we didn't make any mistake. The last lap was a bit weird because it was drizzling and people got nervous in the garage. After the finish line, it is amazing to see thousands and thousands of people cheering up."[67] Bamber stated that the win was "beyond my dreams" and hoped to return to the event in future years with Porsche.[67] Tandy described his success as "surreal":[68] "I can’t think of two better people to share the car with. We haven’t put a wheel wrong all race and we’ve just won the biggest race in the world."[71]

Webber did not believe that his one-minute stop and go penalty prevented him from winning the event, saying he was not fast enough but praised the race victors on their success.[67] Hartley stated it felt special to stand on the Le Mans podium and felt it would be a day that would be looked back in New Zealand motor racing history.[72] Bernhard said that while the overall victory was his dream, he was proud of the Porsche team, and felt it was motor racing at the highest quality.[72] Hülkenberg's success attracted praise from fellow Formula One drivers. During the Thursday pre-race press conference at the Austrian Grand Prix held one week later, Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo thought Hülkenberg's victory made it more possible for Formula One participants to compete in other forms of motor racing and believed that they would receive praise for taking part in such events.[73] Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel said that the driver made the victory "look easy" and it was a positive in improving the reputation of Formula One drivers.[74]

The result meant Lotterer, Tréluyer and Fässler remained the leaders of the Drivers' Championship with 80 points, 20 ahead of second-placed Tandy, who in turn, was a further two in front of his co-drivers Bamber and Hülkenberg in third. Dumas, Jani and Lieb's performance saw them fall from second to fourth place and Bernhard, Hartley and Webber's second-place result allowed them to move into fifth on 53 points.[3] Porsche were the new leaders in the Manufacturers' Championship with 140 points; Audi were 16 points behind their nearest rivals and Toyota maintained third place on 71 points with five races left in the season.[3]

Race result[edit]

The minimum number of laps for classification (70% of the overall winning car's race distance) was 276 laps. Class winners are denoted in bold.[75]

