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Porsche goes from pole to podium at Le Mans
publication date: Jul 14, 2016
author/source: Glen Smale
The number 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas/Neel Jani/Marc Lieb was on pole at Le Mans this year, and 24-hours later it took the chequered flag to win the race.
But to say that the number 2 Porsche led from flag-to-flag would be to leave out 24-hour’s worth of the most nail-biting, nose-to-tail racing you could imagine, with one of the most dramatic finishes in years.
Starting behind the safety car following torrential rain at Le Mans, the number 1 and 2 Porsches led the way but the two Toyotas soon showed their pace, moving ahead of the German car.
Throughout the early part of the race, through the night and on into Sunday, the number 2 Porsche traded places with the number 5 and 6 Toyotas, but on balance, the number 5 car seemed to have the upper hand.
As the clock ticked towards the 15h00 finish on Sunday afternoon, the number 5 Toyota slowed noticeably on the penultimate lap, and then crawled to a stop just over the start/finish line.
Collectively, the photographers lined up along the wall opposite, and no doubt most people in the stands and in the pit lane, all willed the Toyota to get going again as the clock had not yet reached 15h00, which meant that one more lap still had to be completed.
Coming up behind the stricken Toyota was the number 2 Porsche, and as the then second-placed Porsche came into sight, the Toyota pulled away, but it was the number 2 Porsche that took the chequered flag.
Most were still unsure of what had occurred but it transpired that the Toyota had lost power through a failed airline, and so the Japanese manufacturer will have to return to Le Mans in 2017 and try once again to lift the most coveted trophy in motor racing for the first time.
In the other classes, the French number 36 Signatech Alpine car was the popular winner in the LMP2 class.
The number 68 Ford GT was the winner of the GTE PRO class in what was billed as a revival of the Ferrari v Ford wars of the 1960s. The number 82 Ferrari was second with the number 69 Ford GT in third place.
In the GTE AM class, it was the number 62 and 83 Ferrari 458s that dominated the podium, with the #88 Porsche 911 RSR finishing in third place.
The date for the 2017 Le Mans 24-Hour race is 17 & 18 June and I can barely wait.