Hulkenberg is an F1 driver for Sahara Force India team and has won several
points in the various races in the past. But a Grand Prix win has always eluded
him. He then received an offer from Porsche to drive at the “Greatest race of
All” --- the 83rd edition of 24 Hours of Le Mans --- where the
German would be teamed up with British driver Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber from
New Zeeland to drive their third entry Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car #19 for his
then went and asked permission from Force India team boss Vijay Mallya if he
could try his hand at Le Mans in his free time. Mallya obliged. Nico went on to
train and develop the car for his Le Mans debut. After completing the Bahrain
Grand Prix, he headed for the 2nd round of the World Endurance
Championship race at Spa to prepare for the grandest test of man and machine where
the car #19 finished in 6th place.
for Le Mans, Hulkenberg returned to the F1 paddock for the Spanish, Monte Carlo
and the Canadian Grand Prix where the German scored good points for the team.
Fulfilling his duties with Force India, the Hulk then headed for his Le Mans
practice and then Porsche took 1st, 2nd and 3rd
in qualifying with the #18 car on pole, #17 on 2nd and #19 in 3rd
with the reigning Le Mans dominants, Audi right behind them.
As the race
progressed, the #17 Porsche took the lead for a significant amount of time as
the Audi of Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Rast in the #9 Audi managed to climb its way
to 2nd to challenge Porsche for the win. Through the race, Audi and
Porsche kept exchanging the lead between themselves while the battles through
the entire race between Porsche and Audi for the 3rd, 4th,5th
and 6th, positions were getting heated. Unfortunately for Audi, all
the three cars had to be brought into the garage at one point or the other due
to minor setbacks in the second half of the race for repairs and component
Hulkenberg taking the wheel for the final stint, and after more crashes and
safety cars, the Hulk managed to get on the lead lap and take the lead ahead of
the #17 Porsche of former F1 driver Mark Webber with Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard
and went on to win the race after 24 hours of gruesome racing, 1 lap ahead of
the red livery Porsche. On the approach to the finish line on the final lap,
Hulkenberg was asked to slowdown. When the German eased off, a long trail of
cars refused to overtake the German in respect towards the soon to be winner
which included the #17 Porsche, #48 LMP2 Oreca 03R driven by Karun Chandok and
many others who followed. Hulkenberg then crossed the finish line to seal the
victory after 395 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The 2014 24
Hours of Le Mans winners Marcel Fassler, André Lotterer, Benoît Treleyur in the
#7 Audi R-18 e-Tron Quattro had to settle for 3rd ahead of Lucas Di
Grassi, Loïc Duval, Oliver Jarvis in the #8 Audi which finished 4th.
While the #18
Porsche in the black livery clocked a record breaking qualifying lap time, the
team failed to capitalise on the performance and eventually finished 5th
overall and the best performing #9 Audi finished 7th sandwiched
between the #2 and #1 Toyotas which finished 6th and 8th
Nissan came into the LMP1 category this year
with the GT-R LM NISMO which proved to be radically different mechanically and
20 seconds of the pace in qualifying. However, the team was competing to
understand and develop the car rather than the actual race and the self set
target of finishing the race was achieved as the #22 car of Harry Tincknell,
Michael Krumm and Alex Buncombe managed to cross the finish line.
category was won by #47 KCMG car followed by #38 JOTA Sport in 2nd and the #26
G-Drive Racing which finished 3rd. Indian driver, Karun Chandok and the Murphy
Prototypes team finished a highly commendable 5th in class and 13th overall in
the #48 Oreca 03R Nissan powered car.
terrible experience all week with a car not even making into qualifying, and
the 2nd car crashing after a sticky throttle in the hands of Jan Magnussen in
qualifying, the Chevrolet Corvette Racing team managed to pull a victory in the
GTE-Pro category with the sole #64 car which performed superbly as it held on
to the lead through the entire 24 hours of the gruesome race. While the Ferrari
458 Italia #71 of AF Corse managed a well fought 2nd place in class, the team
also celebrated the #51 Ferrari taking the final GTE-Pro podium finish.
The 20+ hours
of leading the class, but during the final stages of the competition, Aston
Martin Racing’s GTE-Am category car #96 of Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall, Francesco
Castellacci, in the hands of Stuart Hall crashed near the Porsche Experience
centre of the track completing 187 laps demoralising the whole team as SMP
Racing’s #72 Ferrari eventually went on to take the win in the GTE-Am Category
of the 24 hours of Le Mans. Followed by the Dempsey – Proton Racings #77
Porsche 911 took 2nd place in class and #62 Scuderia Corsa finished 3rd.
The next WEC
round will be held at the Nurburgring for the 6 hours of Nurburgring race on
August 30 as the battle led by Porsche, followed by Audi 16 points behind and
Toyota with 53 more point behind the leader, heats up.
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