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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Le Mans 24 Hours 2015

A train of GT, LM P1 and LM P2 cars race through the Esses during the 2015 Le Mans 24 hours.
Nico Hulkenberg
This was my first Le Mans 24 hours.  I doubt that it will be my last!  I was very happy to see Porsche win their first victory since 1998 and as a GP fan it was good to see Niko Hulkenberg race at Le Mans and win.   The speed of the cars really impressed me - I spend too much time with the historic stuff!

Below are all of the cars that took part in the race and completed at least 15 laps, in the order they were classified.  Enjoy the photos and hopefully they are proof that you can take reasonable photos from the public areas at Le Mans with, dare I say it, a compact camera (Panasonic Lumix).

The race itself proved to be a good battle between Porsche and Audi with Toyota waiting in the wings should these two protagonists fail.   Porsche showed great pace in qualifying but in the race Audi were much closer.   Jani and Bernhard in the Portsche led early on but then Lotterer's Audi took the lead until slowed by a puncture.  This put Hartley's Porsche in the lead.  After a safety car period, Hulkenberg overtook Rast and then Webber to take the lead.  Webber's bid for victory was further hindered when he received a stop go penalty for passing under the yellow flag.   Meanwhile Lotterer had recovered to take second place and was still challenging the Porsches until he made a contact with the lead Porsche in a slow zone and thus got a penalty.   The third Audi started to suffer from Hybrid problems which eventually let Toyota into sixth place.  Lotterer continued to fight back but Porsche eventually won by two laps after 24 hours.

1st.  Porsche Team - LM P1- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Earl Bamber, Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy.
The winning Porsche.  Great to see a Brit, Nick Tandy, contribute so much to the victory with his consistently fast pace.  I also must admit to being a bit of a Nico Hulkenberg fan and I was really pleased to see a F1 driver compete in something different.  Photo taken at Tertre Touge - really pleased with this one!
The crowds get ready to celebrate a Porsche victory.
2nd. Porsche Team - LM P1-Porsche 919 Hybrid- Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber
The second place Porsche at the Esses.  Nice to see Mark Webber get second place.
It was pleasant to enjoy some of the early dices from the comfort of the hospitality suite.
3rd. Audi Sport Team Joest - LM P1 - Audi R18 e-tron quattro - Marcel Fassler, André Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer.
Leading Audi at the Esses.  Bad luck to the drivers to be in the best placed Audi and not win after 13 wins in recent years.
There was excellent TV coverage if you couldn't get trackside.
4th. Audi Sport Team Joest - LM P1 - Audi R18 e-tron quattro - Lucas Di Grassi, Loïc Duval, Oliver Jarvis.
The number two Audi bumping over the kerbs at the Ford Chicane on the Sunday morning.
Le Mans pits and Grandstands at night
5th. Porsche Team - LM P1-Porsche 919 Hybrid- Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb.
The fifth placed Porsche at the Esses.
Neel Jani take the lead in the No.18 Porsche at the start in front of the packed grandstands.
6th. Toyota Gazoo Racing - LM P1 - Toyota TS040 Hybrid - Mike Conway, Stephan Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz.
The lead Toyota at Tertre Rouge.  The Toyotas were OK but did not have the pace of the Porsches or Audis.
At night all you see are the lights of the cars going by.
7th. Audi Sport Team Joest - LM P1 - Audi R18 e-tron quattro - Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi, René Rast.
The number 9 Audi was in third place when I took this picture on Sunday morning as it entered the Start/Finish straight.  However, it fell back with problems in its hybrid system.
The fairground kept entertaining those less interested in the racing.
8th. Toyota Gazoo Racing - LM P1 -Toyota TS040 Hybrid - Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima.
The other Toyota at the Esses.  Toyota were World Champions last year and must be disappointed to be not challenging at Le Mans this year.
The LM P2 class eventually proved to be closer than the LM P1 class with three cars finishing on the same lap.  KCMG were always ahead but a numer of incidents eventually brought the other cars back into contention.  We were spectating at Arnage when the KCMG car missed its braking and went straight on and their had been an earlier incident at Indianapolis when something similar happened.  But they triumphed in the end.  Jota Sport overtook G Drive to take second place towards the end of the race.

