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1999 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 67th 24 Hours of Le Mans, and took place on 12 and 13 June 1999.

1999 24 Hours of Le Mans
Previous: 1998 Next: 2000
Index: Races | Winners

Contents

Pre-raceEdit

1999 saw another increase in manufacturers involvement. Although Porsche did not send a team to contest in the prototype classes, Toyota retained their three updated GT-Ones, now moved to the LMGTP class due to the demise of GT1, while Mercedes-Benz debuted three new CLR LMGTPs. Nissan instead moved from GT1 to an open cockpit LMP, as did Panoz.

Newcomer Audi attempted to try their hand at both classes, with two open cockpit R8Rs and two closed cockpit R8Cs. BMW continued with their open cockpit LMPs, updating to the new V12 LMR.

Mercedes CLR incidentsEdit

This event became famous for the incidents involving the team of Mercedes-Benz CLRs during qualifying and the race itself. An aerodynamic design flaw in the CLR allowed for large amounts of air to build up underneath the nose of the car, especially when following another car and at the tops of hills, notably on the run to Indianapolis and on the Mulsanne Straight.

Mark Webber's CLR #4 became airborne at Indianapolis during Thursday night qualifying. On Friday, the team was allowed to rebuild #4 on a new chassis, with tweaks to the rear suspension, in an attempt by Mercedes to cure the problem. Winglets were fitted to the front to increase downforce. All cars had qualified, but during the brief warm-up on Saturday morning, Webber again became airborne[1] when following his teammates over the hump of the Mulsanne, landing on his roof and skidding to a stop in the Mulsanne corner. This car was withdrawn, but the two other CLRs continued on, again with emergency tweaks to attempt to stop the instability.

A few hours into the race in lap 75, Peter Dumbreck's CLR #5 also became airborne just before the Indianapolis corner (a very bumpy section of the track), this time flying off the side of the track and landing in the trees. This incident, unlike the previous two, was caught by TV cameras and thus broadcast worldwide. Mercedes-Benz immediately withdrew the remaining CLR #6 and dropped out of sportscar racing for the immediate future.

This would be the second time Mercedes-Benz chose to drop out of Le Mans and sportscar racing following an incident with one of their cars becoming airborne and leaving the track, the first being the 1955 Le Mans disaster.

The RaceEdit

The race got off to a fast start, proceeding like a sprint for the first few hours. The top qualifying #1 & #2 Toyotas driven by Martin Brundle & Thierry Boutsen fought with the #6 Mercedes driven by Bernd Schneider, and the #5 Mercedes driven by Christophe Bouchut. The #17 BMW was never far behind and used its superior fuel economy to gain the lead through the pit stops. Toyota #1, #2, Mercedes #6 and BMW #17 all led the race at various points. At 8pm, 5 hours into the race the #17 BMW lead the race with #2 Toyota 2nd, #5 Mercedes 3rd and #6 Mercedes 4th. It was during this fight for second and third place when Dumbreck's famous incident occurred. This led to the immediate withdrawal of the remaining #6 Mercedes.

Following a lengthy safety car period as a result of Dumbreck's accident, Brundle was next to go in the #1 Toyota at 11:30pm. He was trying to claw back time from an earlier mechanical issue when he suffered a puncture at high speed on braking for the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight. The puncture sent the car veering sideways into the barrier, badly damaging the rear suspension. Brundle did his best to get the car back to the pits but eventually stopped at Arnage, the car refusing to go any further, possibly due to drive shaft failure caused by the flailing rubber. At the front the race was still between The #17 BMW and the #2 Toyota, they were never too far apart, the Toyota having the superior pace but the BMW able to go further on each tank. Following them were the #15 BMW and the #3 Toyota which rather than getting involved with the sprint at the front had been quietly going about their business. At around 2am the #2 Toyota being driven by Thierry Boutsen suffered a high speed crash under the Dunlop bridge, again due to a puncture. The car was destroyed and Boutsen had to be extracted from the car suffering from an injury to his lower back.

By dawn the #17 BMW was four laps in front of its sister 15 BMW, it looked like nothing could stop the BMW's. At approximately 10am JJ Lehto driving #17 BMW suffered a stuck throttle and crashed in the Porsche curves. The front of the car was badly damaged and could not continue. This left the sister #15 BMW almost a lap ahead of the #3 Toyota which had been quietly cruising around at a steady pace. With this sniff of a win Ukyo Katayama put the foot down in the Toyota and set the fastest lap of the race of 3:35. He narrowed the gap to less than a minute till again a tyre blowout befell the Toyota team. Ukyo was however able to return to the pits for new tyres and continued. By then bar any problems for the BMW the race was out of reach. Audi came in a respectable 3rd at their first attempt at Le Mans, setting them up nicely for the domination that was to come.

The 1999 race was the last for several of the "big" manufacturers. Only Audi returned for 2000. Mercedes pulled out of sports car racing altogether following the CLR incidents and concentrated on the new German DTM series, BMW concentrated their efforts on their supply of engines to the Williams team in Formula One (who had incidentally built the BMW LMRs). Toyota also pulled out as despite their terrific pace over 1998 and 1999 disappointingly only one of their cars finished the race over both of those years. (Toyota would eventually return to Le Mans in 2012, as well as the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship.)

