Porsche Racing took its first Le Mans 24 Hours victory since 1998 with Nico Hülkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber securing a one-two finish. Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard finished a lap behind in second position in the #17 Porsche.

LMP1: Porsche secures 17th Le Mans 24 Hours victory

After a slow start, the #19 Porsche was forced to battle to keep third position from the aggressive Audi trio behind. It took Hülkenberg a few laps to settle in before he delivered a strong opening stint. The two Toyota cars #1 and #2, who were over five seconds off the pace during qualifying, were dropped from the lead LMP1 cars almost immediately.

After a safety car period had caused the #19 Porsche to lose ground to the lead #18 Porsche, Hülkenberg’s second stint and a solid drive from Tandy brought the 919 Hybrid back into contention for the lead. The #17 Porsche held the lead for the first part of the race after disposing of the pole-sitting #18 Porsche driven by Neel Jani. However, during one of Webber’s stints he was forced to serve a one-minute penalty due to a yellow flag infringement by Hartley in a previous stint.

For Webber, it was yet another bittersweet outcome in the Australian’s so-far checkered history at La Sarthe. This time it was just plain bad luck that conspired to deny the former Grand Prix winner a maiden Le Mans triumph, with Hartley’s mistake proving the difference in an otherwise faultless run for the #19 919 Hybrid.

The #18 Porsche also fell out of contention for the lead of the race after both Romain Dumas and Jani found themselves locking up at the Mulsanne corner during the night and veering off the track and hitting the tyre wall. Neither of the drivers did much damage to the car, however, most of their time was lost as Jani got the #18 car stuck in the gravel trying to reverse out.

Audi’s Le Mans dominance came to an end, but it wasn’t just because the failure to win. All three of their cars experienced unscheduled pitstops due to reliability problems and on-track accidents.

Loïc Duval attempted to pass GTE cars that were three abreast heading towards the Michelin Chicane when he went wide to avoid one of the cars and spun after his tyre dropped into the grass track edging. This caused the #8 Audi to plunge into the Armco barriers and bring out the safety car for 45 minutes.

The #7 Audi, which was running in third place at the time, was in a battle with the #19 Porsche during the night when a large chunk of its bodywork fell off. This ruined their chance of winning as it required the #7 car to make unscheduled stops to top up oil as well to secure the engine cover. André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer had to settle for third position.

The #9 Audi was the last Audi left with a realistic chance of challenging the #19 and #17 Porsches, until misfortune struck them as well when they were forced to have their front driveshaft changed, costing them almost 20 minutes.

This allowed the #2 Toyota of Alex Wurz, Mike Conway and Stéphane Sarrazin to slip into the top 6, while the sister #1 entry of Anthony Davison, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima ended the race a lap behind.

Three GT-R LM NISMOs entered the race, although only the #22 car driven by Harry Ticknell, Michael Krumm and Alex Buncombe managed to cross the finish line, albeit emerging in the final half-hour after a lengthy stint in the pits. The #21 car was the first to retire from the race after a suspension failure left it on track, while the #23 car experienced a gearbox failure on Sunday afternoon.

2015 24 Hours of Le Mans – LMP1 Class Final Classification
Class Ovrl No Team / Entry Drivers Laps
1. 1. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid E. Bamber / N. Tandy / N. Hülkenberg 395
2. 2. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid T. Bernhard / B. Hartley / M. Webber 394
3. 3. 7 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro A. Lotterer / M. Fässler / B. Tréluyer 393
4. 4. 8 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro L. Duval / L. di Grassi / O. Jarvis 392
5. 5. 18 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid M. Lieb / R. Dumas / N. Jani 391
6. 6. 2 Toyota TS040 Hybrid A. Wurz / S. Sarrazin / M. Conway 387
7. 7. 9 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro M. Bonanomi / F. Albuquerque / R. Rast 387
8. 8. 1 Toyota TS040 Hybrid A. Davidson / S. Buemi / K. Nakajima 386
9. 18. 13 Rebellion Racing AER A. Imperatori / D. Kraihamer / D. Abt 336
10. 23. 12 Rebellion Racing AER N. Prost / N. Heidfeld / M. Beche 330
NC. NC. 22 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo H. Ticknell / A. Buncombe / M. Krumm 242
DNF. DNF. 23 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo M. Chilton / J. Mardenborough / O. Pla 234
DNF. DNF. 21 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo T. Matsuda / L. Ordóñez / M. Shulzhitskiy 115
EX. EX. 4 Team ByKolles CLM P1 S. Trummer / P. Kaffer / T. Monteiro

