There were no surprises and Toyota won the 89th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours at the hypercars’ debut at La Sarthe, with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez’s #7 car finally crossing the finish line first, breaking the long-running failure. For the Portuguese it was a test of forgetfulness.
Obviously, the Japanese team was stronger than the competition, especially the car No. 7 that did a pure race, and drove the entire race practically, without major technical problems, which showed remarkable reliability of a new car. Alpine and Glickenhaus also had very positive tests, but the Toyotas’ lead on the track was superior and not given a chance. At LMP2, victory fell to WRT, despite the drama of #41 which stalled on the track two minutes before the end. We also saw the misfortune that hurt the Portuguese and drove them out of the battle for victory. At LMGTE Ferrari was the highlight in both Pro and AM.
Rain flooded the race at the start and into the night, with track conditions causing many fears, dismissals and surprises. But despite the many events on these periods of wet track, the rest of the race ran relatively smoothly, with 22 hours and twenty minutes of green flag, four full yellow and four safety cars taking just over an hour and forty of competition.
LMP1 – Toyota wins naturally
The story in LMP1 is relatively simple to narrate, as has been the case in recent releases. Toyota reached Le Mans as the favorite, but it was doubtful whether the GR010 would have enough levels of reliability to embody that favoritism. Toyota #7 started from the turn and never left until the end of the race. With a very strong opening period, Mike Conway opened up a good advantage for the rest of the competition, taking advantage of the misfortunes of others. Toyota #8 (Sebastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima/Brendon Hartley) got a measure of austerity from the #708 Glickenhaus (Louis Felipe Dirani/Frank Mellux/Olivier Plas) on Turn 1, which Sebastien Buemi threw in the tail of the car package. Another string of mishaps for Switzerland held the recovery in the first minutes, but little by little the number 8 was rising in the table, until it settled into second place, in the second hour.
The Alpine Series #36 (Andre Negrau / Nicolas Lapierre / Mathieu Växvier) started in the first laps pressing No. 7, but the rain that fell before the race played several matches and Nicolas Lapierre did not avoid the spin that made him fall into the classification. . Who benefited is Glickenhaus, which settled in third and fourth places. But the race track showed that the new non-hybrid Glickenhaus 007 Lmh made no headway at Toyotas and even in the Alps and they were falling behind in the standings in the first third of the race.
One big surprise was the Alpine’s ability to do 12 laps, just one lap less than Toyotas, which theoretically put the French team in a good position to challenge the Japanese, but the race’s progress showed an unattainable superiority from Toyota, who have always been ahead of the curve.
In the past few hours, the two GR010s had developed fuel pump problems that forced them to take shorter stints, but the victory still looked like it didn’t subside with two laps ahead of the Alpine A480 and five laps for a Glickenhaus #708 that was trying to squeeze in the Alps. Toyota’s advantage was that in the past 10 minutes two Toyotas had stopped in the pits to refuel briefly and waited for the #8 with #7, as they exited together on the photo track. Victory for Toyota #7, followed by Toyota #8 and Alpine #36.
It was a relatively smooth race for Toyota, despite minor issues bothering the two cars. Reliability was very good first for these cars at Le Mans and the quiet way in which they set themselves apart from the competition was proof that the Japanese machine was clearly superior. The Alps seemed to have arguments for challenging the Japanese, and even those in charge seemed confident, with the (undisclosed) stunt allowing more laps on each mission, but it didn’t have a pace to equal the leaders’ tracking and had to settle for a fight for third place, which didn’t It was also very difficult to manage. The Glickenhaus debuted really well at Le Mans, didn’t have many technical issues and even spent less time digging than other Hypercars, but the lack of track pace was glaring and Jim Glickenhaus complained about the somewhat unfair BoP and that’s with applied These values hardly a non-hybrid hypercar has a chance against hybrids. But the first sample of Hypercars was presented without much reason to stand out, with a just and well deserved victory for Toyota in the #7 car that finally broke the slack and won at La Sarthe.
LMP2 – A day not for the Portuguese
If a year ago Le Mans was painted green and red, then this year the Portuguese were not so lucky. Antonio Felix da Costa and Felipe Albuquerque were the favorites to win, but their efforts were dashed and hopes of a good result dashed.
Félix da Costa did a very impressive first job, beating the pace of some Hypercars with the track still wet, managing to run second overall in the first hour. The succession of fast laps caused everyone to grumble, in what was supposed to be one of the Portuguese’s best endurance moments. Felix da Costa did his job, handing the car first in its class, more than a minute before the competition, but Anthony Davidson lost everything with a mistake that threw the car into the gravel box, meaning the ratings faltered. . Despite their 19th place, the team tried to recover, but in the fifth hour of the race an oil spill forced them to stop for more than half an hour, definitely denting #38 JOTA’s chances of fighting for victory.
