In photos: Story of 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours
19 June 2017 – Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley pulled off a spectacular comeback to take victory for Porsche in an attrition-filled Le Mans 24 Hours. GPUpdate.net provides a pictorial review of the iconic race.
Carey gives the start signal
In a sign that the major motorsport championships will work more closely in the future, Formula 1 Chairman Chase Carey was appointed as the official starter, waving the French Tricolore at 15:00 local time on Saturday.
The field of 60 races on
The #7 Toyota led the field away, ahead of the sister #8 machine, followed by 58 opponents across the four categories (LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am) in extremely hot conditions at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Porsche's #2 hits trouble
Porsche was the first manufacturer to encounter major dramas, with the #2 coming into the pits during the fourth hour, requiring a Motor Generator Unit change. Mechanics busied themselves with repairs but the fixes took over an hour, relegating the team to the back of the field, its hopes seemingly in tatters...
Toyota's curse continues
Toyota hoped to break its curse and ran 1-2 as dusk fell, but the #8 lost over 30 laps in the garage when a replacement front motor and battery was required, before further misfortune struck. Kamui Kobayashi held a lead of two minutes in the #7 car but it developed a clutch problem, and he was forced to retire.
Disbelief, despair, desolation
Toyota's senior management watch on shell-shocked at the turn of events, a year on from its late heartbreak.
The #9 joins the scrapheap
Worse was to come for Toyota; the #9, running a lap down after early damage and an unscheduled stop to repair a slightly loose door, sustained rear damage following contact with an LMP2 rival. Nicolas Lapierre spun through the gravel at Dunlop and attempted to recover to the pit lane, but his efforts were in vain.
The #1 firmly in control
Through the night the #1 Porsche crew held a substantial lead, having fronted the field by nine laps when the Toyota trio faded in the very early hours of Sunday. The advantage grew to 14 laps despite André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy taking it easy, lapping several seconds off what was necessary, amid the LMP1 drama.
Porsche's #2 moves forward
The #2 continued its long comeback, overhauling GT rivals and working its way through the LMP2 order.
Lotterer's luck runs out
Disaster struck the #1 when it slowed on the pit straight with just under four hours remaining. Lotterer attempted to recover to the garage, running at a desperately reduced speed, but he halted along the Mulsanne Straight. After a few minutes of repair attempts, Lotterer conceded defeat and climbed out of the stricken 919 Hybrid, with the car officially retired.
Jani stunned by early exit
Jani, who profited from Toyota's shock retirement on the penultimate lap in 2016, digests losing a 14-lap lead.
An LMP2 car fronts the field
Astonishingly, the problems encountered by all six LMP1 cars meant that the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing-run ORECA 07 machine found itself at the front of the pack, holding a two-lap advantage over its rivals, with the #2 Porsche three-laps down. Nonetheless, the different set of regulations meant the #2 was circulating 10 seconds a lap quicker, and needed fewer pit-stops, meaning it was still on course to capture the lead.
The #2 duly takes the lead, and victory
A delay in the pits for the #38, due to requiring a new rear light, cost it over a minute, accelerating the #2's path to the lead, which it grabbed with 65 minutes remaining, on lap 347. The final hour was rattled off with professional ease and Timo Bernhard drove the car across the line to register victory after 367 laps. The #38 still took a stunning second overall, and LMP2 victory, with another LMP2, the #13 Rebellion, in third.
Elation for the winning crew
The #2 crew celebrated their victory in the pit lane, the second at Le Mans for both Bernhard (after 2010) and Earl Bamber (after 2015), and the first for team-mate Brendon Hartley.
The spoils for the victors
The trio hoisted their trophies aloft on the podium, with Porsche represented by LMP1 Vice President Fritz Enzinger, marking the 19th overall victory for the manufacturer, extending its record.