#47 KCMG ORECA 05: Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley, Nicolas Lapierre

LMP2: KCMG on top in a tight class battle

The second-tier LMP2 class was ultimately decided in favour of the KCMG ORECA 05-Nissan, which emerged victorious after surviving a few scary moments in the latter stages of the race.

The #47 Hong Kong-run entry led from the outset – only briefly losing the lead in the opening hours through the pit stop cycles – and it truly stamped its authority thereafter with Nicolas Lapierre, and Brits Matthew Howson and Richard Bradley behind the wheel.

The trio had to work hard for it in the final hours, thanks to separate trips up the escape road at Indianapolis for Howson and Bradley.

That allowed the #38 Jota Sport (piloted by GP2 Series race-winner Mitch Evans, former McLaren test driver Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan) and the #26 G-Drive Ligier Nissan (Roman Rusinov / Julien Canal / Sam Bird) to close right up to the leaders, but ultimately the KCMG car led them home in a thrilling finish.

2015 24 Hours of Le Mans – LMP2 Class Final Classification
Class Ovrl No Team / Entry Drivers Laps
1. 9. 47 KCMG ORECA 05 Nissan M. Howson / R. Bradley / N. Lapierre 358
2. 10. 38 Jota Sport Gibson Nissan S. Dolan / O. Turvey / M. Evans 358
3. 11. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS Nissan R. Rusinov / J. Canal / S. Bird 358
4. 12. 28 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS Nissan G. Yacamán / R. González / P. Derani 357
5. 13. 48 Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03R N. Berthon / K. Chandhok / M. Patterson 347
6. 14. 27 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan M. Medliani / D. Markozov / N. Minassian 340
7. 15. 31 Extreme Speed Ligier JS Honda E. Brown / J. van Overbeek / J. Fogarty 339
8. 16. 45 Ibañez Racing ORECA 03R J. Ibañez / P. Perret / I. Bellarosa 337
9. 19. 29 Pegasus Racing Morgan Nissan L. Roussel / H. Tung / D. Cheng 334
10. 28. 30 Extreme Speed Ligier JS Honda S. Sharp / R. Dalziel / D. Hansson 329
11. 29. 35 OAK Racing Ligier JS Nissan J. Nicolet / J. Merlin / E. Maris 328
12. 32. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS Judd T. Krohn / N. Jönsson / J. Barbosa 323
13. 33. 37 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan M. Aleshin / K. Ladygin / A. Ladygin 322
DNF. DNF. 34 OAK Racing Ligier JS Honda C. Cumming / K. Estre / L. Vanthoor 329
DNF. DNF. 42 Strakka Racing Dome Nissan N. Leventis / J. Kane / D. Watts 264
DNF. DNF. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05 P. Thiriet / L. Badey / T. Gommendy 204
DNF. DNF. 43 SARD Morand Morgan Evo P. Ragues / O. Webb / Z. Amberg 162
DNF. DNF. 36 Signatech Alpine Nissan N. Panciatici / P. Chatin / V. Capillaire 110
DNF. DNF. 41 Greaves Motorsport Gibson Nissan N. Panciatici / P. Chatin / V. Capillaire 71

#64 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R: Jordan Taylor, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner

LMGTE Pro: Corvette grabs the spoils as Ferrari slips up

The AF Corse Ferrari team looked on course to defend its 2014 crown, only for a late gearbox problem to hit the #51 458 Italia (Bruni / Fisichella / Vilander). The car was confined to the pits and ultimately rejoined third behind its sister #71 entry (Calado / Beretta / Rigon).