Felipe Albuquerque started the race in 22nd place for Manchester United, but it wasn’t a very lively start. The Portuguese took a while to start his recovery, but little by little number 22 came closer to the front and after the events of the beginning of the night, he finished third in his class. Everything was going well for the final attack attempt, but the arrival of the morning brought bad news, and a problem with the Portuguese Oreca generator forced him to stop for more than an hour, ending the team’s hopes of retaining the victory.
The fights in LMP2 were tough, but since leaving JOTA #38 it was understood that the WRT cars were on a good pace, despite pressure from #23 from United (Paul di Resta/Alex Lane/Wayne Boyd), with the #26 G- Drive (Roman Rossinov / Franco Colapinto / Nick de Vries) is also nearby. But as night fell, the rains also brought more rain, causing many accidents. One of them was involved in United #23 and #32, in a violent touch between the two cars the same team that knocked #23 out of the fight. G-Drive #26 (Colapinto) also lost control and crashed into #1 to Richard Mille (forced to surrender) becoming another candidate to exit the fight. Gotta #28 (Shawn Galil/Stoffel Vandoorne/Tom Blomqvist) and Banes Racing #65 (Julian Channel/Will Stevens/James Allen) tried to get to the front but cars #31 (Robin Frijns/Ferdinand Habsburg/Charles Millesi) and #41 (Robert Kubica/Louis Delétraz/Yifei Ye) of WRT didn’t take a chance and drove much of the race. But there was drama in the last few minutes and the #41 player who was up front and poised to win Le Mans stuck on the right track gave the win to 31st, followed by #28 by JOTA and #65 by Panis Racing. Antonio Felix da Costa finished the race 8th in his class and Felipe Albuquerque had to finish 18th.
LMGTE Pro – Nobody stopped Ferrari
Also in LMGTE Pro, luck did not smile at the Portuguese colors. Alvaro Parenti in his #72 Porsche couldn’t see the checkered flag, as HubAuto’s Porsche surrendered in the morning. The team knew it was going to be a complex race, without being able to find the perfect spot, with a very tense car in the turns and little top speed. Despite the brilliant pole that Dries Vanthoor conquered, it would be difficult to get a good result and the car was always in the last positions of its class until it gave up.
In the first positions in this class, Ferrari stood out and in the early hours the Ferrari #51 (Alessandro Pierre Guede / James Calado / Com Lidogar) and #52 (Daniel Serra / Miguel Molina / Sam Bird) was always ahead. Racing despite pressure from the #63 Corvette (Antonio Garcia / Jordan Taylor / Nikki Katsburg). It didn’t seem like Porsche had enough speed to fight the Italian machines and had to see the fight between Ferrari and Corvette from a distance. In the fifteenth hour of the race the #52 Ferrari suffered a left rear suspension failure, forcing them to stop for half an hour which knocked them out of the fray. Ferrari #51 continued to advance and despite pressure of #63 with Porsches #92 (Kevin Estre / Neel Jani / Michael Christensen) and #91 (Gianmaria Bruni / Richard Lietz / Frederic Makowiecki) jostling for last place on the podium, with an advantage of #92 With practically perfect racing, Ferrari #51 won the race in its class, with the #63 Corvette, the C8.R’s first podium finish on its Le Mans debut, and the #92 Porsche taking third on the podium.
LMGTE AM – Portuguese on the platform
The Ferraris’ strength was evident in the early hours of the AM as well. Despite first place by Porsche Dempsey Proton #88 (Julian Andlauer / Dominic Bastien / Lance Arnold), Ferrari #83 quickly took the lead from AF Corse (François Perrodo / Niklas Nielsen / Alessio Rovera), sharing driving expenses with Aston Martin # 33 of TF Sport (Ben Keating / Dylan Pereira / Felipe Fraga), with Aston Martin #98 (Paul Dalla Lana / Nicki Thiim / Marcos Gomes) of Aston Martin Racing, #47 of Cetilar (Roberto Lacorte / Giorgio Sernagioto / Antonio Foco) ) and Iron Linux #80 (Matteo Crissoni / Renault Mastronardi / P. Callum Ilot).
#98 finished the race early with a violent crash which sent one of the four safety car periods out of the race. Despite several changes to the lead, this battle left #83 and #33 in the final showdown, with an advantage for Ferrari #83. The fight continued until the end of the race, but AF Corse’s Ferrari win, followed by Aston Martin #33 with Dylan Pereira, Luso -Luxembourg who had a great race, is on the podium and Ferrari finished third. #80 from Iron Lynx.
Another feature is the Oreca #84 (Takuma Aoki / Nigel Bailly / Matthieu Lahaye), the car that raced by invitation, with a car adapted for two drivers with reduced mobility, which finished the race in honorable 32nd place.
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