Porsche victorious at 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours as unreliability rocks LMP1
Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson second in LMP1 for Toyota; Britain's Oliver Jarvis wins LMP2 and finishes second overall; British drivers take victory in GTE Pro and GTE Am
By William Esler
Last Updated: 18/06/17 5:20pm
Porsche took victory at Le Mans for a third successive year as unreliability rocked the LMP1 category at the famous 24 hour race.
The number two Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley had dropped to last overall after an early trip to the garage to replace a front axle motor just four hours into the race.
But in a race of high attrition for the leading LMP1 category cars, they fought back through the field, taking the lead in the final hour from the number 38 LMP2 car of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent.
The number 38 car had looked on course for a shock victory when it inherited the lead after the number one Porsche retired with an oil pressure issue around 21 hours into the race.
The outright podium was completed by another LMP2 car, the number 13 Rebellion Oreca of Nelson Piquet Jr, David Heinemeier Hansson and Mathias Beche. They grabbed the final podium spot after Andre Negrao ran wide and into the gravel at Arnage in the number 35 Signatech Alpine with 40 minutes of the race remaining.
Third place in LMP2 and fourth overall went to Britain's Alex Brundle, son of Sky F1 pundit Martin, in the Jackie Chan DC Racing car he shared with Tristan Gommendy and David Cheng.
For Toyota, though, it was another heart-breaking race with just one of their three cars reaching the finish.
The number eight car driven by Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima was the only other LMP1 car to reach the chequered flag, but was ninth overall and nine laps behind the winning Porsche.
Their challenge was effectively ended when Buemi reported a problem and the car was pushed into the garage near the end of the eighth hour of the race as it required a replacement front motor and battery.
"It's so disappointing to drive so many laps in such a great car for no meaningful reward," said Davidson.
"That's all I was thinking later in the race when I was setting fast laps and closing down the other cars but the gap was too big after the problem.
"Once again Porsche did a great job. We won't give up; we've proved that by coming here with such a good car this year which gives me faith in the team that we will do it one day."
Before that they had been in a fight for the lead with the number seven Toyota which had broken the lap record in qualifying.
However, after a safety car period in the 10th hour of the race, Kamui Kobayashi was unable to accelerate as the race resumed and came agonisingly close to limping the car back to the pits, eventually stopping in the Porsche curves. Toyota said the issue was a clutch problem.
The Japanese firm then suffered more misery within 15 minutes as the number nine car being driven at the time by Nicolas Lapierre made contact with an LMP2 car at the first turn.
The impact damaged the left rear of the car and at one point it caught fire as the Frenchman tried to limp back to the pits. He would stop within a few hundred yards of the number seven Toyota and retire.
There was British success in the two GTE categories. Aston Martin's British pair Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and took victory in GTE Pro in the Vantage they shared with Daniel Serra after Adam passed the Corvette of Jordan Taylor, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia at the start of the final lap.
The Corvette would suffer a puncture on the last lap and lose second place in class to the Ford driven by Britain's Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell and Brazil's Pipo Derani.
In GTE Am, former F1 driver Will Stevens took victory in the Ferrari he shares with fellow Briton Robert Smith and Belgium's Dries Vanthoor.