24H du Mans

Le Mans 2017: Michelin’s 20th Le Mans consecutive victory in numbers

Michelin won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the 20th straight year and for the third year in a row in association with Porsche after posting the fastest ever lap of the French circuit with Toyota. 

24H du Mans

Porsche LMP Team hands Michelin its 20th straight Le Mans win!

The 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours saw Michelin extend its uninterrupted winning record in La Sarthe to 20 outright victories since 1998. It was assisted in its quest by the dogged determination of the N°2 Porsche crew (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley) who fought back from an early technical issue to scoop the coveted trophy with an hour to go. Along with the N°8 Toyota, which finished back in ninth spot, the German machine was one of only two LMP1-H prototypes to reach the flag after disaster struck the class’s other three factory entries. Michelin’s successful weekend was compounded by a one-two-three finish in LM GTE Am in association with Ferrari, plus a double podium in LM GTE Pro.

24H du Mans

2016 Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche 919 Hybrid/Michelin victory #2!

Toyota, the world’s number one car manufacturer, came agonisingly close to achieving a goal that has eluded it for so many years: victory at Le Mans, a grail it has been chasing since 1985! A gritty yet focused display by all of its six drivers kept it in contention throughout the 2016 race. Yet a last-minute problem dramatically handed the coveted trophy to the N°2 Porsche/Michelin crew Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani who inherited a surprise win. 

With American cinema star Brad Pitt watching from the grandstands, the final scene of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours was something even Hollywood scriptwriters wouldn’t have dared to suggest.

For everybody at Circuit de la Sarthe, Toyota was about to make history and the N°5 Michelin-equipped TS050-Hybrid seemed to be on the verge of completing the closing laps of the 24-hour race with a comfortable advantage over the chasing N°2 Porsche/Michelin.

The Japanese car’s fuel-efficiency advantage seemed to have given it an edge over the technologically similar Porsche 919 Hybrid/Michelin – winner of last year’s race – and the Pascal Vasselon-led squad also appeared to have built a popular victory on its ability to stay out of big trouble… For 23 hours and 56 minutes, at least.

Indeed, with less than five minutes remaining, the Toyota unexpectedly came to halt on the start/finish line. At first, everybody imagined that the team had misread the clock. It soon transpired, though, that Nakajima – who was at the wheel at the time – had a technical problem. Moments afterwards, we learned that the Japanese driver didn’t have any power.

Amazingly, the N°2 Porsche came round to take the chequered flag in its place.

All of a sudden, there were celebrations in the German team’s garage and utter, total despondency at Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Nakajima eventually managed to muster up enough power to complete one more lap at slow speed, but the car had exceeded the maximum authorised last-lap time when the Japanese driver reappeared in front of the grandstands. He didn’t even qualify for second place, which went instead to the N°6 sister car (+3 laps).

Until that extraordinary conclusion, it looked as though there wouldn’t be an Audi crew on the final podium for the first time since the launch of the German make’s endurance racing programme back in 1999. In extremis, the crew of the N°8 car managed to maintain Audi’s record, though, albeit 12 laps adrift of the winning car. The N°7 Michelin-equipped R18 was fourth (+17 laps).

The 2015 FIA World Endurance Champions Bernhard/Webber/Hartley (N°1 Porsche/Michelin) ended up 38 laps adrift (13th overall) after suffering a complex technical problem.

This was Michelin’s 25th Le Mans victory and its 19th in succession in La Sarthe.

In the different classes, Ford celebrated its return to Le Mans and the 50th anniversary of its landmark one-two-three finish of 1966 with victory in LM GTE Pro with its brand new GT (N°68). Hand/Müller/Bourdais gained the upper-hand over the equally-new N°82 Ferrari 488 GTE/Michelin (2nd, +1m00s) with less than five hours remaining. However, the Italian machine is under the threat of a post-finish punishment for a technical infringement and Ford might end up with the top three places in the class if a penalty is effectively applied.

Whatever the final decision regarding this matter, the Italian make will at least be pleased to have pocketed LM GTE Am honours thanks to the N°62 458 Italia/Michelin of Sweedler/Bell/Segal, which took the class spoils ahead of the N°83 Ferrari/Michelin (+2m54s) and the N°88 Porsche/Michelin (+1 lap).

Last but least, LMP2 was won by the N°36 Signatech-Alpine of Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi.

MOTOGP™

MotoGP: teams head east to Japan

MotoGPTM kicks off the Pacific-Asian leg of the 2017 world championship this weekend with the Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Round 14), the first of three back-to-back races along with Australia and Malaysia. Provisional leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) stand out as the big favourites for this year’s title. 

FIA WRC

Meeke bounces back in Spain for Citroën/Michelin

Citroën Racing’s Kris Meeke stemmed a recent barren spell with an emphatic victory on the 2017 RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España in his Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 WRC. The Ulsterman was followed over the line by M-Sport team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tanak (Ford Fiesta WRC/Michelin) whose efforts took the British outfit a step closer to its first Manufacturers’ crown since 2007. 

MOTOGP™

MotoGP: Honda’s Aragon one-two

The Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón – Round 14 of the 2017 MotoGPTM World Championship – was won by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). 

MOTOGP™

MotoGP: off to Aragon

The Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, Round 14 of the 2017 MotoGPTM World Championship, takes teams to Spain this weekend. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) are provisionally level at the top of the Riders’ standings.  

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