Wheels24 reader Eben Price shares his thoughts on the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours race held at the Sarthe circuit, in France.
France - Le Mans 24, 2017, what an incredible experience. The cars were fast, the facilities exceptional, the race was well run and managed professionally to the extreme - as always.
However, it was boring (tongue in cheek) - at least LMP1 was. But bear with me, it's not all bad news.
The ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest - organiser of the event) has changed rules to force LMP1 cars to run a minimum of two laps under battery-power at race speed from 2020. This will no doubt make a multi-million Euro exercise even more expensive. I've heard from to a few players who seem to have the opinion this will price LMP1 right out of the water.
But, I doubt this very much.
What everyone seems to miss is the fact that, had this rule been in place in 2017, we would have seen more than the single Porsche at the sharp end. By my reckoning all but the Nakajima-driven Toyota with the blown tyre would have made it to the pits and would have continued racing, rather than to retire with flat batteries. A game changer.
And Jackie Chan? Leading overall for a long time like that after Andre Lotterer's Porsche failed? Who would have thought? Imagine Chuck Norris entering a team to compete against Chan. Well done Jackie Chan DC Racing. Fantastic effort!
Anyone noticed the Corvette team management? Bunch of old lardasse seemed terribly out of place in a sport where only the fittest takes the bowl of cream. It was actually a bit surreal, seeing those fellas on the big screens. Centuries of Big Macs and Cokes between them.
Worst and best moments
Worst moment of the race? Jordan Taylor's final lap. Le Mans is a wicked bitch.
Balance of power is a big passion killer for me. Organisers should spec a class and leave it be, not mess with rules governing individual manufacturers. I am darn sure Ford is highly annoyed. Their race were messed up by the ACO.
UTTER HEARTBREAK: French driver Stephane Sarrazin (R) and English driver Mike Conway react after team mate, Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi in their Toyota TS050 Hybrid No.7 abandoned the race during the 85th Le Mans 24-hours endurance race on June 17, 2017 in Le Mans, western France. Image: AFP
Biggest shock of the race? No doubt Toyota *insert expletive here*. Losing first Kamui Kobayashi in car No.7 with a presumed clutch issue in the small hours and 40 minutes later Nicolas LaPierre's car (No.9) with a blown rear like that almost had me with a lump in my throat. Let's face it, Toyota deserves some fortune at Le Mans. Someday!
Le Mans picks her own favourite.
Mind you, LaPierre could have been gentler in trying to get back to the pits. Oh well...
Overall I feel the present Le Mans formula is a working formula. I'd love to see some expansion to allow a broader sports car field in the race: Mercedes-AMG, BMW M6, Audi, Bentley...
In the GTE category having only four makes is becoming a bit long in the teeth. Mind you, the Porsche 911 RSR sounded like heaven...
Gibson, as engine supplier to LMP2 deserves a special mention. Reliable engines. Powerful engines. Overall, a classy, well run, professional outfit. Kudos to the ACO for choosing Gibson as sole LMP2 engine supplier.
Oh, and the best moment I leave for last: Porsche No.2, for coming back from 56th position and winning so deep into the race – RESPECT!
Le Mans 2017 was BLOODY exciting. One of the best races ever....
Roll on 2018!