Photo: Porsche

Porsche survives war of attrition to win 24 Hours of Le Mans

3 Comments

With what looked like its race over, Porsche Team’s No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid lost over an hour early on in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans with a front axle issue and an MGU change.

This is why you never give up in a 24-hour race, though.

As retirements hit the two contending Toyota TS050 Hybrids, and then the sister No. 1 Porsche with just three hours to go despite having a 13-lap lead, the remaining Porsche pushed on.

The No. 2 Porsche persisted, pressed on, and then hunted down the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car to catch and pass the then-overall leader to take the lead with just over an hour remaining.

The trio of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley have captured the overall victory in this year’s June endurance classic in the No. 2 car. It’s Bernhard and Bamber’s second Le Mans overall wins, Hartley’s first, and the 19th overall for Porsche.

A banner day for Jackie Chan DC Racing, however, ended with that No. 38 car taking the LMP2 class win in second overall, with the trio of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent.

The No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca was second (Nelson Piquet Jr., Mathias Beche, David Heinemeier Hansson) with the second Jackie Chan DC Racing car, the No. 37 entry of David Cheng, Tristan Gommendy and Alex Brundle, third in class.

The abnormal day for the LMP1 contenders saw the ByKolles car fall out early, the No. 7 Toyota have clutch issues, the No. 9 Toyota retire a bit later with accident damage, and then the No. 1 Porsche have its loss of oil pressure.

Despite losing time in the garage the No. 8 Toyota rallied to the finish, second in LMP1 and ninth overall, but nine laps back.

In the LMP2 field, reliability was surprisingly barely an issue for the new cars. That meant a strong finish per car was earned on merit as 21 of the 25 starters saw the checkered flag.

Beyond the podium finishers, Signatech Alpine lost out late after Andre Negrao ran wide at Arnage corner, costing a potential podium for the No. 35 Alpine A470 car he shared with Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues. That car ended what was still a respectable fourth in class, fifth overall.

United Autosports was best of those without the Oreca chassis, with the No. 32 Ligier JS P217 of Filipe Albuquerque, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeeler fifth in class, sixth overall. It capped off a great debut weekend in the 24-hour race for the Richard Dean and Zak Brown-led team, having also captured one of the LMP3 Road to Le Mans race wins earlier in the week with Sean Rayhall and John Falb.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS BY CLASS

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”