2014 LM24: Wake up Australia!

2014 24 Hours of Le Mans

With less than three hours to race Mark Webber’s #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid is leading the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

Mark’s car is not the fastest and has assumed the lead due to problems with its competitors. First, the #7 Toyota TS040 looked very comfortable and set for a well earned victory. The car dominated the race for 14 hours until an electrical fault with the wiring loom forced the car into retirement.

That gave the lead to the #2 Audi R18 which enjoyed a solid three lap gap to the cars behind. Drama soon befell that car when it came into the pits for a turbo replacement. The car lost over 20 minutes and resumed in P3, some two laps down on the #1 Audi.

Remarkably, then, the #1 Audi was leading the race. Remember, this was the car that was built from the ground up overnight during the week after the original chassis was crashed by Loic Duval during the first qualifying session on Wednesday. Marc Gene was drafted into the team to replace Duval who was ruled out, despite not suffering any serious injury.

Also, this meant Mark’s Porsche, with Timo Bernhard at the wheel, was now in second place. It couldn’t happen, could it?

More drama followed when the #1 Audi also had to pit for a new turbo. Suddenly, the #20 Porsche found istelf in the lead. It’s a lead the car still holds, albeit some 50 seconds ahead of the #2 Audi, which has showed outstanding speed since its turbo was replaced.

It’s not clear if it’s due to strategy or outright pace, but the Audi is clearly faster than the Porsche right now. For the leading 919, with Bernhard at the wheel, young Kiwi Brendon Hartley would usually be the next driver in the car. We expect there will be one more driver change before the end of the race. Will Mark Webber be given the responsibility to bring the car home?

One thing is clear, Porsche is so far exceeding all expectations, even if largely due to the misfortune of others. But, as the saying goes, to finish first, first you have to finish. And we could be set for an all-time classic finish, so get your arse in front of your laptop, or on the couch and cheer Mark home!

Mark Webber