Analysis: 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans – LM GTE Am

by Alice Holloway
GTs driving at Sunset

For the second year in a row at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a class victory was decided post-race and hours after the chequered flag had dropped. On track winners Keating Motorsport, running the only Ford GT in the LM GTE Am class, were disqualified from the race after they were found to have exceeded the maximum fuel capacity, handing the win to FIA World Endurance Championship Am class champions Team Project 1.

The Porsche-running teams seemed to have the advantage at the end of qualifying, with the top three in class being locked out by the German manufacturer. Porsche held the advantage throughout the first third of the race, but issues and incidents began to hit the track as the night fell.

Starting one-two in class, it was a shame to see the two remaining Dempsey-Proton Racing cars fall out of the fight for the lead during the night, suffering issues. The team had been unbelievably strong at last year’s Le Mans, competitively taking the class win, and had been continuing to show that speed throughout the Super Season. Also starting at the front of the class, they had been a strong favourite ahead of the blue-riband event.

Due to the Dempsey-Proton cars not bringing the fight to the front, it was a fairly simple race for the Team Project 1 trio of Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti to secure the class championship they have been leading since the Dempsey cars were stripped of their points at the 6 Hours of Fuji. An incident free race and the disqualification of the Keating Ford saw the German team take their second win of the Super Season, and maiden class victory at Le Mans.

#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche
Credit: Race Photography

In contrast to the qualifying result, the Am podium only had one Porsche on it, with the other two positions being filled by Ferrari-running teams (post the disqualification of the Keating car). JMW Motorsport and WeatherTech Racing both brought home silverware for Ferrari, even if the WeatherTech trio were unable to celebrate on the podium.

Aston Martin Racing only had one of their works cars across Pro and Am that completed the race, with Paul Dalla Lana having an incident in the early hours of the morning which led to significant damage to the #98. The team tried to get the trio back on track in a competitive position, but after a further hour of running the broken car Pedro Lamy was instructed to bring the car into the garage once more and did not return to the circuit.

The highest placed, and only Aston Martin finisher in Am, was the #90 TF Sport which crossed the line second-to-last in class, only ahead of the Spirit of Ferrari. The late Balance of Performance changes hurt Aston Martin a lot, and made it very difficult for them to find themselves in a competitive position.

Just as all of the other classes suffered, the ending of the Am 24 Hours of Le Mans was a little anticlimactic. The many Safety Cars during the night spread the field across the eight mile track with too much time between them to make it a race to the chequered flag.

#85 Keating Motorsport leading the LM GTE Am class
Credit: Race Photography

The only real action that was seen in Am during the final few hours was from the Team Project 1 car that was trying to catch the Keating Motorsport Ford. Even that was only able to get within 40s of the leading car, showing how much time was uncatchable thanks to the Safety Cars at the end of the race.

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