At Le Mans 24 Hours in France Porsche takes advantage of Toyota woes | News | DW | 18.06.2017
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At Le Mans 24 Hours in France Porsche takes advantage of Toyota woes

Porsche won its 19th 24 Hours of Le Mans race as Toyota's hopes of claiming a maiden win in the event went up in smoke. Timo Bernhard steered the German carmaker to the win.

Porsche's win on Sunday capped off a gripping night in the 85th edition of the 24-hour endurance classic.

A series of mishaps to pre-race favorites Porsche and Toyota left the LMP2 category Oreca in the lead with 19-year-old Frenchman Thomas Laurent behind the wheel with three hours left in the race. But 36-year-olld Bernhard, in a Porsche 919, passed the Oreca with just one hour left.

Earlier in the race, defending champions Porsche had been an hour behind the leading number seven Toyota at midnight on the Circuit de la Sarthe south west of Paris. 

Former winner Nick Tandy in the number one Porsche seized the lead on lap 155 in the tenth hour of the 24 hours of Le Mans after Kamui Kobayashi in the number seven Toyota stopped with a suspected clutch problem. 

In the number two Porsche, New Zealand driver Brendan Hartley was up to sixteenth place by midway through the event at 3 a.m. (0100 UTC) and up into the top ten two hours later.

Just after half-way, Tandy's co-driver Andre Lotterer took over the wheel after a fuel and tire change for the number one Porsche.

Toyota woes

A safety car period caused by gravel on the track after a spin by Ford's Olivier Pla was just ending when Kobayashi's Toyota slowed going over the startline. He was unable to get the car back to the pits. 

Kobayashi said, "I cannot move, I cannot move." While he did get his Toyota moving slowly it stopped again and the Japanese driver climbed out and walked away.

Motorsport 2017 - 24 Stunden Le Mans - Renntag (Getty Images/AFP/J. F. Monier)

Toyota has never won Le Mans 24 Hours

Less than 10 minutes later, Toyota's number nine car driven by Nicolas Lapierre, was hit by another car. The accident caused a rear left puncture and forced the car out of the competition.

But Toyota was able to get its number eight car back on the track after lengthy repairs following a front motor problem. 

Toyota won the first two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship and started in pole position after a record qualifying lap. Toyota has never won the Le Mans event, but was on track to become the first Japanese manufacturer to win the endurance competition since Mazda in 1991.

The race was started by Formula One chairman Chase Carey.

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The 24 hour race at the Nürburgring

kbd/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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