Le Mans lead battle was predicted to go to final lap

The top two teams in the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours initially believed their battle for victory was going to be resolved on the final lap of the race.

Porsche salvaged victory in a race of attrition for the LMP1 cars, taking the overall lead from the LMP2 #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca in the 23rd hour.

But when the #2 919 Hybrid rejoined the race after lengthy repairs on Saturday, calculations made by both Porsche and the #38 team predicted that they would be battling each other on the final lap.

“It was really tight," said Brendon Hartley from the winning Porsche crew. “From the calculations we made it was going to come down to the last lap.

“The pace that they predicted, we were looking at not passing all of the LMP2s, so the plan was just to push as hard as we could for the remaining 18 or 19 hours.

“Before I hopped back into the car they were not even expecting us to be fighting for the podium.

“Maybe the P2s ran into some problems – my three stints are potentially some of the best I’ve done, I really attacked as hard as I could.”

Ex-Audi driver Oliver Jarvis, who dropped down to the LMP2 class with the #38 team for this year, said losing the lead earlier than initially predicted made it easier to accept.

“It was special to lead the race, I don’t think that had ever been done in an LMP2 car,” he said.

“I don’t think we let ourselves really believe we could win it outright, so we didn’t have that disappointment.

“Initial predictions were that it was going to be a last lap job. If we’d lost it on the last lap, that would have seriously hurt.

“The fact that in the end it was more than four or five minutes [in it], it’s easier to take."

“As soon as I got out of the car with three hours to go, I knew it wasn’t a possibility unless they had an issue – they’re 13 seconds a lap quicker.”

Pushing for overall win "foolish"

Jarvis also said it would have been wrong for the team to risk its class victory and overall podium finish to try to push flat out to hang onto the lead.

“That would have been an error,” he added. “If we’d gone off pushing for the outright victory, we’d have been foolish.

“We were pushing, but we were trying to stay off the kerbs, look after the gearbox. It was out of our hands – the pace they had, we can’t match that.”

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Track Circuit de la Sarthe
Drivers Oliver Jarvis , Brendon Hartley
Article type Breaking news