Le Mans 2016 – a dramatic finish
In 2016, the 24 Hours of Le Mans delivered its most dramatic finish ever. Porsche emerged victorious after a Toyota retired from the lead five minutes before the end.
None of the 263,000 in attendance could have predicted the sheer drama that unfolded in the closing stages of the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of the fastest Le Mans races of all time appeared to be decided when the Porsche featuring the start number 2 sustained a slow puncture and had to make a pit stop with around 10 minutes to go, seemingly bringing an end to its pursuit of the leading Toyota. However, a technical fault then brought the Japanese car to a halt with five minutes of the 24 hours remaining. Despite the best efforts of the driver, the car was unable to return to the pits and was eliminated from the final classification. For the Porsche team, astonishment quickly gave way to wild celebrations as the 919 Hybrid with the start number 2 took the lead at the start of the final lap and held on to win the race. The trio of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Mark Lieb had successfully steered their 900-horsepower prototype to victory in the world’s premier endurance event.
After 24 hours, they had covered a distance of 5,233 kilometres over the course of 384 laps. Le Mans celebrated Porsche’s 18th overall victory, 46 years after Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood recorded the team’s first win there in the 917.
The Porsche team’s joy was tinged with respect for their rivals. ‘I’m proud of our team, and Toyota deserve our full respect,’ commented Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche AG, as he looked back on the race. ‘What happened in Le Mans was almost incredible. It was a top-drawer contest from the first lap to the last, not only in sporting terms but also technologically.’ LMP1 boss Fritz Enzinger added: ‘It was a brilliant battle. Shortly before the end, we had resigned ourselves to second place – and then suddenly we were celebrating Porsche’s second consecutive overall victory in Le Mans.’