The 85th Le Mans 24-Hours wasn’t just a race for German sportscar maker Porsche. It was an event filled with drama and more importantly, it showed that the impossible could happen. The 2017 Le Mans 24-Hours was Porsche’s 19th overall victory. And what a win it was, mind you.
The previous weekend’s race seemed over for the German team. This was the scenario as Porsche drivers Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley thought that their race in the Porsche 919 Hybird was over. The car had no front axle drive as of 18:30 hours on Saturday.
But after 1 hour and 5 minutes, the car was finally repaired and was able to join the field—albeit 18 laps down. Still the trio fought hard to keep up. And from 56th place, the trio sliced their way through the pack and ultimately took first place at the chequered flag.
The win is the 19th overall victory for Porsche in the history of the sport. It is likewise its 3rd in a row. This essentially means that the team can keep the coveted trophy. It is truly sweet success for the German contingent. Moreover, it is a win that proves that nothing is impossible.
The drivers sum up the experience and said it best.
Earl Bamber (26, New Zealand): “I can’t believe we’ve managed to pull this one off having been at the back of the field after an hour in the pit-box. Both Brendon and Timo have been part of the Porsche LMP programme from the beginning while this victory is as much down to the guys in the pits. Without their hard work we wouldn’t have got back racing again so this win is down to them.”
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “It feels surreal. When I joined Porsche as a junior driver back in 1999, I carefully developed the dream to perhaps one day get the chance to fight for overall victory at Le Mans. I hoped I would be good enough to really do this one day. Now, 18 years later, we have achieved it together. The final lap was very emotional for me. It will take some time before I realize what has happened.”
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): “Le Mans is one crazy race. The mechanics worked incredibly hard on Saturday evening to get our car repaired in super fast time and since that moment Timo, Earl and myself, together with our engineers, have been pushing hard, 100% every second, and desperately hoped that our efforts would somehow pay off.”