REUTERS: Porsche won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the third year in a row on Sunday with a stunning last-to-first victory in a race of retirements that left early favourites Toyota nursing more heartache.
The German manufacturer’s 19th outright win at the Circuit de la Sarthe followed a night of drama with Toyota’s top two cars retiring and the number one Porsche also suffering a terminal problem while leading with four hours to go.
That left the number two Porsche, shared by German Timo Bernhard and New Zealanders Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, to move surprisingly back into contention after being at the back of the field on Saturday.
The trio’s chances had been written off by team bosses when the car suffered front axle problems and spent 90 minutes in the garage before rejoining some 22 laps adrift of the leading Toyota.
“It can be the cruelest race or it can be the best race ever. You never know,” said Bernhard, a winner with Audi in 2010, who did the final stint to take the chequered flag.
“Every lap counted, every second, to get back to P1.
“The goal was to get maximum manufacturers’ and drivers’ points,” he said of the feeling on Saturday. “Then this morning we saw that actually we can do a little bit more, maybe the podium.”