In an action packed race that saw Porsche putting in an early challenge until both of the 919 Hybrids ran into trouble, Nicolas Lapierre brough the #8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid home to a 1 minute and 13-second victory over Loic Duval’s #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro,
Meanwhile, Audi appeared to struggle in the early stages of the race but showed improved performance in the second half. Lapierre shared the winning Toyota with Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, whose middle stint solidified their advantage, just as the remaining Porsche, #14, faltered.
While from the start the #14 Porsche pulled out an early lead, the Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas-driven entry had lost its advantage by the second hour due to Lieb stalling the car in the pits, which propelled Buemi to the lead. However, the real trouble, struck with two-and-a-half hours to go when Dumas slowed on track with electrical issues. While all watched convinced the car was destined for the pits, the guidance of his crew, the Frenchman managed to reboot the complex electronics within the Hybrid racer to solve the glitch on-board but this dropped him from second to fourth as a result one lap off the leaders.
As the diesel-powered Audi prototypes struggled for speed and fuel mileage today, particularly the #3 which was running the Le Mans low downforce bodywork, Porsche’s misfortunes opened up the door for the #1 car to finish second in the hands of Duval, Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi with Duval holding off a hard-charging Stephane Sarrazin in the #7 car to deny another Toyota 1-2 finish. The # 7 Toyota, which struggled with oversteer, lost time in the third hour due to a tactical miscalculation when it attempted to double-stint its Michelin tires.
Now running back at optimum performance, the #14 Porsche came home in fourth, ahead of the #2 Audi in fifth. Porsche’s #20 entry, meanwhile, hit suspension trouble early after damage caused by riding the kerbs and made repeated trips to the garage resulting in a 23rd place finish overall.
Rounding out the LMP1 class, Rebellion Racing got one of its new Toyota-powered R-Ones to the finish, with the #12 entry of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche completing the race in a respectable seventh overall after a steady run. The team’s #13 car, meanwhile, retired in the fifth hour following multiple issues, ending with a fire in the engine bay.
G-Drive Racing claimed LMP2 honors for the second consecutive race, with the Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal-driven Morgan-Nissan dominating the race and finishing 1 minute and 10 seconds ahead of the No. 38 Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN Nissan.
Full placings available from the FIAWEC here