After a long, and for many contenders, a star-crossed night and day, as the 24 Hours of Le Mans wound down to its 4 pm (local time) completion, the question became: Could Toyota, JOTA, Porsche and TF Sport make it to the checkered flag without any problems? They did, and there were no last-lap battles for the lead.
Toyota had a blessed race with only minor issues and, as expected, coasted to a one-two Hypercar and fifth straight overall victory. The biggest, and perhaps only surprise was that the American privateer Glickenhaus 007s ran a spectacular race, with one having to climb up through nearly the whole LMP2 field after a suspension failure to make it back to fourth place.
The fact that Glickenhaus earned a legitimate podium finish, four laps back from winning Toyota, is a massive accomplishment, the first time an American designed and built car has done it since 1969.
The overall win went to the No. 8 Toyota with Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa sharing driving duties.
“It was a great responsibility, but also a great feeling to take the qualifying, take the pole position and also take the race finish, I think it’s the first time I’ve done that,” Toyota Gazoo’s Hartley said. “Yeah, I was overwhelmed with emotions when I crossed the line. The whole race you try not to think about the finish. We’ve seen all what can happen on the last laps even in the last couple of years, four or five years ago with Toyota. So, really crossing that line, all the emotions come out.”
Buemi was equally choked up after the overall win.
“It’s hard for me to speak right now,” Buemi said. “It’s an amazing feeling, especially with Ryō and Brendon. It’s the second one with Brendon, but Ryō joined us this year, so to be able to win it the first time we race together is amazing. He’s done an amazing job and I’ d like to praise him very much for the job he’s done.
“Obviously, the team, our crew have done a fantastic job as well. And we did the job as well in the car, we didn’t do any mistakes, we did not damage the car so it’s an amazing feeling and it’s going to take a little bit of time until it sinks in, you know. It’s hard to realize what we achieved today.”
Hirakawa became the fifth Japanese driver to win the 24 Hours.
“To join this legend, to be honest, I still cannot believe we realized my dream,” Hirakawa said. “Yeah, my dream came true. I hope there is more to come to catch up to these legends.”
Jota’s No. 38 car dominated LMP2 near the end and won a deserved class victory and fifth overall ahead of the No. 9 Prema Orlen car and the No. 28 Jota teammate in third. The No. 5 Penske car, entered largely to gain Le Mans experience, often ran in the top three and in the end settled for a top-10 position. Josh Pierson, the 16-year-old hoping to become the youngest driver in Le Mans history, finished sixth in class in the number 23 United Autosports entry.
In LM GTE Pro, the two Corvettes qualified on top and led through the first quarter until mechanical disaster struck. In the end, Porsche and two Ferraris would make up the podium, with the No. 91 Porsche on the top step. The Corvettes would finish in last and next to last place in the class. In fifth was the American Bee Safe Ferrari entry, led by veteran Bill Riley.
No. 33 TF Sport, with American journeyman driver Ben Keating in an Aston Martin, took the title in LM GTE Am with steady performance and excellent pit strategy. Second was the No. 79 American WeatherTech Porsche led by Cooper MacNeil, which led much of the race in class. Both finished on the same lap.
It was a comparatively uneventful race, with the obligatory crashes but none that serious, commendable considering the fact that there were 50 rookies in the field of 186 drivers. The two Toyotas covered 380 laps, not a record but not far from it.
Keating Finally Gets His Trophy
In his eighth trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Texas car dealer Ben Keating finally has a class win to his credit, with a solid victory in the LM GTE Am class. Keating came very close several years ago by winning the class in his personally owned Ford GT, only to have the win stripped from him due to several relatively minor technical infractions. It was the Ford GT’s last year racing at Le Mans, and the cars were very carefully scrutinized post-race.
After last year’s second place, TF Sport went one better by taking the LMGTE Am title in the No. 33 Aston Martin Vantage AMR. Keating, invited as the winner of the IMSA Jim Trueman Award, finally has his title at Le Mans after winning in the LMP2 class at the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.
It was also a first Le Mans win for Dane Marco Sørensen (third in 2020 with Aston Martin Racing) and Portuguese rookie Henrique Chaves. They were followed home by long-time race leader, the No. 79 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of WeatherTech Racing (Cooper MacNeil/Julien Andlauer/Thomas Merrill), and the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Northwest AMR (Paul Dalla Lana/David Pittard/Nicki Thiim).
