2017 24 Hours of Le Mans: LM GTE Pro Analysis


#97 Aston Martin Racing © Craig Robertson

The LM GTE Pro provided an exhilarating dash to the chequered flag finish in class, where the winners were not decided until the penultimate lap. The battle throughout the 24 hours in this class saw the leader trading between Ferrari, Aston Martin and Corvette before a Corvette vs Aston Martin fight kept the audience captivated until the race had finished. Some expert driving from Jonny Adam saw the #97 Aston Martin Racing take the glory at the end of the endurance race and claim class victory.

As the race came to an end, the battle for the win in class was between the #97 Aston Martin and the #63 Corvette Racing Chevrolet. Aston Martin had been dominating the GT field, with a one-two in class, but a mistake from Richie Stanaway saw the then-leading #95 car in the barrier. It dropped completely out of contention for the win and the class podium as it had to return to the garage for repair work.

Adam could sense the victory was his for the taking. Corvette had an advantage in pit stop timing but Aston Martin had the pace advantage and Adam was closing in on Ricky Taylor quickly. With just a handful of laps remaining, Adam tried to make a move passed Taylor through Arnage but went too deep into the exit of the corner, leaving the door wide open for Taylor to regain the position.

It looked like the advantage had fallen to Corvette as the gap increased to 1.5 seconds with just two laps remaining, but disaster struck as a problem occurred on the #63. Going straight over the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight, Taylor either suffered a slow puncture or a brake failure. Adam closed the gap back down and drove a perfect final sector, waiting for Taylor to make a mistake. Over defending, Taylor went wide coming out of the Ford Chicane and less Adam plenty of room to get alongside him and pass for the class victory at the start of the final lap.

Due to the issues that Taylor had at the end of the race, Harry Tincknell managed to catch and pass the Corvette, giving the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK car second in class. The Fords had been pegged as underdogs for the race as the BoP ahead of the event put them on the back foot on a pace perspective. The three-man crew of the #67 had a great run through the 24-hours, keeping out of trouble and bringing home an excellent second place.

The field saw some losses, one of the most unfortunate being last year’s second-place finishers, the #88 Risi Competitione. The #88 was running very well before it was taken out of the race by the #26 G-Drive Racing early on in the race, coming down the Mulsanne Straight. The car was contending strongly and could have been in a position to battle for at least a podium by the end of the 24 hours.

Excluding the cars that did not score points in the World Endurance Championship, the last-minute position change helped the #67 crew extend their advantage leading the GT Driver’s Championship. 11 points separates them from 24 Hours of Le Mans winners in the #97 Aston Martin racing. The class promises a close battle for the rest of the season as the top four in the Driver’s Championship contains four different manufacturers and is covered by 19 points.

Ford continues to lead the manufacturer’s championship by nine points to Ferrari, whilst even with the Le Mans class win Aston Martin are 22 points off the leaders. Porsche brings up the rear of the manufacturer’s title with 72 points.