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Porsche Penske Motorsport narrowly misses podium at 24 Hours of Le Mans, Manthey EMA wins LMGT3

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Porsche 963
24 Hours of Le Mans

24H Race Report

Porsche Penske Motorsport narrowly missed out on the overall podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024, while Manthey EMA claimed victory in the LMGT3 class. The #6 car of Kévin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor finished just one second behind third-place after 24 hours of running at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Manthey Racing took a landmark victory in its maiden season in the LMGT3 class, with the #91 Manthey EMA car driven by Richard Lietz, Morris Schuring and Yasser Shahin winning the class. Porsche is the first marque to take victories in the GTE Pro, Am and LMGT3 classes.

Poor weather conditions marred much of the running, with several safety cars, one of which ran for four hours in the early hours of Sunday morning.

After fighting several fierce battles for the lead in the early stages, the #5 car shared by Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki finished sixth overall. A tough day for the #4 car of Mathieu Jaminet, Felipe Nasr and Nick Tandy saw its race end early on Sunday morning after an incident at Indianapolis.

The Porsche customer teams had a strong outing, with both Hertz Team JOTA cars inside the top 10 after 24 hours. The #12 car of Callum Ilott, Norman Nato and Will Stevens finished eighth ahead of the #38 entry of Jenson Button, Phil Hanson and Oliver Rasmussen in ninth.

It was a difficult day for the #99 Proton Competition entry, but Julien Andlauer, Neel Jani and Harry Tincknell made it to the finish line despite several issues. The sister Manthey car, the #92 PureRxcing entry shared by Klaus Bachler, Alex Malykhin and Joel Sturm, finished 14th in class.

Car#6

The #6 car started on pole after Kévin Estre’s stunning Hyperpole performance on Thursday, leading off the line in the Porsche 963 he shares with André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor. But it was passed on the way down to Indianapolis by the #50 Ferrari before losing second to the sister #51 Ferrari the following lap.

It retook the lead after the first round of pitstops before it was again passed by the #50 on the Mulsanne Straight, though it remained in the fight for the lead as the Ferrari was handed a 10-second penalty.

On lap 30, the #6 car stopped for wet tyres as the rain fell, but later returned for slicks amid tricky conditions, losing time in the process and running in 13th before making places back up to run fifth by the safety car period. With heavy rainfall overnight, the safety car was deployed at 3.45am during the poor weather, but was set to end shortly after 8am as conditions eased.

The #6 car was running second with eight hours remaining, and was the highest running of the Porsche Penske Motorsport cars. Estre had been on the charge before the race was neutralised, and was quickly pursuing the leading #8 Toyota before his progress was halted. The #6 car inherited the lead when the leader pitted around 3.50am, but pitted soon after and as others stopped, returned to second place. It was again promoted to the lead almost three hours later, before stopping once more shortly before 7am to hand control back to the Toyota.

Heading into the morning, Vanthoor brought the fight to the leading #8 Toyota, managing to put in some stellar stints to slash the gap around 9am and lead by 20s after the next round of stops.

After the next safety car, the gap to the leader was just six seconds, but as the order was reshuffled amid differing pit strategies, the #6 ran in fourth, now driven by Estre.

Vanthoor took the wheel again with 2.5 hours remaining, running fifth, and after passing the #8 Toyota, set about slashing the gap to the third-place #51 Ferrari. Though he made brilliant progress, with the gap six seconds at 12pm and down to just 1.5s by the final few minutes, the #6 car finished on fourth, narrowly missing out on a podium.

Car #5

The #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport car lined up 10th, with Makowiecki taking the wheel for the first stint. It made steady progress through the pack, and opting to stick with slick tyres instead of switching to wets in the early rain handed the team an advantage. The car went on to make up several more places, entering the podium places on lap 68 as it fought the #50 Ferrari for the lead.

It then moved into second as a car ahead stopped, putting it in firm contention heading into the second stage of the race, with the safety car deployed around 10.39pm CEST after an incident at the Mulsanne Chicane and leading the way into the night. Though it was down to 10th around the 200-lap mark, the car largely ran around the top five, before receiving a drive-through penalty for breaching the slow zone procedure, dropping it back to 10th.

It managed to climb back through the field, running sixth for much of the closing stages, with Matt Campbell squeezing in a personal best lap time before the rain hit with two hours left on the clock. Enduring the late rain, the #5 car went on to finish in sixth place.

Car #4

It was a more difficult race for the #4 entry. It lined up 19th after a difficult qualifying session on Wednesday, but had a strong start to the race and was up to 11th by lap 21, running as high as fourth by lap 64. It was handed a drive-through penalty before later taking another for contact with the #85 Iron Dames car on lap 68. 40 minutes later, it stopped again for repairs after losing its number panel and suffering damage to a wheel arch in the earlier contact.

The car came out a lap down on the leaders and was running in 14th before the safety car. It was later struggling with a windscreen wiper issue, but managed to continue in the race. Tandy briefly found the gravel near the Dunlop bridge shortly after 2.30am, but avoided the barriers and carried on.

The #4 car’s race ended shortly after 9am on Sunday morning after a moment at Indianapolis saw Felipe Nasr lose the car onto the gravel and into the barrier, unable to resume.

Customer Racing

Hertz Team JOTA’s #12 car lined up in eighth, having undergone an extensive rebuild after a late crash in free practice on Thursday evening. Initially driven by Stevens, it lost places on the opening lap but was back inside the top 10 by lap 20 before making further progress to run in the top five. It was running in seventh when the safety car was deployed, four places ahead of the sister #38 car in 11th, which started in 17th before making similarly strong progress.

By the morning, the two entries were running in sixth and 11th, with the #38 entry ahead of its sister #12 car. The pair continued their strong performances heading into Sunday, with both cars inside the top eight by lunchtime. The #38 car was handed a drive-through penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits with 1hr45 left on the clock, dropping it to ninth, while #12 ran in eighth. The pair went on to finish in consecutive positions, with #12 in eighth ahead of #38 in ninth.

The #99 Proton Competition car started in 14th, but suffered a door closing mechanism issue and was forced to stop twice for repairs. The car came out five laps down and last in class. It continued, but an electrical failure saw the #99 car go into the garage around 1.30pm, exiting two hours later to see the chequered flag in 16th in the Hypercar class.

Manthey Racing took a stunning victory at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the #91 EMA car securing the LMGT3 class win.

It lined up 16th, but made steady progress through the pack to run third by the first safety car period.It moved into second under cover of darkness before leading into Sunday morning, though it was then passed by the #31 BMW, Lietz recaptured the lead of the class with just over two hours remaining. He crossed the finish line a lap ahead of the nearest rival, the #31 Team WRT BMW.

The race marks the #91 crew’s second consecutive WEC win, having also taken victory last time out at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The #92 car led in the opening stages, having lined up second, but a difficult start to the race saw it fall back to just outside the top 10. But the team bounced back and fought through the field back to the second-place spot, inheriting the lead once the leading #46 BMW stopped. It continued to hold the lead through the night, but was dropped out of podium contention after suffering gearbox issues around 8.30am and having to stop in the garage for some time. It exited in 14th place, and was then handed a drive-through penalty for not respecting blue flags, but crossed the line in the same position.

The World Endurance Championship returns for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo on July 14.

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