Porsche wins Le Mans motoring extravaganza

German brand returns to podium proving to 263,400 attending why hybrid power is setting new racing records

Once more Le Mans 24 hours proved to be the pinnacle of motorsport: pitting man and man-made machine against the laws of nature and ever more rigorous fuel and engineering targets that challenge the laws of physics.

Over 24 hours on the 8 ½ mile circuit that's a mix of track and closed public road, teams ranging from reputed racing stars to well-heeled amateurs challenge gruelling levels of physical and mental concentration and mechanical ability. The weekend's fastest lap was set by the third-place Audi, with a time of 3min 17.475 seconds and an average speed of 154.3 mph (248.3 km/h).

In front of an attendance of 263,400, Porsche, Audi and Toyota demonstrated why fuel efficient technologies need not be dull. All used hybrid systems, in Toyota's case delivering a combined power output touching 1,000bhp. So not only is the racing faster than ever but fuel consumption was reduced by 30 per cent.

Porsche returned to the podium after a 16 years hiatus, in a race they once dominated for the last three decades of the last century. The Germans dented the pride of sister brand Audi, with its two cars finishing one-two.


It was the No19 Porsche 919 hybrid driven by Britain's Nick Tandy, Germany's Nico Hülkenberg (taking time out from driving in Formula One for Force India) and New Zealand's Earl Bamber who took the flag on Sunday having completed 395 laps, only one clear after the full 24 hours of racing from their sister car, the No17 of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber and three ahead of the closest Audi, driven by last year's winners André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer, who took the final podium place.

World endurance champions Toyota couldn’t match the straightline speed pace of the Germans but the Japanese’s reliability record brought its two cars in together.

Ireland was well represented at Le Mans by Murphy Prototypes Endurance Racing Team. Owned by Dublin businessman and former single-seat racing driver Greg Murphy, its Nissan-pwered Oreca O3R finished in fifth place in its class and 13th overall in the race, out of 55 starters.

Its LMP2 class was won by the KCMG Oreca of Nicolas Lapierre, Richard Bradley and Matt Howson, the GTE Pro by the Chevrolet Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor, and the GTE Am by the SMP Ferrari of Victor Shaitar, Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov. Second place in the amateur category went to the Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Long, Germany's Marco Seefried and the actor turned well-respected racing driver Patrick Dempsey.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times