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Hand of history on Hulkenberg's shoulder as he triumphs at Le Mans

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Hand of history on Hulkenberg's shoulder as he triumphs at Le Mans
Jun 14, 2015, 7:24 PM

Back in the 1950s and 1960s F1 drivers regularly competed in the Le Mans 24 hours and other top sportscar races, but Nico Hulkenberg's win with Por...

Back in the 1950s and 1960s F1 drivers regularly competed in the Le Mans 24 hours and other top sportscar races, but Nico Hulkenberg's win with Porsche today, along with his co-drivers New Zealander Earl Bamber and Briton Nick Tandy, was a historic moment for a modern F1 star.

It was the first time for 24 years that an active F1 driver won the 24 hour classic; the last time was in 1991, Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot were with Lotus and Jordan respectively in F1 and won Le Mans for Mazda.

This weekend's winning trio gave Porsche a record 17th Le Mans win and the first this century, with the marque having taking time off from the series for 16 seasons.

It was all the more remarkable for the fact that neither Bamber nor Hulkenberg had any Le Mans experience and Tandy's was limited to the less powerful GT category cars.

"I'm incredibly proud, we wrote history today," said Hulkenberg. "Porsche is back at Le Mans with a big win at its second attempt on its return. A big congratulations to Porsche and everyone involved."

Asked if he expected to win on his debut at Le Mans, the Force India driver added: "No, absolutely not. We couldn't expect such a thing and the Audis were very competitive, but at the end I think we were without trouble.

"The car was very reliable and we didn't do many mistakes, just kept kept rolling and driving on the road - that is what brings us here now [to victory]."

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The race was very much on the radar of most in the F1 ecosystem and of many fans as well and if there are current widespread grumblings about the state of modern F1 and the show it mounts, there was equal and opposite praise for the spectacle of these hybrid turbo cars blasting around Le Mans in day and night and for their speed as well as endurance.

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"This is just another level! Spectacular watching Nico Hulkenberg in his Porsche lead the Le Mans race at night. Brutal speed and excitement!," tweeted Hulkenberg's Force India team boss Vijay Mallya, who released the German to race on condition that he was allowed to come and watch and place a motorhome next to Hulkenberg's at Le Mans.

"My first time at Le Mans. Awesome. Overwhelming," he added.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 19.14.13

Hulkenberg raced in Montreal last weekend and was taking part in practice and qualifying 48 hours later at Le Mans. Next weekend he will race at at Red Bull Ring for Force India. It is to be hoped that this breakthrough leads other teams to release drivers to race Le Mans to reunite the two codes and to drive the sport to new levels.

The coming few years look very exciting indeed for the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans, with strong manufacturers coming to take part.

Multiple safety car interventions helped to keep the race at the front close; Mark Webber, whose Porsche finished second, was competing for the lead when the car was slapped with a one minute stop go penalty for passing another car under yellow flags at night. As he took the penalty, then took a pit stop the following lap, it was a moment that saw the #17 car slip back from its sister #19 car, the eventual winner. Audi, the pre-race favourites, came in third with Toyota off the pace this weekend.

What do you think of Hulkenberg's achievement? Did you watch the race? What did you think? Leave comments below
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Nico Hulkenberg Shop Now