9th. KCMG - LM P2 - Oreca 05 Nissan - Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson, Nicolas Lapierre.
Th KCMG Oreca dominated the LM P2 class despite a few scares.  This is the car at Tertre Rouge on Saturday afternoon.  The team is from Hong Kong.
The marshals at Arnage hard at work.  The KCMG car needed their help soon after this.
10th. Jota Sport - LM P2 - Gibson 015S Nissan - Simon Dolan, Mitch Evans, Oliver Turvey.
The Jota car running over the kerbs at the chicane on Sunday morning.  They did very well to finish on the same lap as the winners of the LM P2 class.
Apparently you can get some great views from the big wheel - another year perhaps.
11th. G-Drive Racing - LM P2 - Ligier JS P2 Nissan - Sam Bird, Julien Canal, Roman Rusinov.
The 3rd placed LM P2 car negotiating the Playstation chicane on the Mulsanne straight.  It also finished on the same lap as the winning car in the class.
Cars flash by the fairground at night.
12th. G-Drive Racing - LM P2 - Ligier JS P2 Nissan -Luis Felipe Derani, Ricardo Gonzalez, Gustavo Yacaman.
The other G Drive car finished a few laps further back.  Here it is at Tertre Rouge.
The marshals concentrate on their job as we concentrate on the action.
13th. Murphy Protoypes - LM P2 - Oreca 03R Nissan - Nathanael Berthon, Karun Chandhok, Mark Patterson.
One of the nicer looking cars was this Oreca seen here at the Esses.
14th. SMP Racing - LM P2 - BR01 Nissan - David Markozov, Maurizio Mediani, Nicolas Minassian.
The SMP car being prepared in the pits prior to the race.
It was brilliant to be able to do the pit walk but it was somewhat crowed!
15th. Extreme Speed Motorsports - Ligier JS P2 HPD - Ed Brown, Jon Fogarty, Johannes van Overbeek.
This US team did well to get to the finish in their first year.  Here they are at the Esses.
16th. Ibanez Racing - LM P2 - Oreca 03R Nissan - Ivan Bellarosa, Jose Ibanez, Pierre Perret.
The Ibanez Racing Oreca at Tertre Rouge.
Although the Corvette had led early on, a Ferrari then took over after the Corvette was stuck in the pit lane during the safety car period.  The Aston Martins were also involved in this close battle. Once the Ferrari and Astons then hit trouble, the Chevrolet Corvette eventually had a relatively easy victory in the GTE Pro class beating the AF Corse Ferraris by 5 laps.

17th. Corvette Racing - GTE Pro - Chevrolet Corvette C7R - Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Jordan Taylor.
The Corvette team added the Le Mans class win to the class wins it has already this year at Daytona and Sebring.  The team did well to come back after Jan Magnussen eliminated the other car in practice. 
18th. Rebellion Racing - LM P1 - Rebellion R One AER - Daniel Abt, Alexandre Imperatori, Dominik Kraihamer.
The Rebellion is actually an Oreca chassis with an AER V6 twin turbo engine.  Running in the LM P1 class it was beaten even by the best GT car but it was the debut for the car.
19th. Pegasus Racing Team Total - LM P2 - Morgan LM P2 Nissan - David Cheng, Leo Roussel, Ho-Pin Tung.
The Pegasus team make a pit stop during the night below the Total hospitality suite.
The Pegasus team watch their screen as the night begins.
The GTE Am class looked like it was going to go to Aston Martin but within the last hour pedro Lamy crashed the car at the Ford Chicane.  This let the SMP Racing Ferrari win from Patrick Dempsey's Porsche.

