DragonSpeed Bow Out Of LMP1, But Reveal A Request Was Made To Race A Different LMP1
Just before the #10 BR1 Gibson left the pits for the final time, the car expiring out on the circuit, DragonSpeed’s LMP1 adventure ending in the darkness, DSC caught up with Team Owner Elton Julian:
“We’re fighting on, we always do, but it feels like a losing battle with the car. We’ve tried to fix the problems, Dallara has tried to fix the problems, but ultimately it’s been a bridge too far.
“We knew it would be like this here, and we tried, really very hard, to get agreement from the organisers to run a different car here in LMP1. The discussions went a long way down the road but ultimately we did not get the necessary approval. With the hindsight that’s a real shame.”
DSC believes that the team requested, but were denied, an opportunity to exchange the BR1 for the Ginetta AER for Le Mans. It is understood that another team requested, but was refused, an exchange of car earlier in the season outside LMP1.
Each of the Toyotas had a single issue during the race – the #8 with the fix to the door that was believed to be causing a minor aero imbalance, then the slow puncture and tyre sensor issue that ultimately lost the race for the luckless #7 car.
The reliability and remarkable pace from the Toyotas offset the relatively high number of interventions in the race, including eight Safety Cars, to see both TS050s finish on the lead lap, the first time in the WEC and Hybrid eras that this has occurred.
The last time the first and second placed cars at Le Mans finished on the same lap was the 2011 race with the Lotterer/ Treluyer/ Fassler Audi holding off the Peugeots.
The last time cars from the same team finished 1,2 and on the same lap was 1983 – Rothmans Porsche pulling off the same feat as the hobbled winner was being caught fast by Derek Bell’s chasing car.
No Distance Record
385 laps, 5246.01 km, fell just short of last year’s 388 lap finishing total, the only totals recorded for the current circuit length, 13.626km.
Big in Japan
Kazuki Nakajima became the first ever Japanese Driver in any discipline to secure an FIA Drivers World Championship – and would have done so whichever position in the top 2 he finished in.
Three Up For Fernando
The WEC win for the Toyota trio secures a third FIA World Drivers Championship for Fernando Alonso, and, of course, a title in a second discipline in the sport, only the second time that has been achieved after Petter Solberg’s successes in both Rallying and Rallycross.
Mike Conway’s early race 3:17.297 signalled intent as the #7 car broke away from the sister Toyota, it was also a race lap record, edging the mark held since 2015 by Andre Lotterer in the Audi R18 by just under two-tenths of a second.
Crowds Were Down Again
The official attendance released post-race by the ACO was 252,500, down over 4,000 from the total released last year and over 10,000 down on the record total released for 2015
This was, by far, the best result of the season for the SMP Racing team, both cars ran strongly until the big off for Orudzhev in the #17 eliminated that car.
The #11 though made it to the finish, fending off the Rebellion challenge and claiming the first overall podium for the team, for any Russian-flagged effort.
AER On The Podium
The SMP Racing podium marked too the first for AER on the overall podium, the P60C proving now to be a strong and reliable powerplant, the new for Le Mans aero doing the business too with Stoffel Vandoorne again topping 350 km/h in the race, as he had done at the Test Day.
Lapierre Laps It Up
Nico Lapierre continues his 100% winning record in LMP2, now four wins in four starts over five years! He’ll be back in 2020 with Cool Racing.
Signatech too improve their record, now three class wins in LMP2, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
It means too that they have maintained a 100% record in the Super Season of finishing on the podium in every race.
Aston Martin’s Record Spoiled
In contrast, Aston Martin saw a full season record fall at the final fence, the accident for Marco Sorensen, that eliminated the #95 Vantage GTE, seeing the first and only DNF of the debut season of the new car from AMR.
Daniel Doubles Up
Daniel Serra’s win in the AF Corse Ferrari means that he is the only man in the GTE Era to take wins at Le Mans for different manufacturers, this after his win with Aston Martin Racing in 2017.
Perfect Score From Project 1 and the Porsche 911 RSR
The first FIA WEC season from Project 1 Motorsports ends with a WEC title and a Le Mans win for the #56 car. It also marks a 100% winning record in the GTE AM class by the current Porsche 911 RSR after the win last year for the #77 Dempsey Proton car in the new car’s first outing in GTE Am.
The exclusion from the GTE AM win for Keating Motorsport means that the only non-WEC entrant allocated an automatic Le Mans entry loses that prize.
Against the current rules Project 1 are unlikely to be able to add their third car from the ELMS to activate their auto entry as there is a restriction to a team only now allowed two per licence – and their 2019/20 WEC entries were both filed against the same licence that Le Mans was won under!
The end of the 2018/19 ‘Super Season also sees the conclusion of the longest season in motorsport history, the switch to a season concluding at the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours lasted some 59 weeks from the 2018 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps to the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours.
The switch to a new cycle for the season means too that the incoming FIA World Champions (Toyota, Porsche, Fernando Alonso, Seb Buemi and Kaz Nakajima, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen) will have almost half a year to wait before they are officially crowned as such, that happens at the end of year FIA Gala!
And The Tyres?
Michelin took only their third win in LMP2 in the FIA WEC era (Dunlop have won all of the remainders), and their first Le Mans win since 2010 in LMP2 securing a clean sweep of all four classes as a result.
It’s Michelin’s 22nd consecutive overall win at Le Mans!
The elimination of the #85 Keating Motorsport Ford GT from the results marks the second consecutive yer that a car that crossed the line first in class was later disqualified after an identical fate befell the G-Drive ORECA last year in LMP2. Remarkably its the second year too that cars in fourth place in GTE Pro have been penalised.
The #68 this year was excluded, the #67 last year lost 8 places to a driver hours infringement, that same car profited from their team-mates misfortune in 2019.
The exclusion of the #85 means that 11 nations were represented on the top steps of the overall and class podiums. Only Brazil had two representatives – LMP2 winner Andre Negrao and GTE Pro winner Daniel Serra:
Japan – Nakajima
Switzerland – Buemi
France – Lapierre
Belgium – Thiriet
Brazil – Negrao and Serra
United Kingdom – Calado
Italy – Pier Guidi
Norway – Perfetti
Germany – Bergmeister
USA – Lindsey
The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours sees the end of full-season WEC Competition for ByKolles, DragonSpeed, TDS Racing (though the team will return under the Racing team Nederland banner), Larbre Competition, BMW Team MTEK, Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, and Clearwater Racing.
It will be the last Le Mans appearance too for the US end of Chip Ganassi Ford’s operation.
The pair of post-race disqualifications meant that just 47 cars were classified. There was one non-classified finisher, the RLR ORECA, 11 retirements, two disqualified cars and a non-starter (#99 Proton).
That’s still significantly more finishers than the 2018 edition, which saw just 41 cars finish classified. Last year, there was also one non-classified finisher, and two cars disqualified!
Formula E Calendar Set To See Changes In WEC Driver Line-ups
Sam Bird looks set to step down from AF Corse’s WEC effort as the calendars of the WEC and Formula E substantially collide in the coming season.
There’s an enigma too in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Camp for Sebastien Buemi, though Toyota has a record of sorting these things out in good time, expect either their Reserve Driver Thomas Laurent to substitute and/ or the team to run two driver line-ups at the pair of 4 hour races in the coming WEC season.