At 18:30 on Saturday evening the Le Mans 24-Hours looked over for the Porsche 919 Hybrid of Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ). Their car had no front axle drive anymore, was repaired for 1.05 hours and re- joined the race 18 laps behind. But the 85th running of the endurance classic in Le Mans produced such dramatic changes that the impossible ultimately came true: After an enormous effort, the trio sliced through the field from 56th position to overall victory. For Le Mans record holder Porsche, it is the 19th overall win in the world’s toughest race and the third in a row meaning the German manufacturer can now keep the famous trophy.
For Earl Bamber it is his second Le Mans overall win at the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid after 2015. Timo Bernhard also scores his second Le Mans overall win. Following on from his maiden win in 2010 when he was loaned to Audi, he had dreamed to repeat it one day with Porsche. Brendon Hartley was arguably the hungriest of this year’s six Porsche LMP works driver squad as his name had yet to be engraved onto the big trophy.
How the final phase went for car number 2:
When the number 1 sister car stops on track soon after 11am after having led the race for more than ten hours, the time for the hunters had arrived. Hartley continuously improves during a multiple stint. After 312 laps, he comes in for his final refuel- ling stop then after 325 laps he hands over the car in fourth position to Bernhard. At 12:50pm, the 919 Hybrid is back on the same lap as the leading car – it is race lap 330. After all LMP1 hybrid works cars have either retired or been delayed, an LMP2 leads outright. After 338 laps Bernhard comes in for fuel and on lap 347 he takes the lead. His penultimate refuelling stop is after 351 laps before a final splash & dash after 360 laps. After 367 laps in total Bernhard takes the chequered flag to fulfil a dream.