20th. SMP Racing - GTE Am - Ferrari 458 Italia - Aleksey Basov, Andrea Bertolini, Vicktor Shaytar.
Seen here whilst running second on Sunday morning the Ferrari gained from the misfortune of the Aston Martin crashing out to win its class.
21st. AF Corse - GTE Pro - Ferrari 458 Italia - Olivier Beretta, James Calado, Davide Rigon.
Beautiful AF Corse Ferrari negotiating Tertre Rouge.  It finished second in class.
22nd. Dempsey Proton Racing - GTE Am - Porsche 911 RSR - Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long, Marco Seefried.
Seen here leading another Porsche, the Dempsey car was the one the girls wanted to see.  It was also a serious entry and finished second in its class.
The Patrick Dempsey car exits a pit stop during the night, with cameras on it as is normal for the star of Grey's Anatomy.
23rd. Rebellion Racing - LM P1 - Rebellion R one AER - Mathias Beche, Nick Heidfied, Nicolas Prost.
Getting ready for the race.  Drivers included former GP driver Nick Heidfeld and Alain Prost's son Nicolas.  They at least finished.
24th.  Scuderia Corsa - GTE Am - Ferrari 458 Italia - Townsend Bell, Jeffrey Segal, William Sweedler.
The 62 Ferrari at the first of the Mulsanne chicanes.
25th. AF Corse - GTE Pro - Ferrari 458 Italia - Gianmarla Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander.
Another ex-GP star was in this car - Giancarlo Fisichella.  The car finished third in its class.
A GTE Ferrari leads the Gibson and a Ligier through the Dunlop curves.
26th. AF Corse - GTE Am - Ferrari 458 Italia - Rui Aguas, Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo.
Well known French driver Emmanuel Collard was in this Ferrari but they could only manage fourth in class.
Collard's Ferrari leading Webber's Porsche out of the Esses.
27th. Aston Martin Racing - GTE Pro - Aston Martin Vantage V8 - Christoffer Nygaard, Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thim.
The many Danish fans cheered on the 3 Danish drivers who were in the first Aston Martin to finish.
28th. Extreme Motor Sports - LM P2 - Ligier JS P2 HPD - Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier Hansson, Scott Sharp.
This USA entered car was making its first entry at Le Mans and made it to the finish.
There was a lot of work going on constantly behind the scenes that most of us didn't see.
29th. OAK Racing - LM P2 - Ligier JS P2 Nissan - Eric Maris, Jean-Marc Merlin, Jacques Nicolet.
This French team finished just outside the top ten in LM P2.
30th. Porsche Team Manthey - GTE Pro - Porsche 911 RSR - Jorg Bergmeister, Michael Christensen, Richard Lietz.
This well turned out Porsche came fifth in its class.
31st. AF Corse - GTE Am - Ferrari 458 Italia - Matteo Cressoni, Raffaele Giammaria, Peter Ashley Mann.
Ferrari No.61 seen here before the start.  All three drivers recorded their first Le Mans finish.
32nd. Krohn Racing - LM P2 - Ligier JS P2 Judd - Joao Barbosa, Niclas Jonsson, Tracy Krohn.
The Krohn team moved up from GT to LM P2 this year with their distinctive green and blue colours.
The Krohn Ligier approaching the end of a lap at night.
33rd. SMP Racing - LM P2 - BRO1 Nissan - Mikhail Aleshin, Anton Ladygin, Kyrill Ladygin.
This Russian entry is pushed out onto the grid.
What the crowds really see!  The famous Dunlop Bridge in the background as the SMP car leads a small group.
34th. Aston Martin Racing - GTE Pro - Aston Martin Vantage V8 - Alex MacDowall, Fernando Rees, Richie Stanaway.
The No.99 car gets wheeled down the pit lane to the grid...
....where its grid girl awaits it.
35th. Team AAI - GTE Am - Porsche 911 RSR - Han Chen Chen, Gilles Vannelet, Mike Parisy.
A Taiwanese team based in Belgium ran this Porsche.
36th. JMW Motorsport - GTE Am - Ferrari 458 Italia - Aboulaziz Turki Al Faisal, Michael Avenatti, Jakub Giermaziak.
The final Ferrari to finish bumps over the kerbs on Sunday morning.
The 66 Ferrari leading a bunch of cars into the Esses.
37th. Team AAI - GTE Am - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 997 - Junsan Chen, Alex Kapadia, Xavier Maasen.
This car was the final classified finisher in the race.  Here it is seen refuelling just before the start.
NC. Aston Martin Racing - GTE Am - Aston Martin Vantage V8 - Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda.
This car led its class for many laps before crashing out at the Ford Chicane.  It had a strong driving team including ex-GP driver Pedro Lamy and Niki Lauda's son, Mathias.
The 98 Aston Martin was leading its class as dusk was falling and is here followed by another high placed Aston that failed to finish.
NC. Nissan Motor Sports - LM P1 - Nissan GT R LM Nismo - Alex Buncombe, Michael Krumm, Harry Tinknell.
