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Porsche admits dreams of strong Le Mans finish "dashed"

Porsche's hopes of success at the Le Mans 24 Hours have been “dashed” after all three of its factory cars dropped out of contention for victory before midday on Sunday.

#75 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy

Photo by: Marc Fleury

As the clock creeps past the 20-hour mark, the #5 963 LMDh is the Porsche’s best representative in sixth, six laps lap down on the leading #51 Ferrari, after losing time during the night with first a sensor problem and then a cooling leak that necessitated a 23-minute repair job in the garage.

The sister #6 entry was challenging for fourth place after dawn when Kevin Estre made an error trying to lap an LMP2 car and went straight into the barriers. The car took heavy damage in the incident, with Porsche mechanics spending over 40 minutes in the garage before sending it back out on track.

The additional #75 car for Le Mans was the first Hypercar entry to retire from the race when it came to a halt on the inside of Tertre Rouge during the night.

With the customer Porsche 963 entered by JOTA also running into two separate incidents after briefly leading the race on Saturday evening, Porsche’s hopes of a record-extending 20th victory in the French endurance classic appear all but over with four hours still to go.

Summing up the first two-thirds of the race, Urs Kuratle, the head of Porsche’s LMDh programme, said: “The night and the morning were anything but pleasant for us.

“The number 75 car retired early, we had a defect in the cooling system on the number 5 car and the number 6 lost a lot of time due to incidents. So we’re out of the running for victory. 

“That’s a shame because at times our pace was very strong. Our hopes of success were high at times but unfortunately, this dream has been dashed.

“Now, we’re concentrating on crossing the finish line without any further trouble if possible.”

#75 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy

#75 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Mathieu Jaminet was in the #75 Porsche when it suddenly came to a stop at around 11pm local time. The French driver tried to get the car started again but eventually had to concede defeat, with a simple electrical reset unable to get the 963 going again.

Speaking afterwards, Jaminet admitted that it hurts not to have made it to the finish on the centenary edition of the race.

"Unfortunately, we had to retire early - a huge, huge pity. When I was driving in the rain during the night, the fuel pressure suddenly dropped," he explained.

"I tried everything to get our car going again, but nothing worked. We don’t know the exact cause yet. Sometimes the car can be restarted by resetting the electrical system and using the electric motor to get it back to the garage.

"Unfortunately, that didn’t work because the distance to the pit lane was much too far. It hurts that we couldn’t drive to the finish. Still, it was a great experience to have competed in this race.”

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