The 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Super Finale of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship attracted a crowd of 252,500 this weekend.
Toyota takes first and second place in the LMP1 class in a race that kept spectators on tenterhooks right to the end
Toyota knows better than any team that you can never before sure of anything at Le Mans. There was last minute drama in the Toyota Gazoo Racing camp again this year, when the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid lost the lead to the #8 sister car after a puncture. Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso form the winning crew. Toyota is the first Japanese manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice. A third win in 2020 would give them the right to keep the trophy!
It was a tough race for everyone. We fought hard with my teammates. We know the race was decided by something else and it was nothing to do with our performance. We’ve experienced that kind of thing in the past as well. I don’t know what to say… Our goal was to win the world championship, and we did it. I’m proud, not only for myself but for the whole crew.
Amazing, and this one was really unexpected! We didn’t have the pace for 24 hours. We weren’t as fast as car #7 and we didn’t deserve to win on track but luck was a big factor. What can you do in that case? I experienced that kind of moment myself with McLaren fighting for the world championship in 2007, with Ferrari in 2011 and 2012, when you get to the last minute and you’re not able to complete the job. The race or whatever chose us to win it. Our main goal was to be world champions. Last year was hard because I committed to both Formula One and WEC, to fight for another world championship, and today is the day that we took it. This WEC programme is not for next year, because it’s hard to commit now for next month and the next season. I want to leave things a bit more open. I will definitely come back for some WEC races and Le Mans because I love this race.
It was a difficult race, somehow, because we entered the race knowing that we could lose the championship. I drove the entire race thinking, « Let’s see if we have the pace to fight with car #7 and after five laps I realised it was going to be nearly impossible. Somehow in the race, we got better but they were the quickest over the whole race. I was really happy to finish second because over the year, they deserved more wins than they had. What happened today is really hard and I remember in 2016 with Kazuki, it was really hard too. But that’s motorsport, of course, and I will take the win, but I’m sorry for them.
1 – #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Toyota Gazoo Racing – Sébastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima/Fernando Alonso
2 – #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Toyota Gazoo Racing – Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose-Maria Lopez
3 – #11 BR Engineering BR1, SMP Racing – Mikhail Aleshin/Stoffel Vandoorne/Vitaly Petrov
Battle raged in LMP2 between TDS Racing, G-Drive and Signatech Alpine and the latter triumphed.
The safety car intervened between the n°26 and n°36 Alpine A470 costing Les Bleus a minute in the first intervention, then precious seconds in the second safety car period.
Relegated to two and a half minutes from the leaders, Pierre Thiriet completed his triple-stint before letting André Negrão and Nicolas Lapierre go on the attack before dawn. While they made up a minute in the early hours of Sunday morning, their efforts were annihilated by the accident of the n°31 Dragonspeed, which brought the safety car out yet again.
From then on, the trio continued to set competitive times while managing their lead and equipment.
After the last stint of André Negrão, Pierre Thiriet went back out to reach his minimum time in the car before Nicolas Lapierre got back in to finish the race.
In his final race with Alpine, Nico took the chequered flag to take his third win at Le Mans in four participations with the French brand.
This victory is also the third for Signatech Alpine Matmut at Le Mans, following its successes in 2016 and 2018, and the fifth podium in the LMP2 category since 2014. And this triumph ahead of the n°38 Jackie Chan DC Racing sees Alpine score its second LMP2 title in the FIA World Endurance Championship, following its 2016 crown
1 – Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 Alpine A470 – Nicolas Lapierre / André Négrao / Pierre Thiriet
2 – Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 Oreca 07 – Gabriel Aubry / Stéphane Richelmi / Ho-Pin Tung
3 – TDS Racing #28 Oreca 07 – Loïc Duval / François Perrodo / Matthieu Vaxivière
Ferrari triumphs in this class, after a hard-fought battle.
Ferrari has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the 36th time. The win was taken by the AF Corse 488 GTE, no. 51, driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra. The victory is the 27th class win for the Prancing Horse, in addition to nine overall wins, the first one clinched 70 years ago courtesy of Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon in the 166 MM bodied by Touring.
This marks the first victory in the GTE-Pro class for the 488 GTE in Le Mans, as indeed it is for all the three drivers involved. For Alessandro and James this rounds off the Super Season in the best possible manner. The last Ferrari and AF Corse team triumph was in the 2014 season, when it was Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni who took the honours.
Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki in the ca. 510 hp No. 91 nine-eleven with second place for Porsche . Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy from Great Britain yielded a double podium result for the Porsche GT Team, clinching third in the number 93 car.
Disappointment for Aston Martin Racing after the pole position #95 Vantage GTE was less fortunate during the night with Sørensen involved in an incident at Indianapolis. Despite a 40G side-impact, the Dane was able to walk away, giving testimony to the hard work and preparation of the car by the team’s engineers and mechanics to ensure the safety of the drivers.
In an eight-race ‘Super-Season’ incorporating two rounds of the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and a brace of 24-hour races in the world-famous French classic, Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage GTE has delivered no less than 15 race finishes from a possible 16, two pole positions and crucially, two GTE Pro victories in its maiden campaign.
1 – AF Corse #51 Ferrari 488 GTE – James Calado / Alessandro Pier Guidi / Daniel Serra
2 – Porsche GT Team #91 Porsche 911 RSR – Gianmaria Bruni / Richard Lietz / Frédéric Makowiecki
3 – Porsche GT Team #93 Porsche 911 RSR – Earl Bamber / Patrick Pilet / Nick Tandy
In LMGTE Am, the Keating Motorsports #85 Ford GT crewed by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga won the class while second-placed Team Project 1 go home with the championship trophy.
1 – #85 Ford GT – Keating Motorsports – Jeroen Bleekemolen / Ben Keating / Felipe Fraga
2 – #56 Porsche 911 RSR – Team Project 1 – Jörg Bergmeister / Patrick Lindsey / Egidio Perfetti
3 – #84 Ferrari 488 GTE – JMW Motorsport – Jeffrey Segal / Rodrigo Baptista / Wei Lu
See you in 2020 for 88th edition 24h Le Mans