On 14 June 2015 Porsche secured its 17th overall victory at the 24h of Le Mans. In the Porsche 919 Hybrid with the start number 19, Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy left their competitors trailing in their wake.
The chronology of a great team performance. In time lapse:
A perfect start for Porsche: On a grid with 55 participants, there are three 919 Hybrid race cars in the first three places. On the first lap, Timo Bernhard (start number 17) overtakes Neel Jani (18) to take the lead. Nico Hülkenberg (19) is passed by the three Audis and, at the start of lap three, falls back to sixth position. Timo Bernhard is already rising to the challenge: “What a start! He's really going for it already!”
The first safety car phase bunches the field closer together. Events are happening thick and fast. Porsche and Audi take turns at leading the race. At 17:20 the 919 Hybrid (17) takes the lead again. Le Mans rookie Hülkenberg (19) hands over to former Porsche Supercup winner Nick Tandy after 36 laps and is brimming with enthusiasm: “The start, speed limit zones, safety car periods – my début had everything. And I loved it!”
As so often happens, everything changes at night. A stop-and-go penalty for the leading trio of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber (17) puts them back to fourth. But Nico Hülkenberg (19), who has taken over the 919 Hybrid from Earl Bamber after 92 laps, takes the lead. Bamber: “The race is really quick.”
The 911 RSR from Porsche Team Manthey also fights its way up in the GTE Pro class. The trio of Michael Christensen, Richard Lietz and Jörg Bergmeister started in seventh but is now third. The Porsche customer team Dempsey Proton Racing, with American actor Patrick Dempsey at the wheel, is also putting in a great performance. His 911 RSR is fourth in the GTE Am classification.
Everybody is wide awake at Porsche. Long intervals between tyre changes, excellent driving performances and outstanding pit stop times keep the 919 Hybrid in front. The successful tactic is that all three race cars are driving quadruple stints. The drivers and tyres are only changed after refuelling four times. On lap 188 Timo Bernhard (17) hands over to Brendon Hartley, who then makes way for Mark Webber at 5:47 240 laps complete. The 919 Hybrid with start number 18 has problems, Romain Dumas takes over the vehicle from Marc Lieb at 4:23 in sixth place. And in the lead? The Le Mans rookies with start number 19 are running like clockwork and seem to be managing their long stints with majestic ease. Earl Bamber is behind the wheel.
Clever manoeuvring in the dawn: After 249 laps, Earl Bamber in start number 19 is again replaced by Nico Hülkenberg. Hülkenberg is called into the pits on lap 276. Porsche uses a longer safety car phase for an all-round service, exchanging the engine cover, the rear wing, the tyres and the driver again: Nick Tandy returns to the track still in the lead.
Confidence is growing in the Porsche garage. Bamber, Hülkenberg and Tandy simply do not allow the competitors from Audi to get closer. And even better: Bernhard, Hartley and Webber with start number 17 have fought their way into second place in the meantime. The number 18 car of Dumas, Jani and Lieb advances to fifth place.
Will the dream come true? The computer doesn't lie. Unless anything major goes wrong, victory should be certain. The Audis can no longer attack. It is looking like a Porsche one-two. And in typically Le Mans style, the trio with the least experience – Bamber and Hülkenberg are driving here for the first time, Nick Tandy was driving a 911 RSR in the GTE Pro class last year – are driving their way to triumph. For the last time, the car with start number 19 switches hands again. Nico Hülkenberg takes over the last few kilometres.
Vice President LMP1 Fritz Enzinger has tears in his eyes. Hülkenberg drives to a majestic victory. The last command from the pit lane: He should wait for Brendon Hartley in second place for the victory photo.
Nico Hülkenberg (19) drives past the chequered flag together with Brendon Hartley (17): a one-two finish after 24 hours and 395 laps. Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey takes an incredible second place in the GTE Am class. Matthias Müller embraces Fritz Enzinger. The Chairman of the Executive Board is waving a winners’ t-shirt. Hülkenberg goes on a lap of honour in the 919 Hybrid. He sits at the wheel, screaming with delight, pumping his fists.
Only a snapshot.
* Data determined in the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) in accordance with the Euro 6 (715/2007/EC, 195/2013/EC and ECE-R 101.01) measurement method. The figures do not refer to an individual vehicle nor do they constitute part of the offer. They are intended solely as a means of comparing different types of vehicle. Fuel consumption calculated for vehicles with standard specification only. Actual consumption and performance may vary with items of optional equipment. A vehicle’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions depend not only on its efficient use of fuel but also on driving style and other non-technical factors. The latest Porsche models with a petrol engine are designed to operate on fuels with an ethanol content of up to 10 %. You can obtain further information about individual vehicles from your Porsche Centre. Consumption figures were obtained on the basis of standard equipment. Special equipment may affect consumption and performance.** These data were obtained using the Euro 5 measurement method (715/2007/EC and 692/2008/EC) in the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) with standard equipment. The information does not refer to an individual vehicle and is not part of the offer, but is simply provided so that comparisons can be made between different types of vehicle. Further, up to date information on the individual vehicles can be obtained from your Porsche Centre. Consumption figures were obtained on the basis of standard equipment. Special equipment may affect consumption and performance.