In the final hours of Le Mans 24H 2016 and after twenty hours of nose-to-tail racing, the no.2 Porsche is 40 seconds behind the lead Toyota and just 24 seconds behind the second placed Toyota. From early on in the race, Toyota took the fight to Porsche and it was a three-way tussle throughout the night, with the lead swapping between them in sync with the pit stops. If truth be told, the Toyotas have barely put a foot wrong, and although it is too early to be calling a winner, the two Toyotas have been mighty impressive.
From the Porsche side, the 919s have not matched their Japanese counterparts for outright speed but they have come very close. The no.2 Porsche has flown Porsche’s flag because the no.1 car experienced overheating problems during the night and spent around an hour in the pit garage only for Brendon Hartley to take it out and bring it straight back in the next lap. The team obviously sorted the problem out because it regained its legs and is now circulating very quickly, putting in one of the fastest laps of the race. Unfortunately the no.1 Porsche is 38 laps behind the leader as a result of its overheating problem, and with around three-and-a-half hours to go, is lying in sixth place.
The GTE PRO Porsche’s have had a torrid time, the first to go out was the no.91 which suffered an engine fire at 01h12 on Sunday morning. The next to go was the no.92, which, having had its power steering replaced at just after 23h00 on Saturday night, was then retired at 02h36 on Sunday morning when a front right chassis suspension pick-up broke. Then it was the turn of the no.77 Dempsey-Proton car to have a drive shaft replaced on Sunday morning just after sun-up. All three PRO RSRs suffered these failures as a result of pushing too hard, as the Porsche’s Balance of Performance index was heavily stacked against it, that the only way to stay with the class leaders was to ‘go for broke’ as there was nothing to lose. In the GTE AM class, it is a slightly different story with the no.88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche is running reliably in second place.
It looks as though the weather will hold and so the count down to the final hours of Le Mans 24H is on.
Written by: Glen Smale
Photos and words by: Glen Smale and John Mountney
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