Porsche has taken the top two steps on the podium at the 83rd running of the Le Mans 24-Hour, with the car shared by Aussie Mark Webber finishing in second place.
The number 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by F1 pilot Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and New Zealander Earl Bamber took the victory at the expiry of 24 hours, while Webber and teammates Timo Bernhard and another New Zealander in Brendon Harley brought the number 17 car home second.
Porsche’s 17th Le Mans win and first outright victory at the event since 1998 marked the end of Audi’s recent domination of the 24-Hour, which had seen the four-ring carmaker take victory five years in a row.
The LM P1 category also featured Toyota and Nissan, with the latter creating Le Mans history by choosing a front-wheel-drive layout.
One of the FWD Nissans finished in 40th position, but while classified as the last car running, the car had not completed 70 percent of the race distance to be declared a finisher. The other two FWD Nissans retired.
Nevertheless, Nissan said seeing at least one of its racers greet the chequered flag was a case of “mission accomplished” as the GT-R LM NISMO was competing at Le Mans for the first time.
The number 19 Porsche covered 395 laps in 24 hours, which left it two short of the race record, while car 17 was pinged by a one-minute penalty during the race when Harley overtook under yellow flags and was eventually one lap behind at the finish.
In LM P2, victory was claimed by the number 47 KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan driven by Lapierre, Howson and Bradley ahead of the number 38 JOTA Sport Gibson 015S Nissan and the number 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan.
LM GTE Pro was won by the number 64 Chevrolet Corvette of Gavin, Milner and Taylor, while in LM GTE Am, the SMP Racing number 72 Ferrari 458 Italia of Bertolini, Shaytar and Basov snatched victory in the last hour.
Organisers said a crowd of 263,500 attended throughout the duration of the event, which is a new record for the Le Mans 24-Hour.
Porsche’s victory sees the German carmaker top of the FIA World Endurance Championship table with 140 points from Audi (124) and Toyota (71).
From Le Mans, the series moves to Germany’s Nurburgring in August.