Le Mans 24 Hours

2015 Le Mans Gallery – Porsche takes historic 17th win with 1-2 finish

Ok, we’ll hold our hands up. We didn’t predict this in our Friday Photo Gallery. Nope, we overlooked the pace of the Porsches in qualifying and, instead, went for another Audi victory. We were wrong, even if we had predicted it a year ago. But congratulations to Porsche for surprising us with a rather impressive 1-2 win!

2015 Le Mans Porsche 919 Race 001In what has been billed as the closest Le Mans LMP1 battle for a generation, Porsche and Audi duked it out for most of the entire 24 hours. After coming so close last year, the Stuttgart outfit were obviously determined to take a record 17th outright Le Mans victory. Oh, and they also seemed to have luck on their side, with Audi beset with multiple bizarre incidents and uncharacteristic reliability problems.

2015 Le Mans Porsche 919 Race 002

Still, that takes nothing away from the efforts of Nico Hülkenberg, Earl Bamber, and Nick Tandy and their error-free drive to the finish. For both Hülkenberg and New Zealander Bamber, this was their first ever Le Mans experience, whilst Brit Tandy had only previously raced in GT classes at La Sarthe. Despite their limited history at the 24 hour race, they drove the #19 car superbly to victory.

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Friday Photo – Le Mans 2015 Qualifying Gallery

If you remember back to last year, EngageSportMode got quite excited about Le Mans. Less so about the racing, as good as it was, and more so about the awesome imagery coming out of the manufacturers’ press offices. 2015 is proving to be no different, so we bring you some of the best shots from qualifying. r

Porsche – 919 Hybrid 2015 Le Mans Quali Porsche 919 Hybrid

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Friday Photo – Retro Livery for Nissan GT-R LM P1 NISMO

Ask any bearded hipster and they’ll happily tell you that retro is obviously cool. This fact is seemingly not lost on motorsport teams, with Nissan choosing to clad one of the Le Mans GT-R racers in a colour scheme from 25 years ago.

2015-nissan-gt-r-lm-nismo-le-mans-21-001

Anyone who has played Gran Turismo series will recognise the blue, red and white colours as having adorned a number of previous Nissan Le Mans entrants. In particular, Nissan wants to remember the R90CK from 1990 – the car that took pole position at La Sarthe that year.

 

However, things didn’t go to plan for the #24 car driven by Mark Blundell, Julian Bailey and Gianfranco Brancatelli, and it retired after 142 laps. In fact, despite numerous efforts, Nissan has never managed to win at the French 24 hour race, with the best result being 3rd place in 1998 for the R390 GT1.

The GT-R LM NISMO is rather different to those historic racers using a (whisper it) front-wheel drive setup to transfer power from the 500hp twin-turbocharged V6 engine. So, is it more Juke NISMO than GT-R? Not really, when you consider the additional 750hp generated by a KERS twin-flywheel system is sent to the back wheels. So, in an unconventional way, it is actually AWD – like a Nissan GT-R.

As you can see, the #21 car has been festooned with the retro livery. Whether it’ll prove to be effective on track remains to be seen, but at least it’ll be looking cool. The old-skool R90CK will also make an appearance in a track parade to celebrate the passing of 25 years since that pole position. Expect more Le Mans news as we build up towards the big day in two weeks time.

Le Mans 2014 Gallery – Audi wins for 13th time with 1-2 podium

After qualifying, when Audi only managed the 5th quickest time behind Toyota and Porsche, we cautioned against writing off the German giant too soon. Turns out we were right not to. 24 hours is a long time, and Audi proved to have the most luck and reliability in what became a day-long war of attrition. The result was the marque’s 13th top category Le Mans victory in 16 years – quite a record.

Le Mans 2014

There must come a point where Audi starts to wonder just how many times it wants to win at Le Mans. Having all but dominated the event since the turn of the millennium, there surely has to be a moment where the Volkswagen Group board decides the brand should do something else. But, until that day, it almost seems inevitable that Audi Sport will take the top honours year in, year out.

