GALLERY – 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – LMP1

by Nick Smith

At events throughout this season have been working with the FIA WEC photographer, Craig Robertson. Craig was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend providing us with images of all the action and in the first of four special galleries of the event we take a look at the top class of action, the LMP1 field.

LMP1-H is for the Manufacturer teams and was won in shocking style by Porsche Team‘s Marc Leib, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani. The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid claimed the lead on the final lap after an air line failure on the Toyota Gazoo Racing #5 Toyota TS050 robbed the Japanese manufacturer of almost assured victory. Cruelly, despite the fact that Kazuki Nakajima managed to get the car going again and limp the wounded prototype round the 8.5 mile circuit, he took too long and the car was not classified. That put the #6 Toyota on the second step of the podium and the #8 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 Hybrid took the final step.

In LMP1-L for privateers the Rebellions were the class of the field despite problems which put both cars into the garage at points during the race. The #4 ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER was the only other runner in the class and expired after daybreak, catching fire on the circuit.

A wet start to the race saw the field under safety car.
The #5 Toyota capitolised on its ability to run 14 lap stints consistently.
Porsche and Audi celebrated Porsche's 18th Le Mans win but offered tribute to the fight from Toyota.
In danger of becoming 'also rans' the Audi's had neither the pace nor the reliabilty to keep up with Porsche and Toyota.
Celebrations on the podium after an emotional 24 hours.
Long pit stops hobbled the #1 Porsche's hopes of adding Le Mans to its FIA WEC trophy cabinet.
The new for 2016 R18 proved too dificult to repair on the fly and the #7 became a test bed for repairs to the higher running #8.
The #13 Rebellion Racing R-One struggled with reliablity too.
The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans marked the end of Dr Wolfgang Ulrich's time at the head of the R18 programme.
Silence fell over the race track as the #5 slowed at the end of the race, contrasted by the cheers each time the leading TS050 lapped on its way to aborted victory.
The ByKolles team battled to even make the race after a fire in practice.
There has been an Audi crew on every Le Mans podium this millenium.
Pace through the corners helped the Audis to stay almost in shouting distance of the other P1 cars until reliability problems struck.
The AER powered R-Ones were the fastest cars in a straight line.
Porsche lift the trophy for the 18th time. A record.
Neel Jani looks delighted to step on the overall podium for the first time.
Intricate details on the R18 turned out to be the cars achillies heel.
No matter what time of day it was or what conditions, the TS050 had endurance over its rivals.
The #5 TS050 showed that it could win almost from the off. But for a low budget component it would have too.
The #6 proved Toyota's insurance policy in the end, but led the race outright during the darkness.
Night at Le Mans is a special time.
The 2016 919 Hybrid is a case of evolution rather than revolution and in the end it proved the more durable.
Soon after this photo was taken the CLM P1 finally succumbed.
Le Mans for Audi represents a massive marketing investment, over and above the cost of running two of the worlds most advanced race cars.
For Lucas Di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis it was a long hard night.
The #12 R-One was the only privateer entry to classify at the end of the race.
End of the road for the CLM as marshals tend to the flames.
This jet of fire showed that the CLM was not long from retirement.
All the LMP1 cars had to be very agressive in traffic.
Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi proved the welcome reserve for Toyota, rescuing a podium from the despair of the closing minutes.
Former race winners Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer failed to make the podium in 2016.
The TS050 could still console its lossess with the World Championship title.
When the #2 grabbed the win, Porsche had already packed away the celebration tee-shirts, not expecting to need them.
The LMP1-L winners shared the LMP1-H podium.
#13, unlucky for some. Definately unlucky for Rebellion as it was the last finisher and unclassified.
Rain at the start and end of the race spiced things up.
Porsche also contested the LM GTE Pro class but it was the P1 car which took the headlines.
Dr Ulrich isn't the only team member saying fairwell at Le Mans. Leena Gade, the #7 race engineer heads to Bentley Motorsport after Le Mans.
The view most saw of the #5 Toyota until the final three minutes.


All of the photographs on this page are credit Craig Robertson/ and are used with permission and our thanks.

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