That was a quite magnificent Le Mans 24 Hours with close racing in every class. And the ACO tell us that it happened in front of 263,500 spectators.
Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg become the first rookies to win Le Mans since Laurent Aiello in 1998, again, rather oddly, for Porsche.
It’s Nick Tandy’s first win too of course he becomes the 30th Briton to win Le Mans overall and scores the 42nd win by a British Driver.
Porsche win at Le Mans too for the first time since 1998, their 17th overall win here.
Nico Hulkenberg becomes the first winning driver to be a current Formula One driver since Bertrand Gachot and Johnny Herbert.
Earl Bamber becomes the first Kiwi to win the race overall since Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in 1966 and the youngest winner since Alexander Wurz in 1996.
Hulkenberg scores the 29th win for a German driver and the 18th German to score a win.
Michelin win again of course, rather neatly their 24th overall victory and their 18th consecutive win.
Porsche score their first 1,2 since 1998 too (and Kiwi driver finish 1,2 too), a first!
Audi complete the podium and retain their World Championship points lead.
Rather oddly that’s 17 consecutive years of podiums for Audi alongside 17 wins for Porsche.
In GTE Pro Corvette score their 8th class win, the first with the C7.R.
Oliver Gavin scores a fifth class win, Tommy Milner a second, and Jordan Taylor a first.
AF Corse get the other two steps on the podium (and a first time there for James Calado and Davide Rigon) and get a hatful of Manufacturer, Team and driver points that for tonight at least will be of no consolation whatsoever!
LMP2 saw a fine win by KCMG, the first Hong Kong flagged team ever to score a win here.
The Oreca 05 Nissan gets its first win here, in just the fifth race it has started!
Matt Howson, Richard Bradley and Nicholas Lapierre all score their first Le Mans class wins (after an overall podium last year for Lapierre with Toyota.
Jota Sport do the deja vu thing after early race woes and a fight back through the field. 2015’s charge didn’t quite match last years but the team will be pleased with second, and a first podium for the Gibson branded chassis and for Mitch Evans.
The G-Drive team would have preferred a better result but will be relatively content once the waters have settled with a finish that keeps them in the WEC Championship reckoning.
It was a 1,2,3 for Nissan NISMO power and 1,2,3 for Dunlop tyres.
GTE Am saw the first ever Russian flagged win with SMP Racing adding a Le Mans title to last year’s ELMS GT crown.
Again all three drivers scored their first class win: Andrea Bertolini, Aleksey Basov and Viktor Shaitar.
It was a popular second place finish for Dempsey Proton’s #77 Porsche 911 RSR for Le Mans debutant Marco Seefried, Pat Long and a very, very happy Patrick Dempsey – This is a good thing for our part of the sport.
A very happy Scuderia Corsa squad finished third in their Kessel prepped Ferrari.
It’s a first podium for Jeff Segal, Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler. It’s good to see the 21st century tradition of US privateer success continued.
Honourable mentions go to:
The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage crew, cruelly robbed of a hard earned win by a mistake in the final hour.
The #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan crew, eliminated blamelessly from second in LMP2 by an errant Aston Martin.
Rebellion Racing for getting both of their R-One AERs home, with the #13 scoring a win in a war of race long effort as much in the pits as on the track.
ByKolles Racing, against almost everyone’s predictions they brought the #4 Colin home. Huge kudos to a hard working crew with Pierre Kaffer in particular showing real on-track spirit.
Greaves Motorsport, in particular Gary Hirsch for a valiant effort to recover the (literally) powerless #41 Gibson.
SMP Racing for getting both of their new BR01s home (plus their class win in GTE AM of course).
Murphy Prototypes for their usual brand of bonhomie – and for carrying their best wishes to our departed friend.
Team AAI – The first Taiwanese flagged team here – getting both cars home after a near disaster in qualifying, including our good mate Alex Kapadia. You’ll read about his adventures in the coming days.
and yes to NISMO Nissan, as much as for bringing a breath of fresh air to the paddock as to taking the risk to field the extraordinary Nissan GT-R LMs.
As reality bit they altered their expectations to shoot for a finish and made that happen – but for last gasp bad fortune it could have been two.
There will be more hard work ahead on both the corporate and engineering fronts but one important task was certainly achieved here. The fans loved it!