Porsche And Toyota Create Le Mans History

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons /

The 24 Hours of Le Mans has been run and won for another year, with Porsche taking overall honours ahead of Toyota and Audi. But what will really be remembered from 2016?

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With the 24 Hours of Le Mans turning 84 this year there’s little doubt that in its lifetime it has seen its fair share of incredible moments.

There was English racing driver Edward Ramsden Hall completing Le Mans solo in 1950; the Ford GT40’s dominance throughout the 1960s; Jean Rondeau winning with a car he built himself in 1980; or Mark Webber’s flying Mercedes in 1999 – just to name a few.

Now an addition to the list is needed: the Porsche/Toyota battle of 2016.

Some would say Le Mans saved the best for last as even after a day full of racing the most excitement came with the No. 2 Porsche pipping the No. 5 Toyota in the final lap.

It wasn’t a driver error but a cruel stroke of bad luck – the No. 5 hit mechanical issues in the closing minutes of the race which allowed the No. 2 driven by Neel Jani to overtake the limping Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima.

Though Nakajima was able to get his expiring car across the finish line, the No. 5 was then disqualified because it took him 11 minutes and 53 seconds to do so, exceeding the maximum six-minute lap time set in the Le Mans regulations.

Given Toyota’s performance throughout the race, its loss and subsequent disqualification will be a hard pill to swallow.

For the majority of the race Toyota had been firmly in control, with the only serious threat to the team’s Le Mans victory coming in the form of the No. 2.

The No. 1 Porsche hit its own mechanical issues during the night which effectively put it out of race wining contention, with both Audis also suffering similar gremlins though not as severe.

Then the No. 2 made a late-race pit stop that grew the gap between leader and second place to a seemingly unreachable deficit.

But as Le Mans has proven time and time again over its eight decades and counting, anything is possible. And so it was this weekend with Toyota falling just short of that top step on the coveted podium.

Porsche, while ecstatic with the team’s 18th overall Le Mans win, were also gracious in their victory as they applauded the efforts of their rivals.

“I feel sorry for the boys down in the other garage,” Marc Lieb told Reuters. “They deserved this. They were giving us a hard time as well. This race should have had two winners.”

And though understandably shocked and disappointed Toyota have said they will not give up their pursuit for Le Mans glory, vowing to return stronger and more determined to win in 2017.

Amidst both joy and devastation, it’s clear that the passion and desire to win what many regard to be the hardest circuit race in the world is still as strong as ever. The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans certainly left audiences with a finish that they won’t soon forget.

What did you think of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans?