Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas
Seidl. “There wasn’t any other choice.”
Porsche believed that it would make up
for going one lap less per stint in the pits.
A 13-lap stint, of course, requires less fuel,
but its time gain during refueling was only
an average of three seconds a stop.
“We always knew that Toyota would be
doing 14 laps,” explained Jani. “The
problem was that we didn’t gain enough
with the short fill to make up for that.”
The No. 5 Toyota that looked a shoo-in
for victory improved through the 24
hours. It wasn’t a match for its sister car
for much of the first half of the race, but
things turned around during the night.
“With high temperatures and a green
track, we were struggling to keep the tires
alive,” said Davidson. “It changed when I
got in it for the second time [in hour 12].
Suddenly the car was alive.”
There was another factor that played
a key role in the outcome of the double-
points round of the FIA World Endurance
Championship. It’s a fact that the Porsche
lost more time in the 80km/h slow zones
– local yellows used instead of the safety
car – than Toyota did over the course of
the race. Lieb, for example,
haemorrhaged time at the end of his
quadruple stint in the 20th hour during a
protracted period of slow zones.
Porsche argued that it couldn’t be
explained away by the vagaries of racing.
“There were a lot of slow zones in the
Porsche Curves and that’s where we
make our time, whereas the Toyotas were
fast down the straights,” explained Lieb.
That means Toyota’s decision to take
an ultra low-drag version of the new
TS050 to Le Mans paid dividends twice
over. The aero configuration of the car
undoubtedly played a role in the fuel
strategy that ultimately proved decisive
and also, perhaps by coincidence, gave it
an advantage in the slow zones.
Porsche admitted afterwards that it
had settled for second in the closing
stages. It had been beaten, and beaten
fair and square.
THE LAPS THAT MATTER
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the more laps you
lead in a race, the higher you’d expect to finish. That went
out the window at Le Mans this year ...
2nd 3rd 4th
Porsche conceded in the final stint
that Toyota’s TS050 HYBRID had it
beaten, only for its rivals to suffer a
late technical problem and deliver
an unexpected victory into the
Stuttgart marque’s lap.