Porsche has clinched its first outright win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1998 with the no. 19 car of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg following an enthralling fight with Audi at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The no. 19 car took control of the race at the halfway point in the race following a string of dominant stints by Tandy behind the wheel of the 919 Hybrid, with both Hulkenberg and Bamber also produced impressive displays.
As the no. 17 Porsche of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley dropped back after a penalty and the front-running no. 7 and no. 9 Audis failed to keep up with the pace at the front, the no. 19 car established a comfortable lead in the closing hours of the race.
The honor fell to Nico Hulkenberg to cross the line and complete the race for Porsche, making him the first active F1 driver in 24 years to win Le Mans. He and Earl Bamber became the first rookies to win the race outright since 1998 when Laurent Aiello was victorious with Porsche.
Porsche completed a one-two finish by getting the no. 17 car across the line in second place, whilst the no. 7 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler completed the podium for Audi.
In LMP2, KCMG claimed a dominant victory with its no. 47 car, leading for the entire 24 hours bar a few laps at the very beginning of the race. Despite suffering two stoppages on track, a broken LED light and a stop/go penalty, the Hong Kong-based team managed to clinch the victory ahead of the no. 38 Jota Sport car and the no. 26 G-Drive Racing runner.
GTE Pro was a closely fought affair in the early stages between Corvette, Aston Martin Racing, AF Corse and Porsche, but eventually boiled down to a battle between the no. 64 Corvette and the no. 51 AF Corse Ferrari in the final few hours.
However, a problem on the no. 51 car allowed Corvette’s trio of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor to win the class with relative ease. AF Corse rounded out the podium with the no. 71 car in second and the recovering no. 51 in third.
The climax of the GTE Am race was a dramatic one, as Aston Martin Racing saw its hopes of a class victory be spurned away due to a late accident. The no. 98 car had a sizeable lead over SMP Racing’s no. 52 in the final hour, only for Paul Dalla Lana to crash out at the Ford Chicane and ruin the front end of the car.
As a result, SMP claimed its first win at Le Mans, with Patrick Dempsey’s no. 77 car finishing second in class ahead of the Scuderia Corsa no. 62 in third place.
The top honors lay with Porsche, though, and marked another milestone in the German marque’s LMP1 mission. After returning in 2014 and claiming its first FIA World Endurance Championship victory, Porsche has now won the biggest event of them all at Le Mans, and will now be setting its sights on a full WEC title victory at the end of the season.