Does the 24 Hours of Le Mans choose its winner? – 24 Heures du Mans

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24h Le Mans
Every year since the first running in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has thrown its fair share of curveballs at competitors, inspiring an inside joke that the race chooses its own winner.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans never fails to deliver drama. A team could have the fastest car, execute a flawless race and still find itself forced to retire in the last lap. Such was TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's extreme misfortune in 2016, for example. Frédéric Makowiecki (driver of Porsche Penske Motorsport's #5 Porsche 963): "I've lost this race several times after we'd done everything necessary to win." Neel Jani (driver of Duqueine Team's #30 ORECA 07-Gibson): "In 2016, when I was an official Porsche driver and had clinched pole position, Jacky Ickx (six-time winner, Ed.) told me 'you can't win this race without it letting you.' When Toyota was forced to retire four minutes from the chequered flag, I thought about what he'd said. And the following year, as my car was leading with a huge advance, a piston broke and that had never happened to us before. It made me think the race didn't want us to win. I've lived the saying from both sides."
In 2021, when Polish driver Robert Kubica and teammates were on the cusp of winning the LMP2 class in the final lap, their car came to a screeching halt on the track due to a failed accelerator sensor. Robert Kubica: "Le Mans sets up all sorts of scenarios and my first participation in 2021 is a good example. Everything happens for a reason. So yes, it's true, the 24 Hours has to favour you, but above all, you must not have overlooked any detail because the race does not forgive."
To increase their chances of success as much as possible, teams strive to achieve a perfect race by being fast, working in total cohesion, effecting good pit stops and avoiding penalties. That way if the race doesn't "choose" you to win, you've done all you can and leave with your head held high.
Neel Jani: "I am not terribly spiritual, but, in life I believe there are things that cannot be explained. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a great example and that's the charm of the race. There is something greater than us. If we knew magicians' secrets, their tricks wouldn't be so dazzling."
Pierre Levegh alone drove his Talbot for more than 22 hours, an extraordinary feat in and of itself. But, just 1h10m from the chequered flag and as he was leading by a staggering four laps, the car's crankshaft broke and put an end to Levegh's hopes of winning. Instead, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL claimed the German marque's first victory at Le Mans.
The Sauber-Mercedes C11 slipped into the lead two hours into the race. Drivers Jean-Louis Schlesser, Jochen Mass and Alain Ferté seemed on a clear path to victory until everything went haywire at 12:54 on Sunday. Ferté returned the car to the garage with a cooling problem and lost more than half an hour. Then the team tried to get it going again, but was forced to retire after leading 257 laps!
This was a hotly contested race between the #5 and #6 Toyotas and the #2 Porsche while the other Porsche and the Audis dealt with reliability troubles and a lack of performance level. The two Japanese cars and German car were in the same lap until the 21st hour. Toyota was headed to its first win when the #5 took the lead at the start of the last lap. But, in a moment that will never be forgotten, the #5 then came to a full stop on the pit straight with a complete loss of engine power. The #2 Porsche slipped by and went on to give the German marque its 18th win at Le Mans.
Sondage Mondial 2023 des fans du FIA WEC
The Endurance Racing Legend support race rounded off the 2023 edition of Le Mans Classic, a sensational event which attracted more than 235,000 spectators (200,850 in 2022)! The day was marked by sublime parades of prestigious car brands. On this last day open to the public, the village and the dedicated areas of th…
The 2023 edition of the Le Mans Classic has kicked off. On Thursday, many spectators were already there and were able to discover the arrival of the participants in the various paddocks as well as the exhibitors village.
Porsche has unveiled a special edition of the legendary 911: the 911 Carrera GTS Le Mans Centenaire Edition. This exclusive car pays tribute to the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and celebrates the German marque’s glorious history at the iconic French circuit.
The celebrated 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit is hosting the 11th Le Mans Classic from today until Sunday. Consult our comprehensive schedule of races, parades and events.

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