Photo: Guenole Trehorel / ACO
Porsche and Audi ran strong through the night, the #19 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid leading the way with Nick Tandy at the wheel holding a 1-lap lead over Mark Webber in the #17 sister car. The #9 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro driven by René Rast held third. Marcel Fässler’s #7 Audi was running second in the early hours of the morning but lost part of its engine cover, and the place, after having to make a slightly longer stop than normal for repairs.
With 1 hr 40 min left in the race Porsche ran 1-2, the #19 piloted by Earl Bamber 1 lap in front of the #17 with Brendon Hartley behind the wheel. The #7 Audi (Benoit Treluyer) had reclaimed third but was 2 laps behind the second Porsche. KCMG’s #47 Oreca 05-Nissan (Nicolas Lapierre) remained in front in LMP2, 53.580 sec ahead of G-Drive Racing’s #26 Ligier JS P2-Nissan (Sam Bird) which had another 1:00.054 on JOTA Sport’s Gibson 015S-Nissan (Oliver Turvey)
Corvette Racing’s #64 C7.R (Oliver Gavin) led GTE Pro by 5 laps. Aston Martin Racing’s #98 Vantage V8 (Pedro Lamy) led GTE Am by 2.
Nico Hulkenberg took over in the #19 Porsche during a scheduled pit stop. Turvey took second in LMP2 in a light drizzle with 1:25 to go. KCMG made its final stop with 1:16 left. The GTE Pro-leading Corvette made its second-to-the-last 3 min later, taking on fresh tires and getting a general inspection.
The #19 was trying to become the first car to win Le Mans with two rookie drivers (Hulkenberg and Bamber) in several years, with Corvette Racing chasing the first triple crown (Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans) in a long time as well. The GTE Am-leading Aston crashed out with Paul Dalla Lana behind the wheel and 46 min left. The SMP Racing #72 Ferrari 458 Italia assumed the class lead, Viktor Shaytar behind the wheel.
With 25 min to go the Top 3 in LMP1 remained unchanged. KCMG led JOTA Sport and G-Drive in LMP2. Corvette led GTE Pro over the #71 AF Corse Ferrari (Davide Rigon) and its #51 sister car (Gianmaria Bruni). SMP led GTE Am, besting the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR (Marco Seefried) and the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari (Jeff Segal).
At the 18-min mark rain was reported on Zones 12 and 13. The rain coverage spread as the race counted down, but the Top 3 in each class remained unchanged to the finish, Porsche claiming its first overall victory since 1998.
1. #19 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid; Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Nick Tandy (UK)
2. #17 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid; Brendon Hartley (New Zealand), Mark Webber (Australia), Timo Bernard (Germany)
3. #7 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro; Benoit Treluyer (France), Andre Lotterer (Germany), Marcel Fassler (Switzerland)
1. #47 KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan; Richard Bradley (UK), Matthew Howson (UK), Nicolas Lapierre (France)
2. #38 JOTA Sport Gibson 015S-Nissan; Oliver Turvey (UK), Simon Dolan (UK), Mitch Evans (New Zealand)
3. #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan; Sam Bird (UK), Julien Canal (France), Roman Rusinov (Russia)
1. #64 Corvette Racing C7.R; Oliver Gavin (UK), Tommy Milner (US), Jordan Taylor (US)
2. #71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia; Davide Rigon (Italy), James Calado (UK), Olivier Beretta (Monaco)
3. #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia; Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Toni Vilander (Finland)
1. #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia; Viktor Shaytar (Russia), Aleksey Basov (Russia), Andrea Montermini (Italy)
2. #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR; Marco Seefried (Germany), Patrick Dempsey (US), Patrick Long (US)
3. #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia; Jeff Segal (US), Bill Sweedler (US), Townsend Bell (US)