It appeared as though Toyota was about to win the 83rd running of the 24 hours of Le Mans, but it wasn’t to be.
With just three minutes left in the race, the number five Toyota TS050, which held a 50-second lead over second place o, lost power on the Mulsanne straight and came to a halt. Exactly what broke in the Toyota is still under investigation, with one rumor saying it could be turbo failure. Whatever it was, it led to a heartbreaking loss for Toyota and an unexpected win for Porsche. Toyota’s second TS050 race car placed in second, while Audi claimed the third and fourth positions.
“First of all I would like to express my respect for the sensational performance which Toyota gave in this race. It was a great fight with them,”said Fritz Enzinger, VP of Porsche’s LMP1 team. “Shortly before the finish we had settled for second place until we suddenly claimed our second Le Mans victory in a row. I would like to thank our great team in Weissach, our team here in Le Mans and all Porsche employees and fans which have supported us here.”
Ford got what it wanted from Le Mans this year: a win in the GTE-Pro class with its new GT, 50 years after the original Ford GT won at Le Mans. The number 68 Ford GT won the class with a 10.2 second lead over the number 82 Risi Competitzione Ferrari 488 GTE, the only car that was really able to keep up. The Corvettes, Aston Martins and Porsches just didn’t have the power to challenge these two dominant teams.
But before the racing even began, there were cries of sandbagging, as both the Ford GTs and Ferraris hadn’t shown their true pace until qualifying. To try and even the field just a day before the race began, the Ford GTs had 10 kilograms added and were forced to turn down turbo boost pressure while the Ferraris also added 15 kilograms of ballast. On the flip side, the Corvette and Aston Martin got a slightly larger air restrictor size, allowing them to run a little faster. But the modifications didn’t matter, as Ford and Ferrari still quickly ran away from the pack.
After the race, the winning Ford GT was hit with a 50-second penalty for going too fast in a slow zone, where the track speed has been reduced because of an incident, and with a 20-second penalty for faulty wheel sensors. That likely would have allowed the Ferrari to win, but it got a 20-second penalty of its own for ignoring instruction to pit to fix a broken display panel on the car.
The Pro-Am LMP2 class win went to the number 36 Signatech Alpine A460 Nissan, while the US-based Scuderia Corsa team of Townsend Bell claimed victory in the GT-Am class.
The garage 56 entry, which is always a car that is designed to somehow demonstrate future racing technology, was driven by quadruple amputee Frédéric Sausset along with teammates Jean Bernard Bouvet and Christophe Tinseau. The team completed the race and was a big fan favorite.