Ferrari pips Toyota in a rain-hit Le Mans 24 Hours to claim back to back victories

Ferrari pips Toyota in a rain-hit Le Mans 24 Hours to claim back to back victories

Ferrari overcame Toyota and Porsche to win the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second time in a row despite having two factory cars out of contention late in the race.

Ferrari took home the Le Mans 24 Hours victory for the second time in a row after an intensely contested and rain-affected French endurance classic race in which more than a quarter of the field finished under the safety car and a record nine cars finished on the lead lap.

Following a late-race battle between the two Hypercar manufacturers, Nicklas Nielsen prevailed by 14.221 seconds over the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid in the hands of Jose Maria Lopez, despite a near-accident with the right-side door of his AF Corse Ferrari 499P shared with Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina.

With an hour and 42 minutes remaining, the right-side door of the car broke open forcing the Dane to pit from the lead. However, Nielsen finished the race without the need for a second stop for fuel and outlasted Lopez’s No. 7 Toyota, shared with Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries.

This marked Nielsen’s and co-drivers Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina’s first Le Mans overall victory following the sister No. 51 car’s win last year.

The distance covered for this year’s 24 hour endurance race was the shortest since 1995, with the winning No. 50 Ferrari only completing 311 laps following a prolonged four-and-a-half-hour safety car period triggered by overnight rain and intermittent showers that affected more than half of the running.

Lopez’s charge was derailed by a spin at the first chicane along with a loss of power. As the weather deteriorated once again, he found it challenging to close the gap behind the Ferrari despite the fact that his last pit stop had given him all the power he needed. Toyota demanded him to focus on getting the car home with only 17 minutes to go.

Alessandro Pier Guidi’s No. 51 Ferrari finished in third place, despite having to contend with a five-second time penalty after making contact with Brendon Hartley’s No. 8 Toyota during the penultimate stop with two hours remaining.

Pier Guidi, who drove alongside fellow 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours race winners James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, managed to hold off an upbeat Laurens Vanthoor to claim the final podium spot with an advantage of less than 1.2 seconds at the finish.

Vanthoor, who shared the No. 6 Penske Porsche with pole-sitter Kevin Estre for the better part of the race, finished fourth in a car driven by Andre Lotterer for less than four hours.

The sister Toyota driven by Buemi, Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa rounded out the top five as the No. 5 Penske Porsche, driven by Matt Campbell, Fred Makowiecki, and Michael Christensen, finished sixth after a drive-through penalty for a slow zone procedure in the 20th hour.

The No. 2 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R which was composed of Alex Palou, Earl Bamber, and Alex Lynn, dropped to seventh place despite leading a few of the race’s final laps while using a different strategy from the outset.

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This was the consequence of the third safety car period of the race, during which a few cars remain out, including the Ferraris and the No. 2 Cadillac.

Next were the two Hertz Team JOTA Porsches, led by the newly rebuilt No. 12 entry of Norman Nato, Callum Ilott, and Will Stevens, which was shaken down on Friday night at the Le Mans airfield. The No. 38 JOTA Porsche, driven by Oliver Rasmussen, Phil Hanson, and Jenson Button, finished ninth.

Iron Lynx finished just two laps behind to round out the top ten marking a strong Le Mans début for the Lamborghini SC63. The No. 63 of Daniil Kvyat overcame the 11th place No. 94 Peugeot 9X8 in the hands of Stoffel Vandoorne.

The sister No. 93 Peugeot hypercar came in 12th despite suffering two spins, including a mishap at Indianapolis under the control of Nico Mueller.

Similar to its sister car, the No. 19 Lamborghini finished the race with virtually no trouble coming in 13th place. Meanwhile, the Isotta Fraschini Tipo6-C ran an uneventful race, finishing in 14th place.

Pipo Derani’s crash at Indianapolis in wet conditions during the 19th hour necessitated a lengthy stop for repairs for the No. 311 Action Express Racing Cadillac after initially losing the lead lap and an earlier overnight off through the gravel for Jack Aitken. The squad which is defending the IMSA GTP title finished 29th overall.

Meanwhile, Proton Competition’s Porsche—which had already missed four laps because of a problem with the door—finished in 45th place after also suffering a driveshaft failure late in the race as six Hypercars did not make it to the finish line.

With four hours remaining, the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari was forced to retire due to electrical issues, while Sebastien Bourdais had to stop his No. 3 CGR Cadillac on the racetrack due to an oil tank puncture and had to limp back to the pits during the third safety car session.

This came after Felipe Nasr’s race-ending crash in the No. 4 Porsche at Indianapolis. BMW also endured a disappointing debut appearance at Le Mans as the No. 15 Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8 suffered a race-ending crash in the seventh hour of racing after Dries Vanthoor made contact with Robert Kubica on the Mulsanne Straight.

The No. 20 BMW Art Car, on the other hand, was not classified after crashing under control of Robin Frijns during the second hour of racing. However it managed to finish the final laps, but was not classified.

Early in the race, both Alpine A424s suffered engine troubles and had to drop out within the span of an hour. In Hour 5, Ferdinand Habsburg’s No. 36 Alpine became the first car in the category to retire, and an hour later, Nico Lapierre took the No. 35 entry into the pits.

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