After another 24 gruelling hours of racing and 385 laps around Circuit de la Sarthe, the 87th edition of the 24Hours of Le Mans and the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship came to an end. The overall WEC championship has been dominated by Toyota Gazoo Racing with a 1-2, for the #8 and #7 drivers respectively.
If you don’t know much about WEC, like me, check out this story first: A Noob’s Guide to the 24h of Le Mans
It is Toyota’s #8 car that won the race second time running and has the icon-packed driver line-up of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. It was Nakajima at the wheel when they crossed the chequered flag. However, it was the team’s other entrant, the #7 car that seemed likely to win 23 hours into the race. Unfortunately, a problem with the tyre pressure monitoring sensors led to a punctured tyre going unnoticed and the team having to do a slow lap before coming into the pits for a fresh set of rubber. That was when it was passed by its sister car which went onto win.
The #7 car that started from pole position went onto take second place overall for the second time in a row. It was an unfortunate circumstance despite the stellar performance from Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez at the helm. Or was it luck at all? Some cynics offer the opinion that the #7 was forced to finish behind the star-studded cast of the #8 car and the puncture excuse was just a ruse. These theories do not change the outcome of course and so Toyota’s #8 won and #7 came second.
Third place overall was secured by SMP Racing’s #11 car driven by Stoffel Vandoorne, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. This is the Russian team’s best overall result at Le Mans till date. It uses a Dallara chassis and the car is developed by BR Engineering.
Moving onto the class-wise podium finishers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2019, the LMP2 winners are the Signatech Alpine Matmut racing team. Their one and only entrant, the #36 car was driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet for the team’s second consecutive class victory at Le Mans. With this race win, the Alpine team are also the winners of the LMP2 2018-19 team championship. Behind them was Jackie Chan DC Racing’s #38 car driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richlemi and Gabriel Aubry. Third place in the LMP2 prototype class was secured by car #28 of TDS Racing. The drivers to make it to the 2019 Le Mans LMP2’s final podium step are the French trio of Francois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Loic Duval.
The LM GTE cars may be slower but they’re definitely more exciting to petrolheads since most of the entrants are quite recognizable by their road-going avatars. It is also split into two – the PRO and the AM class depending on the experience levels of the drivers. As you’d expect, the GTE PRO is where most of the factory teams compete for bragging rights in the automotive world. This year there were 17 entries in this class.
The GTE PRO winners in this 24H of Le Mans are AF Corse Ferrari with the #51 488 GTE EVO racecar. Behind the drive to victory were Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra. This result is even more impressive considering how far back they were in qualifying. The Porsche GT team took second and third in the GTE PRO class with their 911 RSRs. Finishing second was the #91 car driven by Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni and Frederic Makowiecki. The final podium place was claimed by the efforts of Patrick Pilet, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy at the helm of the #93 car.
This was Ford’s final year competing at Le Mans (as of now). The Ford Chip Ganassi Team had entered four GTs in four different classic liveries. However, none of them made it to this year’s podium and finished P4 (#68), P5 (#67), P6 (#69) and P7 (#66).
Update: The #68 car has been disqualified for breaching a rule about fuel tank capacity regulations. Due to the Balance of Performance changes made on June 10, the capacity was limited to 97 litres and the #68 fuel cell was found to have a capacity of 97.83 litres. Note that racing fuel cells are not the same as regular fuel tanks and their shape and volume can alter, hence need for margins.
The best result for a manufacturer other than these three was P9 by Corvette Racing’s Chevy Corvette C7.R #63 and their #64 car was the first retiree after being taken out by a GTE AM racer. BMW’s Team MTEK racing the M8 GTE couldn’t do better than P11 (#82) and their other car (#81) finished P14/last in class. Aston Martin had a bit of a disastrous Le Mans race this year with P13 in class for the #97 Vantage AMR and the other car retired after just 132 laps.
The winners of the GT Manufacturers WEC 2018-19 are Porsche, by a huge margin over runner-up Ferrari.
Finally, we have the GTE AM class results in which a Ford GT came out victorious. The #85 Ford GT of Keating Motorsports took the win with Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga behind the wheel. In second place was the #56 Porsche 911 RSR of Team Project 1 driven by Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti. The final podium position was clinched by JMW Motorsport’s #84 Ferrari 488 GTE that was driven by Jeffery Segal, Rodrigo Baptista and Wei Lu.
Update: The #85 Ford GT has also been disqualified for exceeding maximum fuel capacity by 0.1 liter and not meeting the minimum refuelling time by 0.6-seconds. The team is not appealing the FIA ruling, saying that this was a mistake of being too close to the limit and not leaving enough margin for errors. In my opinion, these infringements did not give them a definitive edge, but rules are rules. That being said, they crossed the line first, so in my eyes, they won and deserve to be referred to as winners.
On a side note, the all-female driver lineup for Kessel Racing’s #85 Ferrari GTE finished 10th in the GTE AM class and was P41 overall out of 61 total entries. The racers at the helm were Manuela Gostner, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting.
The 2018-19 WEC winners in the GTE AM team championship are Team Project 1.
This 24 Hours of Le Mans was the super finale for the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship. After 8 rounds of racing across 6 different circuits, the season has come to an end. The racing action will resume at the start of the 2019-20 season in September according to the provisional schedule. Included in that is the return of two iconic venues to the WEC — Bahrain and Brazil.
Here are a few more amazing snaps from the 24h of Le Mans 2019 taken from WEC and LeMans’ official media sites:
Thanks for checking out the first-ever WEC race result story on the Auto Loons. What better to do it than with the season finale 24 Hours of Le Mans, eh? Do let me know your thoughts on the race, the championship and any other feedback in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for the latest updates on our newest content.
*Updated on 18 June’ 19.