By on June 18, 2017

aston martin le mans, Image: FIAWEC

While Porsche saw a remarkable comeback victory at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, clawing its way from the back of the pack as practically every LMP1 class car suffered a catastrophic breakdown, all the real action was taking place among the LM GTE Pro cars — as usual.

Jordan Taylor, masterfully piloting the No. 63 Corvette, kept himself in the lead for much of the race but everything morphed into a sphincter clenching contest in its final moments. Aston Martin had already suffered a nail-biting off with its No. 95 car, but it was the No. 97 Vantage of Jonathan Adam that had us cursing near the race’s end. Attempting a bold and ill-advised maneuver, Adam managed to pass Taylor momentarily by diving on the inside and exiting the corner wide. The two cars even made light contact as the Corvette retook the lead and everybody in the pits started screaming. 

Adam continued hounding Taylor around the track until the Corvette ran through some gravel and a left-front puncture became apparent. While it’s unclear if the gravel caused the blowout or a preexisting flat caused the car to hit the rocks, the Vette was now in serious trouble. Taylor was able to keep the Aston from passing for a time, Adam passed him easily on the straightaway at the beginning of the final lap.

By now it was clear the Corvette had suffered additional damage from running through the rocks and was in a bad way. You didn’t need a stopwatch to know that Taylor’s last lap was significantly slower and you could visibly see the car coming apart around the bum tire. The Chevy’s limping lap gave the No. 67 Ford GT and Harry Tincknell an opportunity to pass, relegating Taylor to third place in the GTE Pro class.

However, it probably would have been Ford’s race had officials not forced the GT to don an extra 20 kilograms of weight and undergo a horsepower reduction as a way to level the class. Close races are always more fun, but you hate to see an icon neutered for the sake of fairness.

Still, it was a much more exciting than watching all the LMP1 cars’ hybrid systems break down over and over. Congratulations to Porsche for having an extremely fast car that didn’t spend quite so much time in the pits as the rest of its prototype category. 

ford gt le mans fiawec, Image: FIAWEC

[Image: FIAWEC]

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9 Comments on “Porsche Won Le Mans 24 Hours (but That Wasn’t the Race You Were Watching)...”

  • avatar

    “but you hate to see an icon neutered for the sake of fairness”

    I’ll cry for Ford when ACO relaxes their displacement limits.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Yup, Top fuellers are restricted as well.

      In Australia Group A racing died in the a $$. A Ford or GMH V8 weighed 1300kg in race trim and yet Ford and GM wanted the 2.4 litre Skyline to weigh 1800kg!

      Nissan pulled out, they thought 1500kg was enough.

      V8 SuperCars became the new formula. As successful as V8 SuperCars are it came about because Detroit iron had trouble competing against Euro and Japanese tech.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to mention how they were basically handed the race last year between BoP and penalty drama.

  • avatar

    The LMP cars are so ugly and offer no brand recognition cues – just a waste of time in my opinion. It would be much more interesting if the GT classes were expanded somehow. How about more super cars such as the Porsche 918, McLaren P1, or LaFerrari, or some down-market sports/hot hatch classes such as Focus RS, Golf R, Subaru WRX Sti, Toyota 86, Civic R, Audi A3RS, etc. or some Pony cars such Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, and BMW M2. It would also be more interesting if they were kept closer to stock – buy off the showroom and put a roll cage, fuel cell, and fire control system in and off you go.

    • 0 avatar

      They should just say you can race whatever you want provided you sell 2,000 of them to the EU public during the 12 months preceding the race. No more ‘managed competition,’ prototypes built to fit in some stupid box, or Porsche 911s that can see where modern cars went. Just build the best car you can sell to the public and then race it. If you want to make a major change to the car, the most recent 2,000 sold must have it. If you want to buy the best sports car, buy the one that wins. Marketing is for puppets.

    • 0 avatar

      That is what GT3 is all about. At the moment the US does not follow those rules.

  • avatar

    This was the best broadcast of the 24 since Fox took over. The addition of Brad Kettler and Marshall Pruett made it a technical fact finding mission. The racing was better than ever and hopefully it stays that way.

  • avatar

    Long ago, Le Mans had everything from Ferraris and Jaguars to Austin Healey Sprites on the course simultaneously. Coping with traffic was a significant hazard.

    In one of its attempts to provide “cheap” racing, the SCCA created Showroom Stock. Buy a street legal car, install safety equipment and go racing on street tires. The first thing that happened was that tires were trimmed to half depth to improve handling. (Actually a good idea since racing loads tended to tear chunks out of the tread.) Then, teams with the right connections would go through parts warehouses, weighing and measuring parts to get the combinations that gave the best performance. It was balancing and blue printing without a machine shop. Even though it was still legally stock, a car built up this way had a nearly insurmountable advantage over one bought off a dealer’s lot.

  • avatar

    I’m still mad that the ACO screwed the Corvettes with the air inlet restriction. They favored makes that run in the WEC (Corvette doesn’t), so the Corvettes got screwed.

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