Official resultsEdit

 
Le Mans in 1999
 
The winning #15 BMW V12 LMR
 
Toyota was a top challenger throughout the race. This #3 Toyota GT-One was the lone finisher for Toyota, finishing second.
 
When this #8 Audi R8R came home in third place, it marked the beginning of what was soon to become the era of Audi dominance at Le Mans.
Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps
Engine
1 LMP 15   Team BMW Motorsport   Joachim Winkelhock
  Pierluigi Martini
  Yannick Dalmas
BMW V12 LMR M 365
BMW S70 6.0 L V12
2 LMGTP 3   Toyota Motorsports   Ukyo Katayama
  Keiichi Tsuchiya
  Toshio Suzuki
Toyota GT-One M 364
Toyota R36V 3.6 L Turbo V8
3 LMP 8   Audi Sport Team Joest   Frank Biela
  Didier Theys
  Emanuele Pirro
Audi R8R M 360
Audi 3.6 L Turbo V8
4 LMP 7   Audi Sport Team Joest   Michele Alboreto
  Rinaldo Capello
  Laurent Aïello
Audi R8R M 346
Audi 3.6 L Turbo V8
5 LMP 18   Price+Bscher   Thomas Bscher
  Bill Auberlen
  Steve Soper
BMW V12 LM Y 345
BMW S70 6.0 L V12
6 LMP 13   Courage Compétition   Alex Caffi
  Andrea Montermini
  Domenico Schiattarella
Courage C52 B 342
Nissan VRH35L 3.5 L Turbo V8
7 LMP 12   Panoz Motor Sports   David Brabham
  Éric Bernard
  Butch Leitzinger
Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S M 336
Ford-Élan 6.0 L V8
8 LMP 21   Nissan Motorsports   Didier Cottaz
  Marc Goossens
  Fredrik Ekblom
Courage C52 B 335
Nissan VRH35L 3.5 L Turbo V8
9 LMP 14   Pescarolo Promotion Racing Team   Henri Pescarolo
  Michel Ferté
  Patrice Gay
Courage C50 P 327
Porsche 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6
10 LMGTS 51   Viper Team Oreca   Olivier Beretta
  Karl Wendlinger
  Dominique Dupuy
Chrysler Viper GTS-R M 325
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
11 LMP 11   Panoz Motor Sports   Johnny O'Connell
  Jan Magnussen
  Max Angelelli
Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S M 323
Ford-Élan 6.0 L V8
12 LMGTS 52   Viper Team Oreca   Tommy Archer
  Justin Bell
  Marc Duez
Chrysler Viper GTS-R M 318
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
13 LMGT 81   Manthey Racing GmbH   Uwe Alzen
  Patrick Huisman
  Luca Riccitelli
Porsche 911 GT3-R P 317
Porsche 3.6 L Flat-6
14 LMGTS 56   Hugh Chamberlain   Ni Amorim
  Hans Hugenholtz
  Toni Seiler
Chrysler Viper GTS-R M 314
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
15 LMGTS 50   CICA Team Oreca   Manuel Mello-Breyner
  Pedro Mello-Breyner
  Tomaz Mello-Breyner
Chrysler Viper GTS-R M 312
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
16 LMGTS 55   Paul Belmondo Racing   Emmanuel Clérico
  Jean-Claude Lagniez
  Guy Martinolle
Chrysler Viper GTS-R D 309
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
17 LMGTS 54   Paul Belmondo Racing   Paul Belmondo
  Tiago Monteiro
  Marc Rostan
Chrysler Viper GTS-R D 299
Chrysler 8.0L V10
18 LMGTS 64   Konrad Motorsport   Franz Konrad
  Peter Kitchak
  Charles Slater
Porsche 911 GT2 D 293
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
19 LMGT 80   Champion Racing Dave Maraj   Dirk Müller
  Bob Wollek
  Bernd Mayländer
Porsche 911 GT3-R P 292
Porsche 3.6 L Flat-6
20 LMGTS 62   Roock Racing International Motorsport   Claudia Hürtgen
  André Ahrlé
  Vincent Vosse
Porsche 911 GT2 Y 290
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
21 LMGT 84   Perspective Racing   Thierry Perrier
  Jean-Louis Ricci
  Michel Nourry
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR P 288
Porsche 3.8 L Flat-6
22 LMGTS 57   Hugh Chamberlain   Thomas Erdos
  Christian Vann
  Christian Gläsel
Chrysler Viper GTS-R M 270
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
NC LMGTS 65   Société Cheréau   Jean-Luc Chéreau
