24 Hours of Le Mans: Porsche 1-2; Chevy Corvette wins class
For a change, it wasn't business as usual at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The formidable Audi juggernaut was finally replaced by Porsche, whose fast and fortunate 919 Hybrid LMP1 cars recorded the marque's first overall win in the French endurance classic since 1998 as part of a 1-2 finish. Audi's latest R18 e-tron Quattro rounded out the podium in third place, with a team car taking fourth spot. Each was separated by a lap at the end of the day-long competition. This marked the first time in five years - and only the third time in the past 17 -- that Audi was not standing on the top step when the victory celebration began.
The three-car LMP1 teams of Porsche and Audi hybrid racers battled furiously through the event, but the top-echelon prototypes from Porsche that had qualified 1-2-3 encountered fewer problems and in the end, the 919 Hybrid driven by Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy crossed the line ahead of teammates Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber. The third place Audi R18 e-tron Quattro was piloted by André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer. Despite intermittent rain and cautions, the winners covered 395 laps, only two less than the all-time record. While the Toyota TS040 Hybrid was the top Japanese LMP1 entry finishing in 6th place, the radical front-drive Nissan GT-R LM Nismo cars suffered massive teething problems and none racked up enough laps to be classified at the end of the event.
Corvette C7.R wins GTE
Although a crash during qualifying caused by a stuck throttle took out one of the new Corvette C7.R entries in the hotly contested GTE Pro category, its sister car driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor grabbed victory in that class - the eighth for Corvette at Le Mans -- and claimed 17th overall spot five laps up on the AF Corse Ferrari 458 James piloted by James Calado, Davide Rigon and Olivier Beretta. The GTE Am laurels went to Andrea Bertolini, Victor Shaytar and Alexey Basov in the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 that held a one-lap edge on the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long and Marco Seefried.
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