98 cars Entered
54 Raced 38 Finished
Qualifying 3:21.789 Toyota
Weather mainly fine but with showers
The the 82nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours race was was expected to be special one as Porsche was to return to the front of the field for the first time in 16 years with its innovative 919 Hybrid. Toyota have been winning big so far this year and of course Audi have won twelve recent 24s.
Behind the LMP1s, one of the most competitive GT fields, with Ferraris, Porsches, Corvettes and Aston Martins, were joined by the Nissan's unconventionally shaped ZEOD RC car/motorbike.
Toyota grabbed pole ahead of Porsche, so the race very open at a sunny Le Mans. As Fernando Alonso waved the tricolour and the race was truly on.
In an action pack first couple of hours No.14 Porsche fell back from the leaders with a fuel system problem requiring a time consuming trip to the pits.
Almost at two hours in a rain shower caused early LMGTE Am leaders, AF Corse, to crash out with driver Sam Bird unable to see a group of slow moving cars ahead on a spray covered Mulsanne Straight. That saw the recent GP2 racer smash his Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 into the back of the number 3 Audi of Marco Bonanomi, forcing both cars to retire - one of the main contenders for an overall win was out.
The Audi wasn't the only LMP1 car involved however, because Toyota's Nicolas Lapierre also slid his way through that pack, smashing into the wall but managing to crawl back to the pits for repairs during the resulting safety car period but his teammate, ex-F1 driver Alex Wurz, was able to maintain his lead through the changing weather conditions, the car that started on pole pulled out a lead.
As darkness fell the number 14 Porsche once again suffered the same fuel system problem, requiring the 919 to make its second trip to the pits for repairs. But the biggest shock of the dark came 15 hours into the race when the leading Toyota driven at the time by ex F1 racer Kazuki Nakajima, suffered a wiring loom failure and retire out on the track.
The number 2 Audi also suffered a recurring turbo issue requiring many visits to the pits for repairs. But action wasn't restricted to the LMP1 class however, because the number 97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE took charge to the leading number 51 Ferrari 458 for GT honours as sun rose on Sunday.
Hopes for Tom Kristensen's tenth Le Mans win were dashed when his number 1 car faced the same problems the number 2 had. This required a lengthy repair in the pits, allowing the number 20 Porsche, driven by Mark Webber, to take the lead and what looked to be the biggest shock of the year. Hopes of the Porsche win were dashed when the engine failed so they retired. The number 2 Audi took the lead driven by Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer, and Andre Lotterer, maintaining it for the final two hours of the race to win overall, the trio's third race win in four years. Following the winning car across the line was the number 1 Audi and the number 8 Toyota.
Taking the LMP2 win was Jota Sport with its Nissan powered Zytek, whilst AF Corse stole the LMGTE Pro win in the number 51 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2. Aston Martin Racing was unable to stick with the Pro winners, but did come home with a win in the LMGTE Am class.
For a change the race was lead by 3 different makes, all had failures but Audi lucked the win.
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