Porsche ends Audi’s Le Mans reign: the weekend motorsport roundup

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb

It’s a special weekend on the motorsport calendar. One of the world’s most prestigious races took place in France this weekend, and while many probably didn’t watch the entire 24-hours, but it’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to glance through the highlights.

And highlights is exactly what we have.

Of course, 24 Hours of Le Mans wasn’t the only event running rings around the planet this weekend. The NASCAR Sprint Cup circus had its 15th race of the season at a drenched but always swift Michigan International Speedway. Across the Atlantic, the weather in Barcelona was the complete opposite, and threw many MotoGP riders out of the Catalan GP.

The WRC took to the fabled dusty backroads of rural Italy for a memorable Rally Italia and finally, the IndyCar Series rolled through Toronto in another wet race.

But without further ado, here’s what you missed from this weekend’s motorsport action.

1. LMP1: Porsche breaks Audi’s deathly grip on Le Mans, finishes one-two

The most important sports car race of the year ended with the first win for Porsche since 1998. Incredibly, Nico Hulkenberg (along with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber) won his first Le Mans title at his first attempt, bringing home the Porsche 919 Hybrid ahead of the sister car driven by Mark Webber (alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley).

Webber’s car led for much of the race but a penalty put his car out of contention. Audi however struggled to keep up with their German rivals, with the cars from Stuttgart just too consistent, reliable and thrifty to keep up with.

Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in their Audi R18 eTron Quattro rounded out the podium.

2. LMP1: Nissan has a day to forget with the GT R LM Nismos

While Audi was beaten comprehensively by Porsche, Nissan had a day to forget in their Le Mans bid.

The cars suffered mechanical issues early which put them out of contention for much of the race, but at least its front-engined high-torque V6 turbo showed promise. It was definitely one of the most beautiful cars on display too.

Another Japanese marque who suffered from a rubbish performance was 2014 challengers Toyota. Although bad luck killed off any chance of a 2014 win, it was the terribly slow pace of the Toyota TS040 that cost the team a victory. Choosing to run only two cars at the race, the team finished eight laps behind the winning Porsche which is more embarrassing than an achievement to be lauded.

3. LMP2: Hong Kong’s KCMG claims LMP2 class win in a Oreca 05 Nissan

In the other classes, KCMG claimed the LMP2 honours beating 19 other cars in the race’s most competitive class. Driven by Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson and former Toyota LMP1 pilot Nicolas Lapierre, the team showed poise under immense pressure. It’s also the first Le Mans win for a Hong Kong entered team.

4. GTE Am: Patrick Dempsey finishes second in GTE Am Class, Ferrari claims top spot

McDreamy probably thought he was dreaming when his team finished second in the GTE Amateur class. Ferrari won that particular category.

5. GTE Pro: Corvette claims GTE Pro victory and WEC Championship lead

In a day to remember for American racers, the Corvette took the flag in the GTE Professional class at Le Mans, beating the likes of Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari to the top step.

6. MotoGP: Suzuki takes one-two in Barcelona qualifying

The paddock was in for a shock Saturday when the two Suzukis, after just seven races into their return, took first and second places in qualifying for the Catalan GP. It was a massive effort from Aleix Espargaro who headed up his compatriot Maverick Vanales at his home race.

7. MotoGP: Lorenzo wins four in a row as riders struggled to hold his pace

His pole was short lived though as Jorge Lorenzo continued where he left off and took his fourth race win in a row. He’s led the past 108 MotoGP laps and is turning MotoGP into a bit of a one-man category, but his rivals really are making it easy for him.

Marc Marquez, Cal Crutchlow, pole sitter Aleix Espargaro Andrea Dovizioso all fell in the Barcelona heat, while Valentino Rossi finished just over a second behind his teammate in second. He still leads the World Championship by a single point going into the Dutch TT.

Dani Pedrosa scored his first podium of the season too.

8. NASCAR Sprint Cup: Kurt Busch takes flag at Michigan

At a rain shortened race, Kurt Busch triumphed at the series’ fastest race track.

Only 133 of the scheduled 200 laps were completed. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Martin Truex Jr rounded out the podium.

9. IndyCar Series: Newgarden, Fillipi take wet CFH Racing one-two

At a soaking Toronto street circuit, Josef Newgarden claimed a memorable win ahead of teammate Luis Fillipi. Starting in 11th position, the Chevrolet driver smartly clawed his way through the pack who seemed rather amateurish in the nasty weather. Newgarden however held his nerve to claim a thrilling victory.

10. WRC: Ogier eventually triumphs over Hyundai duo in Sardinia punisher

In a miraculous Rally Italia, Sebastian Ogier won his fourth race in six events ahead of the charging Hyundai duo of Hayden Patton and Thierry Neuville. Patton led for much of the rally though, but Ogier’s consistent pace eventually proved too much for the rest of the field, finished around three minutes ahead of Patton.

Andy Walker
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