Pos Class No. Team Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps Time/Retired
Engine
1 LMP1 19 Germany Porsche Team New Zealand Earl Bamber
United Kingdom Nick Tandy
Germany Nico Hülkenberg
Porsche 919 Hybrid M 395 24:00:42.784
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
2 LMP1 17 Germany Porsche Team Germany Timo Bernhard
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Australia Mark Webber
Porsche 919 Hybrid M 394 +1 Lap
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
3 LMP1 7 Germany Audi Sport Team Joest Germany André Lotterer
Switzerland Marcel Fässler
France Benoît Tréluyer
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 393 +2 Laps
Audi 4.0 L Turbo Diesel V6
4 LMP1 8 Germany Audi Sport Team Joest France Loïc Duval
Brazil Lucas di Grassi
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 392 +3 Laps
Audi 4.0 L Turbo Diesel V6
5 LMP1 18 Germany Porsche Team Germany Marc Lieb
France Romain Dumas
Switzerland Neel Jani
Porsche 919 Hybrid M 391 +4 Laps
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
6 LMP1 2 Japan Toyota Racing Austria Alexander Wurz
France Stéphane Sarrazin
United Kingdom Mike Conway
Toyota TS040 Hybrid M 387 +8 Laps
Toyota 3.7 L V8
7 LMP1 9 Germany Audi Sport Team Joest Italy Marco Bonanomi
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Germany René Rast
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 387 +8 Laps
Audi 4.0 L Turbo Diesel V6
8 LMP1 1 Japan Toyota Racing United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
Toyota TS040 Hybrid M 386 +9 Laps
Toyota 3.7 L V8
9 LMP2 47 Hong Kong KCMG United Kingdom Matthew Howson
United Kingdom Richard Bradley
France Nicolas Lapierre
Oreca 05 D 358 +37 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
10 LMP2 38 United Kingdom Jota Sport United Kingdom Simon Dolan
United Kingdom Oliver Turvey
New Zealand Mitch Evans
Gibson 015S D 358 +37 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
11 LMP2 26 Russia G-Drive Racing Russia Roman Rusinov
France Julien Canal
United Kingdom Sam Bird
Ligier JS P2 D 358 +37 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
12 LMP2 28 Russia G-Drive Racing Colombia Gustavo Yacamán
Mexico Ricardo González
Brazil Pipo Derani
Ligier JS P2 D 354 +41 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
13 LMP2 48 Republic of Ireland Murphy Prototypes France Nathanaël Berthon
India Karun Chandhok
United States Mark Patterson
Oreca 03R D 347 +48 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
14 LMP2 27 Russia SMP Racing Italy Maurizio Mediani
Russia David Markozov
France Nicolas Minassian
BR Engineering BR01 M 340 +55 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
15 LMP2 31 United States Extreme Speed Motorsports United States Ed Brown
United States Johannes van Overbeek
United States Jon Fogarty
Ligier JS P2 D 339 +56 Laps
Honda HR28TT 2.8 L Turbo V6
16 LMP2 45 San Marino Ibañez Racing France José Ibañez
France Pierre Perret
Italy Ivan Bellarosa
Oreca 03R D 337 +58 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
17 LMGTE
Pro
64 United States Corvette Racing-GM United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
United States Tommy Milner
United States Jordan Taylor
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R M 337 +58 Laps
Chevrolet 5.5 L V8
18 LMP1 13 Switzerland Rebellion Racing Switzerland Alexandre Imperatori
Austria Dominik Kraihamer
Germany Daniel Abt
Rebellion R-One M 336 +59 Laps
AER P60 2.4 L Turbo V6
19 LMP2 29 Germany Pegasus Racing France Léo Roussel
China Ho-Pin Tung
China David Cheng
Morgan LMP2 M 334 +61 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
20 LMGTE
Am
72 Russia SMP Racing Russia Viktor Shaitar
Russia Aleksey Basov
Italy Andrea Bertolini
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 332 +63 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
21 LMGTE
Pro
71 Italy AF Corse Italy Davide Rigon
United Kingdom James Calado
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 332 +63 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
22 LMGTE
Am
77 Germany Dempsey-Proton Racing United States Patrick Dempsey
United States Patrick Long
Germany Marco Seefried
Porsche 911 RSR M 331 +64 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
23 LMP1 12 Switzerland Rebellion Racing France Nicolas Prost
Germany Nick Heidfeld
Switzerland Mathias Beche
Rebellion R-One M 330 +65 Laps
AER P60 2.4 L Turbo V6
24 LMGTE
Am
62 United States Scuderia Corsa United States Bill Sweedler
United States Townsend Bell
United States Jeff Segal
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 330 +65 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
25 LMGTE
Pro
51 Italy AF Corse Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Finland Toni Vilander
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 330 +65 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
26 LMGTE
Am
83 Italy AF Corse France François Perrodo
France Emmanuel Collard
Portugal Rui Águas
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 330 +65 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
27 LMGTE
Pro
95 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Denmark Christoffer Nygaard
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Denmark Marco Sørensen
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 330 +65 Laps
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
28 LMP2 30 United States Extreme Speed Motorsports United States Scott Sharp
United Kingdom Ryan Dalziel
Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
Ligier JS P2 D 329 +66 Laps
Honda HR28TT 2.8 L Turbo V6
29 LMP2 35 France OAK Racing France Jacques Nicolet
France Jean-Marc Merlin
France Erik Maris
Ligier JS P2 D 328 +67 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
30 LMGTE
Pro
91 Germany Porsche Team Manthey Austria Richard Lietz
Denmark Michael Christensen
Germany Jörg Bergmeister
Porsche 911 RSR M 327 +68 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
31 LMGTE
Am
61 Italy AF Corse United States Peter Ashley Mann
Italy Raffaele Giammaria
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 326 +69 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
32 LMP2 40 United States Krohn Racing United States Tracy Krohn
Sweden Niclas Jönsson
Portugal João Barbosa
Ligier JS P2 M 323 +72 Laps
Judd HK 3.6 L V8
33 LMP2 37 Russia SMP Racing Russia Mikhail Aleshin
Russia Kirill Ladygin
Russia Anton Ladygin
BR Engineering BR01 M 322 +73 Laps
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
