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

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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

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.