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19 Junio 2017, 08:18 | Gerardo Tarin
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The 32-year-old was heading for a famous win in the iconic endurance race when his Toyota lost power with just three minutes and one lap left.
"It's frustrating because we [had] three cars", Vasselon told Sportscar365.
But Chan's auto - crewed by Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent - still claimed class honours, and second place outright. It's rare to be able to say this, but it was a flawless lap. "So it's frustrating. It's frustrating".
Disaster then hit the team's long-leading #7 vehicle, when poleman Kamui Kobayashi started his stint after a 10th-hour safety auto period and was halted by an apparent clutch problem. Within a 20 minute period just after 1am, the Toyota's dream appeared to be in tatters with two vehicles out of the race, both with engine issues. While he did get his Toyota moving slowly it stopped again and the Japanese driver climbed out and walked away.
"Le Mans is a precious laboratory in which we can continue to take up the challenges related to the technologies involved, putting such technologies to the test in an extreme environment". However, the car's conservative drive to victory wasn't enough to stop it from an engine issue.
"There has been, as you can imagine, some confusion".
The contact damaged the left rear of the No. 9 Toyota.
Kobayashi tried to get the auto back to the pits but a full lap of the 8.5-mile circuit proved too much and he was forced to abandon the vehicle.
"The whole race, everyone was so close and so evenly matched and Antonio had a cut tire and had to come in", Magnussen said. "It's very integral and it's not straightforward".
Porsche's chances of victory are far from over however, as the sister vehicle of Brendon Hartley continues to pick off LMP2 cars.
With just over an hour to go, and with Earl Bamber at the wheel, the No. 2 Porsche 919 blew past the LMP2Jackie Chan auto, which was being driven by Ho-Pin Tung.
"It's kind of insane really how the whole race panned out", Conway told Sportscar365. Indeed, the #7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stéphane Sarrazin led throughout most of the first half, while the #8 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima and the #1 Porsche of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy traded positions not far behind.
"That's what this bloody race is like".
Toyota went into the event as pre-race favourites, but all three of its cars were out of contention before the half-way point. "It can happen so quick".
It marks the third win in a row for Porsche after a race of retirements that scuppered Toyota's bid for a first triumph.
"Le Mans is one insane race", a tearful Hartley said.
Leupen said the only thing they can do is regroup for the next round.
British auto racing news source, AutoSport, enthused over Kobayashi's fast lap, which "eclipsed the 3:14.8 with which Hans Stuck claimed pole for Le Mans in 1985 on a circuit that had yet to include four of the corners on the current circuit layout".
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