All the latest sports car news at
12 AUGUST 2017
In a Le Mans 24 Hours where no lead seemed safe, a charge from the back nets Porsche its 19th win
To finish first, first you must finish...but
can you accomplish both after you spot
your rivals an hour’s head start? At the
85th 24 Hours of Le Mans anyway, the
answer was yes.
The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by
Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon
Hartley lost 65 minutes in the fourth hour,
when a front axle problem led the team to
replace the front suspension and electric
motor. The delay – and the clear speed
advantage of Toyota’s TS-050 HYBRID
– ended their chances.
Or at least, it should have. In one of the
hottest Le Mans races in memory, the new
generation of LMP1 prototypes faced a
particularly stiff endurance challenge, and
none of them were able to avoid trouble.
Toyota was sporting in defeat, company
boss Akio Toyoda conceding of its hybrid
tech that “it might be that it is not yet ready
for the long distance” of Le Mans. However,
he vowed the team would return in 2018.
TO FINISH FIRST...
As dusk descended
on the Circuit de la
Sarthe, Toyota was
looking serene and
in control. That
would all change...
“It’s so magical to get the win in that
circumstance. I mean, that’s purely
what endurance racing’s all about”
The No. 7 Toyota traded the lead with
its No. 9 stablemate until, in a bizarre half
hour before midnight, both front-running
Toyotas were eliminated. First, Kamui
Kobayashi torched the No. 7’s clutch when
he was obliged to make two starts with the
combustion engine in quick succession,
after being instructed to stop to let a
safety car go by. Then an even weirder
incident KO’d the No. 9 machine: A fuel cut
in the Dunlop Curves resulted in a collision
and a deflating tire, which did terminal
damage as it disintegrated.
The Toyota curse... For the second year in a row Toyota
mechanics could only watch in disbelief as their cars’
dominant 24 Hours of Le Mans lead evaporated again.