  Patrice Goueslard
  Pierre Yver
Porsche 911 GT2 M 240
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
DNF LMP 17   Team BMW Motorsport   Tom Kristensen
  JJ Lehto
  Jörg Müller
BMW V12 LMR M 304
BMW S70 6.0 L V12
DNF LMGTS 53   Viper Team Oreca   David Donohue
  Jean-Philippe Belloc
  Soheil Ayari
Chrysler Viper GTS-R M 271
Chrysler 8.0 L V10
DNF LMGTS 63   Roock Racing International Motorsport   Hubert Haupt
  John Robinson
  Hugh Price
Porsche 911 GT2 Y 232
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
DNF LMP 19   Team Goh   Hiro Matsushita
  Hiroki Katoh
  Akihiko Nakaya
BMW V12 LM M 223
BMW S70 6.0 L V12
DNF LMP 26   Konrad Motorsport   Jan Lammers
  Peter Kox
  Tom Coronel
Lola B98/10 D 213
Ford-Roush 6.0 L V8
DNF LMGTP 10   Audi Sport UK   James Weaver
  Andy Wallace
  Perry McCarthy
Audi R8C M 198
Audi 3.6 L Turbo V8
DNF LMGTP 2   Toyota Motorsports   Thierry Boutsen
  Ralf Kelleners
  Allan McNish
Toyota GT-One M 173
Toyota R36V 3.6 L Turbo V8
DNF LMGTS 61   Freisinger Motorsport   Ernst Palmberger
  Wolfgang Kaufmann
  Michel Ligonnet
Porsche 911 GT2 D 157
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
DNF LMP 27   Kremer Racing   Tomas Saldaña
  Grant Orbell
  Didier de Radiguès
Lola B98/10 G 146
Ford-Roush 6.0 L V8
DNF LMGTS 67   Larbre Compétition   Jean-Pierre Jarier
  Sébastien Bourdais
  Pierre de Thoisy
Porsche 911 GT2 M 134
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
DNF LMGTS 66   Estoril Racing Communication   Manuel Monteiro
  Michel Monteiro
  Michel Maisonneuve
Porsche 911 GT2 P 123
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
DNF LMP 22   Nissan Motorsports   Michael Krumm
  Satoshi Motoyama
  Érik Comas
Nissan R391 B 110
Nissan VRH50A 5.0 L V8
DNF LMGTP 1   Toyota Motorsports   Martin Brundle
  Emmanuel Collard
  Vincenzo Sospiri
Toyota GT-One M 90
Toyota R36V 3.6 L Turbo V8
DNF LMP 25   DAMS   Christophe Tinseau
  Franck Montagny
  David Terrien
Lola B98/10 P 77
Judd GV4 4.0 L V10
DNF LMGTP 6   AMG-Mercedes   Bernd Schneider
  Franck Lagorce
  Pedro Lamy
Mercedes-Benz CLR B 76
Mercedes-Benz GT108C 5.7 L V8
DNF LMGTP 5   AMG-Mercedes   Christophe Bouchut
  Nick Heidfeld
  Peter Dumbreck
Mercedes-Benz CLR B 75
Mercedes-Benz GT108C 5.7 L V8
DNF LMP 24   Autoexe Motorsports   Yojiro Terada
  Franck Fréon
  Robin Donovan
Autoexe LMP99 Y 74
Ford 6.0 L V8
DNF LMP 29   JB Jabouille-Bouresche   Jérôme Policand
  Mauro Baldi
  Christian Pescatori
Ferrari 333 SP P 71
Ferrari F130E 4.0 L V12
DNF LMP 32   Riley & Scott Europe   Marco Apicella
  Carl Rosenblad
  Shane Lewis
Riley & Scott Mk III/2 P 67
Ford 6.0 L V8
DNF LMGTP 9   Audi Sport UK   Stefan Johansson
  Stéphane Ortelli
  Christian Abt
Audi R8C M 55
Audi 3.6 L Turbo V8
DNF LMP 31   Riley & Scott Europe   Philippe Gache
  Gary Formato
  Olivier Thévenin
Riley & Scott Mk III/2 P 25
Ford 6.0 L V8
DNF LMGTS 60   Freisinger Motorsport   Ray Lintott
  Manfred Jurasz
  Katsunori Iketani
Porsche 911 GT2 D 24
Porsche 3.8 L Turbo Flat-6
DNS LMGTP 4   AMG-Mercedes   Mark Webber
  Jean-Marc Gounon
  Marcel Tiemann
Mercedes-Benz CLR B -
Mercedes-Benz GT108C 5.7 L V8
DNS LMP 23   Nissan Motorsports   Aguri Suzuki
  Masami Kageyama
  Eric van de Poele
Nissan R391 B -
Nissan VRH50A 5.0 L V8
DNS LMGT 83   Gérard MacQuillan   Michel Neugarten
  Gérard MacQuillan
  Chris Gleason
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Y -
Porsche 3.8L Flat-6

StatisticsEdit

  • Pole Position - #1 Toyota Motorsport / TTE - 3:29.930
  • Fastest Lap - #3 Toyota Motorsport / TTE - 3:35.052
  • Distance - 4968 km
  • Average Speed - 207 km/h
  • Highest Trap Speed — Toyota GT-One - 352 km/h (practice)

ReferencesEdit