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Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche wins with Hulkenberg, Tandy and Bamber


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Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche wins with Hulkenberg, Tandy and Bamber

Porsche took its first overall victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1998, with Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber leading a one-two.

The #19 919 Hybrid moved to prominence through the night, with stints from Hulkenberg and Tandy hauling it back into contention after it lost some ground during an early safety car period.

Bamber then picked up the mantle in the early hours of the morning, and as Sunday progressed any threat from Audi behind crumbled as all three of its cars required unscheduled pitstops.

All that was left after that was for Porsche to nurse its #19 and #17 home to a one-two finish, including taking care during a light rainshower in the final 10 minutes.

The third-placed #7 Audi, which was in the thick of the lead battle with the #19 Porsche through the night, slipped back when it lost a chunk of its bodywork, and it would later require further unscheduled stops for an oil top up and further checks to the engine cover.

That left the #9 Audi leading the chase of the #19 and #17 Porsches that assumed the top two places, but that car's challenge ended when it spent nearly 20 minutes in the garage to have a front driveshaft changed.

The problems for the other two Audis weren't enough for the #8 car - which was crashed early in the race when Loic Duval tried to avoid a clutch of GT cars approaching a slow one - to get ahead, as it had to make an unscheduled stop of its own for a change of engine cover, losing two minutes.

The #17 Porsche was in the lead fight in the first part of the race, but it fell out of direct contention after Mark Webber was forced to serve a one-minute penalty due to a yellow flag infringement by Brendon Hartley in a previous stint.

The third Porsche - which started on pole courtesy of Neel Jani, dropped down the order when Romain Dumas and Jani both committed the same error in consecutive stints - locking up and gently hitting the tyre wall head-on at Mulsanne corner in the night.

Both incidents required a change of front bodywork, and in the case of Jani the delays were longer because he got the #18 car stuck in the gravel when trying to reverse back onto the track.

The long stop for the #9 Audi on Sunday morning allowed a Toyota into the top six, after the Japanese marque's two cars spent the majority of the race running a distant seventh and eighth.

It was the #2 car of Alex Wurz, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin that capitalised, with the #1 entry too far back after Anthony Davidson damaged the car colliding with traffic and then hitting the wall on Saturday evening.

Further back in the field there was no repeat of Rebellion Racing's fourth-place heroics from 2014, with its cars finishing 18th and 24th overall, both still running at the finish.

The privateer team at least claimed the scalp of Nissan, which persevered with its troublesome radical GT-R LM NISMOs throughout the race, eventually getting the #22 machine to the chequered flag.

That car had been the most competitive in the early hours of the race, but through the night all three Nissans made regular visits to the pit garages.

The #21 car was the first to fall when a suspension failure left it stranded on track, while a gearbox failure forced Jann Mardenborough to stop the #23 entry on Sunday afternoon.

Source and full article: Autosport

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