After 378 laps on the 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours race, last year’s winners Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer were again the winners of the World’s legendary endurance race.
The two Toyota TS030 hybrid LMP1s were competitive from the outset and even took the lead on Saturday evening. But a horrenduous accident – after clashing with a GTE car – sent Anthony Davidson airborne and into the guardrail, the Brit suffering two broken vertebrae as a result. The second Toyota was also involved in a collision and suffered a series of problems as a consequence.
After the early retirements of the Toyotas it was 12 hours of boredom from there on as there was no competition left at the height Audi’s multizillion four-car-operation.
An accident by Allan McNish in the fast Porsche corners less than three hours before the finish caused the preliminary decision. Team Joest managed to repair the heavy damage at the car’s front end in record time and to thus save second place for McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen.
The winning car number 1 was not spared from incidents either. Marcel Fässler touched the track barrier twice on Saturday morning: the first time after spinning at high speed and the second time when he had to evade a GT vehicle that was standing sideways in the Mulsanne corner. Benoît Tréluyer, who was suffering from a severe cold which he had caught on Friday while participating in the drivers’ parade in the rain in the center of Le Mans, spun once at the entrance to the pit lane.
Le Mans rookie Marco Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller completed the podium. The American No.44 Starworks Motorsport HPD ARX 03b entry, driven by 2011 class winner Tom Kimber-Smith with Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio, won the LMP2 class from three Oreca Nissans operated by Thiriet by TDS Racing, Pecom Racing and Signatech Nissan.
The GTE production-led class Ferrari took a dominant victory with P1, P2 and P4 in class, the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia, in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni-Giancarlo Fisichella-Toni Vilander, finishing two laps ahead of the No.59 Luxury Racing Ferrari and the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage.
Pedro Lamy in the No.50 Larbre Competition Corvette demolished the lead of the No.67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Anthony Pons-Raymond Narac -Nicolas Armindo in the final half hour to win the GTE-Am class with team-partners Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser.
A full report will follow in P1Mag-eZine’s issue no.19