That isn’t to do a disservice to Audi; their professionalism, experience and sheer determination to win means you can never rule them out of contention. The race wasn’t without its difficulties for the German team. The #3 R18 e-tron quattro was ruled out early on in chaotic scenes, as torrential rain lashed down the Mulsanne straight. In addition, both #2 and #1 cars required replacement turbochargers to be fitted – no small task in itself. Oh, and there was the need for the #1 car to be rebuilt from scratch after Loïc Duval’s huge crash on Wednesday!

But, despite all that, Audi Sport brought home a 1-2 finish, with the #2 car of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer taking first, with Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené and Tom Kristensen taking second in the rebuilt #1 car. 2014 was perhaps the most open race for sometime; it certainly wasn’t clear-cut Audi would win Until Porsche hit problems with only a couple of hours to go, did it became apparent they just might. But, as ever, there was always that feeling Audi would come through; and they did. Well done Ingolstadt.

Le Mans 24 Hours

#8 Toyota repaired after dramatic early Mulsanne crash to take third.

Early on it had looked like Toyota had the 2014 event already sewn up. The pace of the #7 TS040 HYBRID looked unstoppable for the vast majority of the race, showing the speed which has netted the team two wins in the World Endurance Championship already in 2014. (more…)

Le Mans 2014 – First Qualifying Audi and Porsche Gallery

The 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours is already turning into a dramatic event; and that was only on the first day of practice!

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber

 

Loïc Duval’s terrifying crash in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro caused substantial delays, and a lot of worried faces. Luckily he walked away from the 170 mph crash with just minor grazes. The evening qualifying session was also filled with a number of incidents, but in the end it was first blood to the Porsche team. The 919 Hybrids claimed the top two positions in qualifying, with the Number 20 car of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernard and Mark Webber (yes, of not being as quick as Seb Vettel fame) on provisional pole. Volkswagen Group rivals Audi could only manage fifth and sixth on the provisional grid.

What the first night also produced was some stunning photography. Here we’ve highlighted our favourites of the two German giants battling it out on track:

There’s still lots more running to come, if everyone can avoid triggering more red flags. EngageSportMode will bring you more news and photos from Le Mans as the weekend unfolds.

Audi welcomes Porsche back to Le Mans – Video

Earlier we shared a couple of images to celebrate Porsche competing in the top category of the Le Mans 24 Hours, for the first time in 16 years. Rival Volkswagen Group member Audi decided to make a little video to personally salute the return of the Zuffenhausen company to Le Mans:

It’s not the first time we’ve seen Audi take to the road in the R-18 e-tron quattro, but it is the first time we’ve seen it overtaking a Porsche tractor. A subtle, friendly, dig at Porsche’s history perhaps?

Anyway, it’s rather cool and shows that things are already heating up between the German LMP1-H competitors ahead of next weekend’s main event.

Friday Photo – Porsche 24 Hours of Le Mans Heritage

We’re just over a week away from 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will feature a three-way battle for the headline LMP1-H title between Porsche, Audi and Toyota. Porsche hasn’t competed in the top category for 16 years, so the pressure is on the new 919 Hybrid to see if it can live up to the marque’s illustrious Le Mans history.

Porsche Le Mans History 001

Just some of the 16 Porsches to have taken outright victory at Le Mans.

With 16 overall victories, Porsche has a lot to live up to as the constructor with the record for most wins at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Audi is fast closing only Porsche, taking 12 overall titles since its first win with the R8 back in 2000. Since the millennium, it’s been Audi all the way, bar Bentley’s victory in 2003 and Peugeot’s 2009 win.

911 Gt1-98 took Porsche's last outright win back in 1998.

911 GT1-98 took Porsche’s last outright win back in 1998.

Amongst the famed Porsche winning cars such as the 936 and 962, is the infamous 917K which claimed the Stuttgart firms first win back in 1970. The rather beautiful 911 GT1-98 took Porsche’s most recent victory in 1998, after two years of trying with the original GT1 model. Despite being slower than rivals Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, the 1998 win was a product of the GT1’s reliability; something Porsche will be hoping to repeat with the 919 Hybrid. (more…)