The three Toyota TS050 Hybrids were expected to play a key role in the race, but the Japanese team once again fell foul of the cruelty of competition. In the lead from the start, the #7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin) and the #9 (Lapierre/Kunimoto/Lopez) retired before the halfway stage due to a mechanical issue for the #7 and a race incident for the #9. Porsche were ready to pounce and the #1 Jani/Lotterer/Tandy took control in the ninth hour. Heading towards victory with less than four hours to go, the crowd gasped as the car ground to a halt in the Mulsanne Straight and announced its retirement a few minutes later. It was down to the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley) to defend the manufacturer’s chances. The crew fought back magnificently from 55th place and accomplished their mission. A third victory in a row earns the German marque the right to keep the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy. The remaining Toyota, the #8, finished second in class but in 9th place overall.
In LMP2, the #13 and #31 soon dominated the class, swapping from first to second depending on pit-stops. However, the reliability of the #38 Oreca 07-Gibson (Tung/Laurent/Jarvis) was a force to be reckoned with. The #38 overtook the #13 in the 16th hour and with the LMP1s in trouble, it was leading the race with 3 hours to go. It finished the race in second place overall, just ahead of the #13 Oreca 07 – Gibson (Piquet/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche). For the first time ever, there are two LMP2s on the podium of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
LMGTE Pro promised fireworks and did not disappoint. The sparks certainly flew between Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche. For several hours, the #97 and #95 Aston Martins were in first and second place, staving off attacks from Corvette, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche. The closing stages were enthralling – the #63 Chevrolet Corvette C7R (Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor) finally succumbing to the #97 Aston Martin (Turner/Adam/Serra).
LMGTE Am was well-balanced in the early stages, with a tussle between Ferrari 488 GTE, Aston Martin and Porsche 911 RSR. However, in the end the Italian flexed its muscles and the class was won by the #84 Ferrari 488 GTE (Smith/Stevens/Vanthoor), followed by two other Ferraris.
The 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was fraught with emotion with 258,500 spectators witnessing a record 19th victory for Porsche in this legendary race.
Source: ACO Le Mans