Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Porsche 919, Le Mans, 2017

Porsche wins race of attrition at Le Mans

World Endurance Championship.Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Porsche’s Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley fought back to win a thrilling Le Mans 24 Hours which was shaped by a series of retirements among the front runners.

Hot conditions at the Circuit de la Sarthe played havoc with the LMP1 cars including pre-race favourites Toyota. Porsche’s lead car also stopped in the race’s 20th hour which temporarily put one of the LMP2 runners in the lead.

However with just over an hour remaining the number two Porsche of Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard, which had spent an hour in the pits due to repairs early on, moved back into a lead they never lost.

Toyota controlled the early stages of the race but before half-distance all three TS050s had retired or been seriously compromised.

Kamui Kobayashi’s race-leading number seven car was the last to fall following a Safety Car period shortly after midnight. The number eight car of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima was halted by a front motor failure, but later rejoined the race. A crash ended the hopes of the delayed number nine car.

Porsche held a 14-lap lead when Andre Lotterer was told to stop his 919 due to a suspected engine problem. He was unable to return to the pits and retired.

That handed the lead to the number 38 ORECA-Gibson of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent. They stayed ahead until Porsche number two car recovered to take the lead off them. The ORECA held on to finish second overall and win LMP2 class honours. The final place on the overall podium was taken by the LMP2 Rebellion of Nelson Piquet Jnr, Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson.

The GTE Pro class was won in dramatic fashion by Jonathan Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra after their Aston Martin took the lead at the beginning of the final lap. Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor had been on course to win in their Chevrolet Corvette C7.R until Taylor went off late in the race with fading brakes.

The amateur GTE category was won by Will Stevens, Dries Vanthoor, and Robert Smith in a Ferrari 488.

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  • 72 comments on “Porsche wins race of attrition at Le Mans”

    1. Poor Mark Webber…

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        18th June 2017, 14:06

        Why? Did he run out of Ferrero Rocher’s to hand out?

        Epic race. Shame LMP1 field so diminished. GTE was highlight for me.

      2. @eyeszmen As much as I love the man, he wasn’t the best Le Mans driver Porsche had available. He was bloody fast on other tracks in the 919, making others look like absolute amateurs. I guess he carries the same curse as Toyota.

        1. His car won Le Mans, months after he retired…

          1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            18th June 2017, 14:34

            He can’t have wanted it enough.

          2. It’s not his car.

      3. Every single driver to ever race the Porsche 919 has won Le Mans. Except Mark Webber.

        1. @paeschli That not so much says something about Webber as it does about the brilliance of Porsche, if you like.

        2. Maybe he still hasn’t recovered from his stint as a driver for Mercedes at Le Mans.

          I mean, he did kinda flip out…..

      4. Heard over Porsche pit radio: “That’s multi 21, multi 21…”

    2. I don’t understand why they told Lotterer to stop?
      Surely trying to get back to the pits would at least give them a chance to do something, especially with the lead so big at that point. Simply stopping for something mechanical in a 24hr race is giving up far too easily.
      Crazy race!

      1. Ferrari, Seb fan
        18th June 2017, 14:51

        He tried to make it back to the pits, but failed

      2. @eurobrun
        Simply stopping for something mechanical like no oil pressure in the engine… yeh i wonder why they did that. I doubt they would be able to get the car back home, change the entire engine and finish anything but dead last with 3 hours to go. They shut it down trying to save what was savable and then trying to bring it home on electrical power, most likely they all knew it wouldnt be able to get even halfway home but they ran every last inch out of it for good measures.

        1. Alex McFarlane
          18th June 2017, 18:24

          They’re not allowed to change engine during the race anyway.

          1. Thank Audi for that. Changing everything behind the rear fire-wall was a bit too clever.

    3. So effectively the 23 hours of Le Mans ;)

      But what I saw I truly enjoyed.
      I spent a lot more time following the LMP2 and GTE Pro fights which were exciting.

      1. @f1-liners Here’s a challenge then. Let us have a 100 meter race. You however will have to run a full marathon immediately prior.

        I’ll give you £10 cash if you beat me.

        1. Challenge accepted, @psynrg.
          My next marathon is Boston; can you make it?

          PS you then can also explain your reply; I’ve no clue what you’re getting at.

          1. @f1-liners Lol, erm, egg, face, mine. I misunderstood what you said, sorry (for some stupid reason I read that as a waste of 23 hours, may as well be a 1 hour race.)

            Erm, Boston, Lincs or Boston, MA?

            Either way, if you drop by London I owe you a couple of pints!

            1. No worries! @psynrg
              Boston, MA will be my next marathon.

              And as you now understand I really liked the 24h of LM. I was worried at first as there were only 6 LMP1 entries. But in the end I watched many hours. Maybe because a friend/acquaintance of mine participated.

    4. “Porsche held a 14-lap lead when Andre Lotterer was told to stop his 919 due to a suspected engine problem.”
      He had low/no oil pressure so the problem was not as much suspected as it was evident. Correct me if I’m wrong ;)

      1. If the system signals there is no or very low oil pressure it is possible it’s a sensor problem.
        maybe that is the suspected part of it.

      2. @damon ‘Suspected’ in the sense that someone can die of a ‘suspected heart attack’. It doesn’t mean they don’t know the person is dead, just that the cause is uncertain until the post mortem.

    5. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
      18th June 2017, 14:18

      When i heard last year that Audi would quit, i was wondering how le mans would turn out. Oh boy, what a great race. Especially the GT pro (BOP was perfect, regardless how you feel about it). LMP2 was a battle all the way. Too bad Toyota just can’t get a break. Still, the future of LMP1 is very much in Limbo.

      1. Yeah, LMP1 is kinda dead. Just 2 years ago most guys were saying how great LMP1 is compared to F1, more and more constructors taking a chance at P1 category and that F1 should learn from LMP1… and how things changed in just 1 year: Audi retired, Rebellion returned to LMP2, Porsche decided to run just 2 cars (instead of 3) etc etc.

        1. LMP1 is still bloody awesome, but I think it’s suffering from the same sort of power creep that hit many amazing series in the past. Plus nobody saw the VW-gate coming. Not even Audi, since they had the car ready.
          Unless we get new manufacturers, either Porsche and Toyota will continue developing this same models or they’ll quit altoghether. But no brand new P1s for sure. Nissan didn’t do any favours in that matter with their interesting, yet abysmal entry.
          Good thing is that P2s got a lot faster. Made some interesting racing.

          1. @carlitox, even before the “dieselgate” affair, there were rumours that Audi was looking at leaving the series – Dr Ullrich, the head of Audi’s racing division, had been publicly complaining that the ACO wasn’t doing enough to publicise the series, and that lack of publicity meant that the board of VW were increasingly questioning why they were spending so much to compete in a series with rapidly diminishing returns.

    6. nelson piquet
      18th June 2017, 14:20

      toyota should just compete in 10 hour races

    7. No doubt, this race was exciting, but it seriously needs more competition in LMP1!

    8. What does Toyota have to do to win this race?

      1. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
        18th June 2017, 15:02

        Finish first i think.

        1. To Finish first you must first finish.

      2. Buy Audi’s Le Mans car.

      3. Enter shorter races.

    9. Graham (@guitargraham)
      18th June 2017, 14:51

      terrific race. always something going on and the drama was everywhere. aston martin gte result was the icing on the cake. i need a beer!

    10. Ferrari, Seb fan
      18th June 2017, 14:56

      This was my first 24h of Le Mans that I watched on TV and it was pretty good. There was a good few fights across the field. If I have a complaint, it’s that there need to be more cars in LMP1 and that the gaps between the catagorys could be less (3-5 seconds between each group). All on all a great race.

      1. Problem with being so close together is you start having a harder and harder time justifying the investments in the higher classes. Remember when the LMP2 Porsche Spyder won Sebring in I thought Porsche’s first year back in prototypes…

        1. @wushumr2
          Well it cant be any worse justifying the expenses as it is now with only 1 lmp1 on the podium and only 2 teams competing.

        2. @wushumr2, in the case of the Porsche LMP2 car, it is claimed that is because they had a private agreement at the time with the VW Group to not compete directly against Audi in return for receiving support from the VW Group to develop the Porsche Cayenne (which shares the same chassis and some components with VW’s SUVs).

    11. My first Le Mans at the track, no tent, no campsite, no problem. As a kiwi, never more proud, to think that we were all but out after the first four hours. Amazing. Incredible work by the Porsche mechanics, and fantastic effort from Timo, Earl, and Brendon!

    12. Robert McKay
      18th June 2017, 15:39

      The thin LMP1 field was badly exposed, but in a weird way the race was probably the better for it.

      1. Oh yeah, the prospect of a car from a non-premier class winning overall is always exciting. 2008 Sebring and 2015 Petit Le Mans come to mind.

    13. Probably this has been the last time we ‘ll see a Toyota competing at Le Mans in a loooong time. The most ridicolous Le Mans 24 hours race in ages, as always the BoP in GTE Pro was an utter disgrace and someone keep saying this is better than F1, dream on…

      1. Bernie, is that you?

        1. Nope, I wish I have his money though…

          1. BOP is stupid. An 8 year old Aston is slowest others have far faster cars but are dragged down to the slowest cars level. Then it wins. Imagine F1 if you spend to be fastest or have really clever solutions but are dragged down to the lowest level (McLaren). Its daft.

          2. In the lifespan he has left you can spend your current money just as quick.

    14. Shame Negrao threw it down the road to hand Piquet a podium. As for LMP1, will Porsche have any competition next year, I wonder?

    15. Leman is always great. But 5 LMP1 cars?? Really not good… If was F1 some would be saying the cars are too complex, that is too expensive, etc..

      1. Robert McKay
        18th June 2017, 20:14

        Technically there was 6, but the Kolles effort was more like an LMP1.5 i.e. somewhere between the big manufacturers and the LMP2’s. But their race was effectively over right at the start anyway.

    16. Loved the race. This was the first year in awhile that they showed almost all 24 hours on american tv in full HD which was nice. I cant help but be sad because of being a huge Corvette racing fan and losing it at the very last lap they way they did. Good for Aston Martin tho! They needed a big win. I wouldnt want the Fords to win so im still happy with it. LMP1 needs some real work. They should allow more options for teams other then spending a billion on those crazy motors. Are the F1 motors able to be run in WEC? I know there was big talk of that at one point but never heard more about it. It would be cool to see Mercedes back in LMP1 again and get Ferrari back. That would be a blast.

      1. Arad (@just-an-fan)
        18th June 2017, 20:32

        Yes, that would be great! But, I’m afraid this BoP is contagious and would soon finds its way to LMP1 as soon as Ferrari step foot in so they stay out!

        1. @just-an-fan, all of the classes in the WEC are subjected to performance balancing, including the LMP1 class.

      2. @racerdude7730 An f1 engine is not less complicated or cheaper than LMP1

      3. Nice to see Honda in le Mans…

    17. Are the F1 motors able to be run in WEC? I know there was big talk of that at one point but never heard more about it. It would be cool to see Mercedes back in LMP1 again and get Ferrari back.

      @racerdude7730 Even if the engines could run, they would still be deadly expensive and whoever would get them, would have to get a proper chassis built and get a whole team working around them. That’s F1 money. A customer team can’t afford that period and an F1 team can’t afford to do both.

      The problem with LMP1 is that it’s gotten way too technically-intricate and expensive to the point where only works teams with a serious commitment plan can do it.

      It would be a shame to see Porsche and Toyota go and the LMP1 class on a hiatus, but it wouldn’t be a tragedy. The race was great in all the other 3 classes. And if the ACO is looking into a replacement, it should take a look at the P class in IMSA. It’s really LMP2 with a twist but at least it’s exhilarating to watch and it has Mazda, Cadillac and Nissan involved.

    18. After hybrids were a bit exposed in the heat, time for lmp2 to be given 1000bhp aspirated v12 engines. Bet they would lap very close to current lmp1.

      1. How boring. Current formula is exciting and innovative.

    19. I enjoy all forms of Motorsport F1, WEC, MotoGP name the lot but I think I follow F1 more closely, anyway if there would be any crossover it would be , less of the shoulder cam and more of the ‘cockpit’ cam for F1 drivers and yes I know; during the day you probably can’t see their faces but still its something different apart from the shoulder cam , T-Cam or front wing cam they always show. Another thing forget sprint races let’s get F1 24h

    20. Meanwhile over here in New Zealand, you wouldn’t even know about it. At best, its a side bar mention of some websites.

      Although another category, it really shows how through greed and return on investment that F1 has disillusioned so many people from motorsport as a whole. When there is rot at the top, everyone suffers.

      We are a nation of 4.5 million, have produced a WDC, one of the current F1 teams and historical powerhouses was founded by a Kiwi, the only non-American in the the top 5 for USA open wheeler winners and this weekend 2/3 of the overall Le Mans title were Kiwis, but no. one. simply. cares.

    21. Let’s hope Toyota won’t pack up at the end of the year and decide to retire…

    22. What an astonishing race this was. I’ve not watched too much WEC that wasn’t Le Mans before, but I’m 100% tuning in for Nurburgring – I’m totally hooked.

      In the past month I’ve watched the Indy 500, the TT and Le Mans. And each one has simply hammered home further that F1 needs to get its head out of its own rear and start showing some personality. Liberty are making big strides already, but compared to some of the other motorsport I’ve seen this year F1 is sterile, stale, bland, dull, etc etc etc….

    23. Fukobayashi (@offdutyrockstar)
      19th June 2017, 10:17

      Having really got into other race series this year, I have to say there is really something missing from F1 at the moment. Anaesthetised is probably the word I would use but it’s not one single aspect but a combination of them. More noise and more passion amongst the drivers and teams would be a start. It’s part of the reason I wince whenever Hamilton dares speak his mind and the media and forums start crying that one driver has busted out of PR zombie mode.

    24. Was it such a great race? Saying Le Mans was great because the GT Pro’s had such a tense battle is a bit like saying the Whatever F1 Grand Prix was great, because the Sauber drivers had such an epic battle for 17th place.

      When the sideshow (GT) is better than the main event (LMP1), then surely there is something to worry about. Besides, 6 cars is not a serious grid. Would you watch F1 if it had only Mercedes and Ferrari, with a bunch of F2 cars filling out the grid?

      F1 in 2017, with the new tyre and aero regulations backfiring, is not all it can be, surely not as good as the last couple of years, but it still quite easily beats WEC in almost every way.

      1. @Leo B – I tend to agree with You, but the drama’s during the 24 hours of Le Mans has something over it, even if I don’t follow it closely.

      2. Wrong mentality. When Sauber have an ‘epic battle’ for 17th place, they aren’t winning anything. LMP2, GTE Pro, and GTE Am are separate classes. When Aston Martin beat their competitors at Le Mans, they won their race. In endurance events, it just so happens that there are multiple races taking place concurrently. It’s hardly a sideshow–I find the GT classes as, if not more engaging than the prototype classes.

        And yes, I found it to be a great race. But, if you’re one of these people to whom anything but outright ‘1st’ is meaningless, then naturally, you aren’t going to find it particularly inspiring viewing.

    25. Despite being pumped to see Toyota go well and then gutted watching their subsequent failures looking back I don’t feel so bad about the decimation of the LMP1 field as it meant I could really get to grips with the P2 and GT classes. Clearly the heat and the repeated slow zones killed the hybrid systems which won’t happen again but their absence let me see just how good the racing was in the other classes. The GT-Pro was exceptional thinking how close multiple manufacturers ran for so long with Aston having the slightest edge before it looked like the Corvette was going to pip them on a faster tyre strategy before those tyres went off on the penultimate lap!

      I’ve watched bits of Le Mans and kept up to date with the race the past couple of years but this year I had it on the best part of 18hrs and absolutely loved it.

    26. WEC is somewhat epic but the lack of comprehensive timing info drives me bonkers. That’s exacerbated by listening to equally poorly informed commentators speculating on what might or might be happening – ‘lets just wait for a lap or two to find out’.

    27. I could not help thinking that this was a proper motor race. A blended fight among drivers, machines, epic R/D efforts, strategists, in a race where everyone is just going hammer down form the green flag. It reminded me of some of the
      Group C battles from back in the day in the late 80s. I only wish today’s cars were as attractive.

    28. Looks like no one noticed, but Robert Smith won Le Mans ! :D

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