Hulkenberg wins Le Mans for Porsche

© XPB 

Nico Hulkenberg took victory in his debut Le Mans 24 Hours, winning for Porsche alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

Having started from third on the grid, Hulkenberg took a few laps to get in to his stride before delivering a solid opening stint, while impressive consistency from both Tandy and Bamber moved the #19 Porsche 919 in to the lead as darkness fell at Le Mans.

Hulkenberg's second stint was more impressive as he consolidated the lead after the early leading #7 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler suffered a puncture which dropped it away from the front. The #18 Porsche driven by Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard was also in contention before a one minute stop/go penalty for overtaking under yellow flags dropped it down the order.

On his first Le Mans appearance, Hulkenberg delivered an almost faultless drive as the #19 Porsche proved the surprise package of the iconic race, running the most reliably as all eight Porsche, Audi and Toyota LMP1 cars finished.

Hulkenberg's one obvious mistake came when he attempted to lap the #96 Aston Martin early in the morning at Karting corner, diving down the inside late in to the high-speed left-hander. With the Aston not expecting the Porsche to be on his inside, there was light contact which saw the #96 spin off and hit a concrete wall head-on. Driver Roald Goethe was conscious and talking after the accident but taken for X-rays.

Having started the race,  Force India driver Hulkenberg also drove the final stint and brought the #19 car home as light rain fell to give Porsche its first Le Mans victory since 1998 having only returned to the World Endurance Championship last year.

Already the first active F1 driver to race at Le Mans since 2009, Hulkenberg becomes the first full-time active F1 driver to win the 24 Hours since Bertrand Gachot and Johnny Herbert won alongside Volker Weidler for Mazda in 1991.

The #17 Porsche of Webber, Bernhard and Hartley came home second - one lap down on the leader's 395 - to give Porsche a one-two, with the #7 Audi finishing third. It was a tough debut for former Marussia driver Max Chilton as Nissan failed to finish with any of its three LMP1 cars.

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