At least one of the Nissans was still running at the finish although with only 242 laps to the winner's 395 it was not classified.  Still quite an achievement for such a revolutionary car which had front engine and front wheel drive.  It lacked power as it was able to use its hybrid engine and this led to brake issues.
DNF.  OAK Racing - LM P2 - Ligier JS P2 HPD - Chris Cumming, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor.
The Evident sponsored OAK Racing Ligier leading the G Drive car into the Esses early in the race.
DNF - Riley Motorsports TI Auto - GTE Am - SRT Viper GTS R - Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Marc Miller.
I had always wanted to see a Viper race so I was pleased when it moved off the reserve list to actually race.  Beautiful car but shame it didn't get to the finish.
DNF.  Strakka Racing - LM P2 - Dome S103 Nissan - John Kane, Nick Leventis, Danny Watts.
This car was making its Le Mans debut so it was a lot to expect a finish first time out.
The Strakka Team had a well practised way of grabbing some attention!
DNF.  AF Corse - GTE Am - Ferrari 458 Italia - Duncan Russel Cameron, Matt Griffin, Alex Mortimer.
The AF Corse team practise a pit stop prior to the race.  This car had three British drivers well known in British GT racing.
DNF.  Nissan Motorsports - LM P1 - Nissan GT R LM Nismo - Max Chilton, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla.
This was the second Nissan to fail after gearbox failure at the Porsche Curves after 234 laps - a brave effort.  Drivers included recent F1 driver Max Chilton and a graduate from the Playstation Championship Jann Mardenborough.   At the start of the race it didn't join the track until a few laps whilst a clutch repair took place.
DNF.  Thiriet by TDS Racing - LM P2 - Oreca 05 Nissan - Ludovic Badey, Tristan Gommendy, Pierre Thiriet.
The Thiriet Oreca is seen here following the SMP Racing car out of the Esses.
DNF.   Astom Martin Racing - GTE Am - Aston Martin Vantage V8 - Francesco Castellacci, Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall.
This was a strong entry in GTE Am class and is seen here just before dusk at the Dunlop Curves (photo taken from the Nissan hospitality suite).  They were eliminated after an incident with the winning Porsche whilst being lapped.
DNF.  Team SARD Morand - LM P2 - Morgan Evo SARD - Zoel Amberg, Pierre Ragues, Oliver Webb.
A shame to see this strong Swiss team retire after 162 laps.  Here they are at Tertre Rouge on Saturday afternoon.
DNF.  Nissan Motorsports - LM P1 - Nissan GT R LM Nismo - Tsugio Matsuda, Lucas Ordonez, Mark Shulzhitskiy.
This was the first Nissan to retire after 115 laps.  A very unusual racing car!
DNF.  Signatech Alpine - LM P2 - Alpine A450b Nissan - Vincent Capillaire, Paul-Loup Chatin, Nelson Panciatici.
After the Porsches this was my favourite car in the race.  A real shame it crashed after 110 laps,
The Signatech Alpine Team practice refuelling prior to the race.
DNF.  Aston Martin Racing Team - GTE Pro - Aston Martin Vantage V8 - Robert Bell, Stephan Mucke, Darren Turner.
This psychedelically painted Aston was well placed in its class until it retired after 110 laps.
DNF.  Larbre Competition - GTE Am - Chevrolet Corvette C7R - Kristian Poulsen, Gianluca Roda, Paulo Ruberti.
The Larbre Corvette entering Tertre Rouge.  It retired after 94 laps.
DNF.  Greaves Motorsport - LM P2 - Gibson 015S Nissan - Gary Hirsch, Jon Lancaster, Bjorn Wirdheim.
This nice looking car survived until the 72nd lap.
DNF.  Abu Dhabi Proton Racing - GTE Am - Porsche 911 RSR - Khaled Al Qubaisi, Klaus Bachler, Christian Ried.
The Christian Reid Porsche was unfortunate to be the second car to retire.
DNF.  Porsche Team Manthey - GTE Pro - Porsche 911 RSR - Wolf Henzler, Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet.   This car was retired after just 14 laps and before I had taken a photo of it.  It spun on its own oil at the Mulsaanne chicane and then the oil caught fire and caused the car to stop permanently.   A similar liveried car to the No.91 Porsche that finished 30th except it didn't have the red wing mirrors.

DISQ.  ByKolles Racing - LM P1 - CLM P1 01 AER - Pierre Kaffler, Tiago Monteiro, Simon Trummer.
Previously known as Team Lotus this car out-qualified the works Nissans but was eventually disqualified due to a technical infringement. It completed 260 laps.
Thanks to Gareth for organising such a great weekend and being such good company.  Thanks also to Total and Nissan for the hospitality.  You all made my first Le Mans something special.

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