Toyota’s LMP1-H cars have won a second 1-2 finish at Le Mans – but under some controversy about their order, after a forced pit stop exchanged the lead with only one hour to go.
Early drama hit the #3 Rebellion LMP1, spinning out of a non-hybrid lead with a vigorous snap across the track and removing much of the car’s front bodywork. Laurent managed to get it back to the pits but hope of catching SMP cars faded ever more rapidly with a subsequent tyre-related penalty.
Comparatively, the #3 was, however, faring better than its sister car the #1 Rebellion which continued to suffer technical issues seem in qualifying and Free Practice at Le Mans, dipping in and out of the pits for much of the first hours of the race.
A severe crash between the #88 Dempsey-Proton GT Am car and the #64 GT Pro Corvette saw the Corvette taken out of the race – then controversially penalised for the collision, as Fassler was taken to the medical centre and #88 driver Satoshi Hoshino apologised to the Corvette team.
In the thirteenth hour of the race, the GT Pro-leading (and teams’ GT championship-winning) #93 Porsche was forced in to the garages for exhaust repairs, handing the lead to the #51 Ferrari.
The #8 car managed to overtake the pole-sitting #7 during the night – but Kamui Kobayashi was able to reclaim the top spot from Sebastien Buemi before the sun came up over Circuit de la Sarthe..
With less than six hours to go, long-time LMP2 leader G-Drive was forced into the pits with a malfunctioning starter motor, costing 20 minutes of painful time and handing the lead to the Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 car.
There was a safety car with three and a half hours to go after Nyck de Vries has a heavy crash in the Team Nederlands LMP2 that proved fateful for the GT Pro win. The leading #51 AF Corse Ferrari looked set to lose to the #93 Porsche on
De Vries managed to get the LMP2 back but heavily damaged – amazingly, the car was repaired enough to go back out but suffered a puncture that saw it fully out of any kind of contention.
Keating Motorsport, in contention for the GT Am win and title given stop-go penalty with an hour and ten minutes to go for spinning the wheels at the end of the pit stop, seemingly handing both to the Project One Porsche, which had been behind the Keating car for the whole race.
With one hour and one minute to go, the #7 Toyota, driven at the time by Jose-Maria Lopez slowed on track with tyre pressure warning that sent it into the pits and gave the #8 the lead with Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel. The #7 went back out, with only the front-right tyre replaced and the warning light still on, one minute behind the #8.
Ben Keating was able to speed up enough to take the stop-go penalty and keep the lead, before handing over to pro teammate Jeroen Bleekmolen with a very short gap back to the advancing Jorg Bergmeister.
With 51 minutes to go, Nakajima exchanged several seemingly panicked radio messages, told to remain at ‘normal pace’ by his engineer. Seemingly a frenzied radio discussion about potentially swapping places with the #7
Philipp Eng managed to get his stricken BMW M8 back to the pits after an hour and twenty minutes of impromptu trackside repairs, with thirty eight minutes and a chance to see the chequered flag
Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi win the FIA WEC drivers’ title for the 2018-19 Super Season, as well as both Le Mans of the extended calendar.
Speaking as the chequered flag fell, Buemi said his feelings on the win were mixed – “It doesn’t feel so good because car #7 deserved it – I can understand how they feel because it happened to us in 2016, so it doesn’t feel so good.”
Keating Motorsport take the first-ever Le Mans win for a privately entered Ford GT car. Nicolas Lapierre crossed the line in tears, taking the LMP2 win and a continued 100% win record in the class with his fourth Le Mans victory, this time for Signatech Alpine Matmut.
The #51 Ferrari took the Le Mans win in GT Pro, while losing their previous world title to the second-placed #93 Porsche. The third place on the outright podium – and fastest privateer LMP1 – went to the SMP Racing #11 car, with Stoffel Vandoorne crossing the line after driving more than 10 hours of the race.