34 LMGTE
Pro
99 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing V8 Brazil Fernando Rees
United Kingdom Alex MacDowall
New Zealand Richie Stanaway
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 320 +75 Laps
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
35 LMGTE
Am
68 Taiwan Team AAI Taiwan Han-Chen Chen
France Gilles Vannelet
France Mike Parisy
Porsche 911 RSR M 320 +75 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
36 LMGTE
Am
66 United Kingdom JMW Motorsport Poland Kuba Giermaziak
United States Michael Avenatti
Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz al Faisal
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 D 320 +75 Laps
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
37 LMGTE
Am
67 Taiwan Team AAI Taiwan Jun-San Chen
Netherlands Xavier Maassen
United Kingdom Alex Kapadia
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR M 316 +79 Laps
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
NC[N 4] LMGTE
Am
98 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Portugal Pedro Lamy
Austria Mathias Lauda
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 321 Not classified
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
NC[N 5] LMP1 22 Japan Nissan Motorsports United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
United Kingdom Alex Buncombe
Germany Michael Krumm
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo M 242 Not classified
Nissan VRX30A 3.0 L Turbo V6
DNF LMP2 34 France OAK Racing Canada Chris Cumming
France Kévin Estre
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
Ligier JS P2 D 329 Gearbox
Honda HR28TT 2.8 L Turbo V6
DNF LMGTE
Am
53 United States Riley Motorsports-TI Auto Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
United States Ben Keating
United States Marc Miller
Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R M 304 Gearbox
Dodge 8.0 L V10
DNF LMP2 42 United Kingdom Strakka Racing United Kingdom Nick Leventis
United Kingdom Jonny Kane
United Kingdom Danny Watts
Strakka Dome S103 M 264 Gearbox
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
55 Italy AF Corse United Kingdom Duncan Cameron
United Kingdom Alex Mortimer
Republic of Ireland Matt Griffin
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 241 Power
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP1 23 Japan Nissan Motorsports United Kingdom Max Chilton
United Kingdom Jann Mardenborough
France Olivier Pla
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo M 234 Gearbox
Nissan VRX30A 3.0 L Turbo V6
DNF LMP2 46 France Thiriet by TDS Racing France Pierre Thiriet
France Ludovic Badey
France Tristan Gommendy
Oreca 05 D 204 Crash
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
96 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Germany Roald Goethe
United Kingdom Stuart Hall
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 187 Accident
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 43 Switzerland Team SARD Morand France Pierre Ragues
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
Switzerland Zoël Amberg
Morgan LMP2 Evo D 162 Engine
SARD 3.6 L V8
DNF LMP1 21 Japan Nissan Motorsports Japan Tsugio Matsuda
Spain Lucas Ordóñez
Russia Mark Shulzhitskiy
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo M 115 Suspension
Nissan VRX30A 3.0 L Turbo V6
DNF LMP2 36 France Signatech Alpine France Nelson Panciatici
France Paul-Loup Chatin
France Vincent Capillaire
Alpine A450b D 110 Accident
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Pro
97 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing United Kingdom Darren Turner
Germany Stefan Mücke
United Kingdom Rob Bell
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 110 Engine
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
50 France Larbre Compétition Italy Gianluca Roda
Italy Paolo Ruberti
Denmark Kristian Poulsen
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R M 94 Gearbox
Chevrolet 5.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 41 United Kingdom Greaves Motorsport Switzerland Gary Hirsch
United Kingdom Jon Lancaster
France Gaëtan Paletou
Gibson 015S D 71 Power
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
88 Germany Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Germany Christian Ried
Austria Klaus Bachler
United Arab Emirates Khalid Al Qubaisi
Porsche 911 RSR M 44 Fire
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
DNF LMGTE
Pro
92 Germany Porsche Team Manthey France Patrick Pilet
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Germany Wolf Henzler
Porsche 911 RSR M 14 Fire
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
EX[N 6] LMP1 4 Austria Team ByKolles Switzerland Simon Trummer
Germany Pierre Kaffer
Portugal Tiago Monteiro
CLM P1/01 M 260 Disqualified
AER P60 2.4 L Turbo V6
WD[N 7] LMGTE
Pro
63 United States Corvette Racing-GM Denmark Jan Magnussen
Spain Antonio García
Australia Ryan Briscoe
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R M  – Did not start
Chevrolet 5.5 L V8

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e The No. 4 ByKolles CLM-AER, the No. 21, No. 22, and No. 23 Nissans, and the No. 45 Ibañez Oreca-Nissan were all demoted to the back of the LMP grid for failing to achieve lap times within 110% of their respective class pole position time.[28]
  2. ^ The No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari was demoted to the back of the LMGTE grid for failing to achieve lap times within 120% of the overall pole position time with all three of their drivers.[28]
  3. ^ The No. 68 AAI Porsche was demoted to the back of the LMGTE Grid for failing to achieve lap times within 110% of their respective class pole position time with all three drivers.[29]
  4. ^ The No. 98 Aston Martin was not classified for failing to complete the final lap of the race.[75]
  5. ^ The No. 22 Nissan was not classified for failing to complete 70% of the winner's distance.[75]
  6. ^ The No. 4 ByKolles CLM-AER was excluded from the race for not having the correct driver weight ballast. Prior to the exclusion the car was not classified in the race results for failing to complete 70% of the winner's distance.[76]
  7. ^ The No. 63 Corvette withdrew prior to the race due to unrepairable damage caused by a crash in the second qualifying session.[22]

Standings after the race[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for the Drivers' Championship standings.

References[edit]

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