90th 24 Hours of Le Mans
Finishing order by class
- No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing (Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa), 380 laps
- No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing (Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez), +2:01.22
- No. 709 Glickenhaus Racing (Ryan Briscoe, Franck Mailleux, Richard Westbrook), +5 laps
- No. 708 Glickenhaus Racing (Pipo Dirani, Romain Dumas, Olivier Pla), +10 laps
- No. 36 Alpine Elf Team (Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao, Matthieu Vaxiviere),+18 laps
- No. 38 IOTA (Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez, Will Stevens)
- No. 9 Prema Orlen Team (Lorenzo Colombo, Luis Deletraz, Robert Kubica)
- No. 28 IOTA (Jonathan Aberdein, Ed Jones, Oliver Rasmussen)
- No. 13 TDS Racing X Vaillante (Mathias Beche, Tijmen van der Helm, Nyck de Vries)
- No. 5 Team Penske (Dane Cameron, Emmanuel Collard, Felipe Nasr)
- No. 23 United Autosports USA (Oliver James, Alex Lynn, Josh Pierson)
- No. 37 Cool Racing (Niklas Krutten, Ricky Taylor, Ye Yifei)
- No. 48 IDEC Sport (Paul-Loup Chatin, Paul Lafargue, Patrick Pilet)
- No. 1 Richard Mille Racing Team (Charles Milesi, Sebastien Ogier, Lilou Waddoux)
- No. 22 United Autosports USA (Felipe Albuquerque, Philip Hanson, Will Owen)
- No. 32 Team WRT (Rolf Ineichen, Laurens Vanthoor, Mirko Bortolotti)
- No. 65 Panis Racing (Julien Canal, Nico Jamin, Job van Uitert)
- No. 34 Inter Europol Competition (Alex Brundle, Esteban Gutierrez, Jakub Smiechowski)
- No. 43 Inter Europol Competition (Pietro Fittipaldi, David Heinemeier-Hanssen, Fabio Scherer
- No. 45 Algarve Pro Racing (James Allen, Rene Binder, Steven Thomas)
- No. 24 Nielsen Racing (Matt Bell, Ben Hanley, Rodrigo Sales)
- No. 41 RealTeam by WRT (Rui Andrade, Ferdinand Habsburg, Norman Nato)
- No. 3DKR Engineering (Alexandre Cougnaud, Jean Glorieux, Laurents Horr)
- No. 83 AF Corse Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera)
- No. 47 Algrave Pro Racing (Jack Aitken, John Falb, Sophia Florsh)
- No 44 ARC Bratislava (Tristan Vautier, Miro Konopka, Bent Viscaal)
- No. 10 Vector Sports (Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Cullen, Nico Mueller)
- No. 39 Graff Racing (David Droux, Sebastien Page, Eric Trouillet)
- No. 35 Ultimate (Francois Heriau, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, Matthieu Lahaye)
- No. 27 CD Sport (Christophe Cresp, Michael Jansen, Steven Palette)
- No. 30 Duqueine Team (Richard Bradley, Reshad de Gerus, Memo Rojas)
- No. 31 Team WRT (Robin Frins, Sean Gelael, Rene Rast)
- No. 91 Porsche GT Team (Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki)
- No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari (James Calado Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra)
- No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari (Antonio Fucco, Miguel Molina, David Rigon)
- No. 92 Porsche GT Team (Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor)
- No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ferrari (Sam Bird, Felipe Fraga, Shane van Gisbergen)
- No. 64 Corvette Racing (Tommy Milner, Alexander Sims, Nick Tandy)
- No. 63 Corvette Racing (Nicky Catsburg, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor)
- No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin (Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves, Marco Sorensen)
- No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche (Julien Andlauer, Cooper MacNeil, Thomas Merrill)
- No. 98 Northwest AMR Aston Martin (Paul Della Lana, David Pittard, Nicki Thiim)
- No. 86 GR Racing Porche (Ben Parker, Ricardo Pera, Michael Wainwright)
- No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche (Jan Heylen Fred Poordad, Maxwell Root)
- No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari (Nick Cassidy, Francesco Castellacci, Thomas Flohr)
- No. 85 Iron Dames Ferrari (Sarah Bovy, Rachel Frey, Michelle Gatting)
- No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari (Simon Mann, Christoph Ulrich, Toni Vilander)
- No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari (Vincent Abril, Conrad Grunewald, Louis Prette)
- No. 55 Spirit of Race Ferrari (Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, David Perel)
- No. 99 Hardpoint Motorsport Porsche (Andrew Hayanto, Alessio Picariello Martin Rump)
- No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari (Mikkel Jensen, Takeshi Kimura, Frederik Schandorff)
- No. 80 Iron Lynx Ferrari (Matteo Cressoni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Richard Heistand)
- No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche (Sebastian Priaulx, Christian Reed, Harry Tincknell)
- No 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari (Jason Hart, Mark Kvamme, Renger van der Zande)
- No. 93 Proton Competition Porsche (Matt Campbell, Michael Fassbender, Zacharie Robichon)
- No. 75 Iron Lynx Ferrari (Pierre Ehrlich, Christian Hook, Nicolas Varrone)
- No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari (Alessandro Balzan, Raffaele Giammaria, Claudio Schiavoni)
- No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche (Ben Barnicoat, Brendan Iribe, Ollie Millroy)
- No. 59 Inception Racing Ferrari (Marvin Klein, Come Ledogar, Alexander West)
- No. 71 Spirit of Race Ferrari (Gabriel Aubry, Franck Dezoteux, Pierre Ragues)
- No. 777 D’Station Racing Aston Martin (Charlie Fagg, Tomonobu Fuji, Satoshi Hoshino)
- No. 46 Team Project 1 Porsche (Matteo Cairoli, Nicolas Leutwiler, Mikkel O. Pedersen)
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