One word can easily sum up this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans: Wow!
In an unusually high attrition rate this year, victory ended up going to the team who now have 19 overall wins at the most famous race on the planet. Whilst one team is searching for answers yet again, as they had the win all but wrapped up once again, only to see mechanical failures prevent them from tasting winning champagne.
But let’s start from the beginning of the weekend:
Toyota had crazy pace this year, obliterating the absolute track record in the process. Remember, that the cars were supposed to have been slowed this year as well; an incredible engineering achievement by Toyota to say the least.
It’s a good thing that both Porsche and Toyota were able to find 2016+ levels of performance because the LMP2 class ended up being so much faster than originally advertised at Le Mans this year. 12s faster than last year, and they were only supposed to be 6s quicker. LMP2’s going 10km/h faster on the straights than LMP1 machinery as well was incredible to watch.
Fast forward to the 8th hour: Porsche #2 had already gone down with front ERS problems and was back on track well down the order, and Toyota #8 suffers a near identical issue. Only that Toyota was in the pits for 30mins longer. Remember that 30mins longer bit.
Fast forward to the 11th hour: Both of the remaining Toyota’s retire with clutch (#7) and severe damage to the rear of the car from a tire puncture (#9). This puts the #1 Porsche into the lead. It is now the only LMP1 car to not have any mechanical issues. The #2 has the pace to get back into 2nd overall and it looks like a Porsche 1-2 at Le Mans.
Fast forward to the 20th hour, and the #1 goes down with terminal engine issues. This results in the #38 LMP2 going to the overall lead, the first time that’s happened ever.
Fast forward to the final hour, when all the way from 50-somethingeth overall, the #2 Porsche takes the overall lead. The pace the LMP1’s had over the LMP2’s was 1 lap per hour. This is an amazing accomplishment for the #2 team, and I don’t think we’ll ever see something like it ever again.
Porsche #2 takes the checkers after the most intense and exciting 24 Hours of Le Mans ever witnessed. 2 LMP2’s fill out the rest of the overall podium, as the #8 Toyota (the only one that finished) got 9th overall, 9 laps down (or 27mins less time in the pits).
My heart goes out to Toyota, as they just couldn’t get the Le Mans win yet again. I was nearly in tears last year when they lost it on the last lap of the race. I have always been a Porsche fan, so it was bittersweet for me last year. However this year, you can’t help but feel terrible for them again. They dominated the field this year, and failed. Toyota will undoubtedly be searching for answers again. They came so close two years in a row. They did everything right, but the car failed them.
I can’t even begin to think how it must have felt when Akio Toyoda gave Dr. Porsche a token of congratulations for winning. I’m sure they will be back next year (assuming there is a next year for LMP1-H, with rumours of Porsches exit) and be even hungrier to get Le Mans Victory.
And of course the cherry on the top of this most spectacular Le Mans, the last laps duel with Corvette and AMR for GTE-Pro victory. This is the first time that the Taylor brothers have lost this year and this one will really sting for Corvette.
I’d normally say, hopefully Le Mans next year is just as exciting, but please or god please….no….my heart can’t take another year of this.
So let’s just say, let’s hope Le Mans next year is just damn good.