Toyota was moments away from rewriting the 24 Hours of Le Mans history books today before an engine failure hit the leading #5 TS050 Hybrid with only 3 minutes left. They would have become the second Japanese manufacturer to win the race, following Mazda’s victory in 1991.
The #2 Porsche which was second at the moment thus assumed the lead, and eventually claimed a thrilling victory, second in a row for the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Toyota still managed to claim one podium spot, scoring P2 with the #6 car. The #5 car was not classified as it failed to make it to the chequered flag in time. Audi thus scored P3 with the #8 R18 car, and P4 with the troubled #7 car.
24 Hours of Le Mans 2016 Results
P1: #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid
P2: #6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid
P3: #8 Audi R18
P1: #36 Signatech Alpine
P2: #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-05
P3: #37 SMP-Racing
P1: #68 Ford GT – Chip Ganassi
P2: #82 Ferrari 488 GTB – Risi Competizione
P3: #69 Ford GT – Chip Ganassi
P1: #62 Scuderia Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
P2: #83 AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
P3: #88 Abu Dhabi Racing Porsche 911 RSR
Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016 for the second year in a row – the #2 car flashed across the finish line first following the incident with the leading #5 Toyota which lost power some 3 minutes to the end. The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid spent some two hours in the garage during the night session, and eventually lost ground for a podium contention.
Same can be said about the Audis, as the #7 Audi R18 e-tron car stayed in the garage in the early session of the race yesterday with a turbocharger problem and lost seven laps in the process. The team managed to come back up, before claiming P5 behind the #8 sister car.
Ford is the other happy team in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, they came to celebrate their 1966 1-2-3 victory where three Ford GT40s swept the full podium. For this year, a total of four Ford GTs were in play, and two of them finished on the podium. The #68 Ford GT claimed P1 in the LMGTE-Pro class, leading Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE and the #69 Ford GT in third.
Ferrari has not gone home empty handed despite key retirements from the AF Corse team. The #62 Ferrari 458 Italia of Scuderia Corsa claimed P1 in LMGTE-Am class leading the #83 AF Corse Ferrari and the #88 Abu Dhabi Porsche 911 RSR.
[Photos by Rajan Jangda]
The race was flagged off by Brad Pitt, and started under the safety car due to heavy rains. The safety car would stay for a whole 53 minutes before exiting, it was the first 24 Hours of Le Mans to start with a safety car.
Toyota did not waste time as the #6 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi claimed an early lead, and after six hours of racing, the team had already set the fastest time of the race with a 3:21.445 lap from Kobayashi. The #1 and #2 Porsche 919 Hybrids were close behind in 2nd and 3rd behind the Toyota, while the second Toyota lay in fourth.
Audi hit early trouble with the #7 R18, which suffered a turbo issue forcing it to remain in the garage for seven laps. Meanwhile, Rebellion Racing led the LMP1 privateer teams after the sixth hour mark with the #13 car in P6. The other Rebellion car suffered an engine misfire in the first quarter.
Ford was the team to beat in the LMGTE-Pro class after six hours, they held a 1-2 lead with the #68 and #69 Ford GTs. Risi Competizione #82 Ferrari 488 GTE was the closest rival to the Fords in third. Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi Proton Racing were the early leaders in AM class, with the #88 Porsche 911 RSR.
After 12 hours of racing, Toyota was still unbeatable, as the #6 car held the lead firmly over the #2 Porsche 919 and the #5 Toyota sister car. Trouble hit the #1 Porsche of Webber when their car began to overheat, they spent two hours in the garage ultimately losing 38 laps in the process.
Manor had led the LMP2 class in the first quarter but Signatech Alpine Oreca-Nissan had taken over this category after 12 hours. G-Drive Racing were the closest rivals to the Alpine in their #26 Oreca-05 car.
Ford had consequently lost the upper hand in the LMGTE-Pro class, when Risi Ferrari 488 GTE overtook both cars for P1 in this class. It was also in this session that the #91 Porsche Motorsport 911 RSR retired following an engine fire. In the Am class, the #88 Abu Dhabi Porsche 911 RSR still held the lead over the now quicker #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.
After 18 hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016, Toyota had proven it had what it takes to win the big race. The #5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid had now overtaken the #6 sister car after Buemi took over. At one time the two cars held a 1-2 lead before the #2 Porsche came in between them. The #1 Porsche had managed to get back on the track but no where near the top LMP1 leaders. Audi meanwhile was now in fourth and fifth albeit some laps down from the leaders.
Several cars retired during this quarter, including Rebellion Racing’s #13 car which had held the lead in the Privateer class, leaving the #12 car as the only runner. Both AF Corse Ferrari cars, #51 and #71 retired too, one with overheating issues and another with wheel rim failure. Both Porsche Team Manthey cars also retired, one with engine issues and the other with suspension failure.
In the meantime, the Risi Ferrari 488 GTE continued to lead the two Ford GTs, #68 and #69 in the LMGTE-Pro class.
Scuderia Corsa also took over the AM class leadership with the #62 Ferrari 458, followed by Abu Dhabi Porsche and the AF Corse Ferrari 458.