Full results – 24h du Mans 2019
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 – Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso (LMP1-H)
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 – Kamui Kobyashi, Mike Conway, Jose-Maria Lopez (LMP1-H)
3. SMP Racing #11 – Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin, Stoffel Vandoorne (LMP1)
4. Rebellion Racing #1 – Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Bruno Senna (LMP1)
5. Rebellion Racing #3 – Thomas Laurent, Nathanael Berthon, Gustavo Menezes (LMP1)
6. Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 – Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao, Pierre Thiriet (LMP2)
7. Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 – Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richelmi, Gabriel Aubry (LMP2)
8. TDS Racing #28 – Matthieu Vaxivierre, Francois Perrodo, Loic Duval (LMP2)
9. United Autosports #22 – Paul di Resta, Filipe Alberquerque, Phil Hanson (LMP2)
10. IDEC Sport #48 – Memo Rojas, Paul-Loup Chatin, Paul Lafargue (LMP2)
11. G-Drive Racing #26 – Job van Uttert, Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne (LMP2)
12. Duqueine Engineering #30 – Nicolas Jamin, Pierre Ragues, Romain Dumas (LMP2
13. Panis Barthez Competition #23 – Rene Binder, Julien Canal, Will Stevens (LMP2)
14. Graff SO24 #39 – Vincent Capillaire, Tristan Gommendy, Jonathan Hirschi (LMP2)
15. Algarve Pro Racing #25 – John Falb, Andrea Pizzitola, David Zollinger (LMP2)
16. High Class Racing #20 – Anders Fjordbach, Dennis Andersen, Mathias Beche (LMP2)
17. Larbre Competition #50 – Erwin Creed, Romano Ricci, Nicholas Boulle (LMP2)
18. Cetilar Villorba Corse #47 – Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto, Andrea Belicchi (LMP2)
19. United Autosports #32 – Will Owen, Ryan Cullen, Alex Brundle (LMP2)
20. AF Corse #51 – Daniel Serra, James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi (GT Pro)
21. Porsche GT Manthey #91 – Frederic Makowiecki, Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz (GT Pro)
22. Porsche GT Core #93 – Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber (GT Pro)
23. Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA #68 – Joey Hand, Dirk Muller, Sebastien Bourdais (GT Pro)
24. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 – Andy Priaulx, Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell (GT Pro)
25. Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA #69 – Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Richard Westbrook (GT Pro)
26. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 – Stefan Mucke, Olivier Pla, Billy Johnson (GT Pro)
27. Racing Team Nederland #29 – Giedo van der Garde, Nyck de Vries, Frits van Eerd (LMP2)
28. Porsche GT Core #94 – Sven Muller, Mathieu Jaminet, Dennis Olsen (GT Pro)
29. Corvette Racing #63 – Mike Rockenfeller, Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen (GT Pro)
30. Porsche GT Manthey #92 – Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen (GT Pro)
31. BMW Team MTEK #82 – Augusto Farfus, Jesse Krohn, Antonio Felix da Costa (GT Pro)
32. Keating Motorsports #85 – Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Felipe Fraga (GT Am)
33. Team Project 1 #56 – Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, Egidio Perfetti (GT Am)
34. JMW Motorsport #84 – Rodrigo Baptista, Jeff Segal, Wei Lu (GT Am)
35. Weathertech Racing #62 – Toni Vilander, Cooper MacNeil, Robert Smith (GT Am)
36. Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 – Matt Campbell, Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer (GT Am)
37. Car Guy Racing #57 – Come Ledogar, Takeshi Kimura, Kei Francesco Cozzolino
38. Proton Competition #78 – Vincent Abril, Philippe Prette, Louis Prette (GT Am)
39. Clearwater Racing #61 – Luis Perez Companc, Matt Griffin, Matteo Cressoni (GT Am)
40. Gulf Racing #86 – Ben Barker, Mike Wainwright, Thomas Preining (GT Am)
41. Kessel Racing #83 – Michelle Gatting, Rachel Frey, Manuela Gostner (GT Am)
42. Risi Competizione #89 – Jules Gounon, Pipo Derani, Oliver Jarvis (GT Pro)
43. MR Racing (AF Corse) #70 – Olivier Beretta, Motoaki Ishikawa, Eddie Cheever III (GT Am)
44. TF Sport #90 – Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey, Charlie Eastwood (GT Am)
45. Spirit of Race #54 – Francesco Castellacci, Thomas Flor, Giancarlo Fisichella (GT Am)
46. Aston Martin Racing #97 – Alexander Lynn, Maxime Martin, Jonathon Adam (GT Pro)
47. Inter Europol Competition #34 – Jakub Smiechowski, Nigel Moore, James Winslow (LMP2)
48. Kessel Racing #60 – Claudio Schiavoni, Sergio Pianezzola, Andrea Piccini (GT Am)
49. BMW Team MTEK #81 – Nicky Catsburg, Martin Tomczyck, Philipp Eng (GT Pro)
50. RLR Motorsport/Tower Events #43 – Arjun Maini, John Farano, Norman Nato (LMP2 – retired)
51. Dragonspeed #31 – Pastor Maldonado, Roberto Gonzalez, Anthony Davidson (LMP2 – retired)
52. Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 – Ricky Taylor, David Heinemeier-Hansson, Jordan King (LMP2 – retired)
53. SMP Racing #17 – Stephane Sarrazin, Sergey Sirotkin, Egor Orudzhev (LMP1 – retired)
54. Bykolles Racing #4 – Tom Dillman, Paulo Ruberti, Oliver Webb (LMP1 – retired)
55. ARC Bratislava Kaneko Racing #49 – Miro Konopka, Henning Enqvist, Konstantin Tereschenko (LMP2 – retired)
56. AF Corse #71 – Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon, Sam Bird (GT Pro – retired)
57. Aston Martin Racing #95 – Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen, Darren Turner (GT Pro – retired)
58. Aston Martin Racing #98 – Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda (GT Am – retired)
59. Corvette Racing #64 – Oliver Gavin, Marcel Fassler, Tommy Milner (GT Pro – retired)
60. Dempsey-Proton racing #88 – Satoshi Hoshino, Giorgio Roda, Matteo Cairoli (GT Am – retired)
61. Dragonspeed #10 – Renger van de Zande, Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley (LMP1 – retired)