VETERAN German driver Timo Bernhard led Porsche to a dramatic third straight win at the 24 Hours Le Mans race to prevent a huge upset win for the lesser category Oreca team yesterday.
After a series of mishaps to pre-race favorites Porsche and Toyota, the LMP2 category Oreca suddenly found itself in the lead with Frenchman Thomas Laurent, 19, behind the wheel 3 hours from the end of the grueling endurance race.
But the 36-year-old Bernhard, racing in the faster and more powerful LMP1 category Porsche 919 Hybrid, overtook the Oreca with about 1 hour remaining.
As the Porsche No. 2 crossed the finish line, there were scenes of relief in the Porsche garage as team members danced around holding up t-shirts with “Hat trick 2015, 2016, 2017” written on them.
Teammate Brendon Hartley, who had done much of the hard work to drag Porsche back into the race, was in tears.
Bernhard finished about 1 minute ahead of the Jackie Chan DC Racing team car, owned by the famed action movie star from China’s Hong Kong.
Bernhard also won the race in 2010 when driving for the Audi team.
It was a fantastic comeback win considering that the Porsche No. 2 was held up for more than an hour due to technical problems earlier in the race.
The German manufacturer’s 19th outright win at the Circuit de la Sarthe followed a night of drama with Toyota’s top two cars retiring and the No. 1 Porsche also suffering a terminal problem while leading with 4 hours to go.