A five-lap margin of victory for the #64 Corvette Racing-GM team (Gavin / Milner / Taylor) was a rather flattering gap in the circumstances, but the result was a sweet consolation after the team lost its sister #63 entry after a heavy qualifying accident for Jan Magnussen.

2015 24 Hours of Le Mans – LMGTE Pro Class Final Classification
Class Ovrl No Team / Entry Drivers Laps
1. 17. 64 Corvette Racing C7.R O. Gavin / T. Milner / J. Taylor 337
2. 21. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia D. Rigon / J. Calado / O. Beretta 332
3. 25. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia G. Bruni / G. Fisichella / T. Vilander 330
4. 27. 95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage C. Nygaard / N. Thiim / M. Sørensen 330
5. 30. 91 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR R. Lietz / M. Christensen / J. Bergmeister 327
6. 34. 99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage F. Rees / A. MacDowall / R. Stanaway 320
DNF. DNF. 97 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage D. Turner / S. Mücke / R. Bell 110
DNF. DNF. 92 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR P. Pilet / F. Makowiecki / W. Henzler 14
WD. WD. 63 Corvette Racing C7.R J. Magnussen / A. García / R. Briscoe

#72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 GTE: Andrea Bertolini, Viktor Shaitar, Alexey Basov

MGTE Am: Heartbreak for Aston Martin

While AF Corse might have felt unlucky in the GTE-Pro class, spare a thought for the Aston Martin squad, which had a shocking race where many expected the British cars to dominate.

A certain GTE-Am class win slipped through the fingers of the #98 Vantage V8 when Paul Dalla Lana crashed out in the final hour of the race at the Ford chicane.

The Canadian’s blunder handed victory to the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia entry, run by the AF Corse squad, with Victor Shaytar crossing the line to the delight of teammates Andrea Bertolini and Aleksei Basov.

There were also cheers for Hollywood actor-turned-racer Patrick Dempsey, who finished second in class in his Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR. It was the Grey’s Anatomy actor’s biggest racing result of his career, and the first class podium finish in four attempts at the 24-hour race.

2015 24 Hours of Le Mans – GTE Am Class Final Classification
Class Ovrl No Team / Entry Drivers Laps
1. 20. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia V. Shaitar / A. Basov / A. Bertolini 332
2. 22. 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR P. Dempsey / P. Long / M. Seefried 331
3. 24. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia B. Sweedler / T. Bell / J. Segal 330
4. 26. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia F. Perrodo / E. Collard / R. Águas 330
5. 31. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia P. Mann / R. Giammaria / M. Cressoni 326
6. 35. 68 Team AAI Porsche 911 RSR H. Chen / G. Vannelet / M. Parisy 320
7. 36. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia K. Giermaziak / M. Avenatti / A. al Faisal 320
8. 37. 67 Team AAI Porsche 911 GT3 RSR J. Chen / X. Maassen / A. Kapadia 316
DNF. DNF. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE P. Dalla Lana / P. Lamy / M. Lauda 321
DNF. DNF. 53 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT J. Bleekemolen / B. Keating / M. Miller 304
DNF. DNF. 55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia D. Cameron / A. Mortimer / M. Griffin 241
DNF. DNF. 96 Aston Martin Vantage GTE R. Goethe / S. Hall / F. Castellacci 187
DNF. DNF. 50 Larbre Compétition Corvette C7.R G. Roda / P. Ruberti / K. Poulsen 94
DNF. DNF. 88 Abu Dhabi Porsche 911 RSR C. Ried / K. Bachler / K. Al Qubaisi 44

Images via Motorsport.com

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Josh Kruse

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