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Nine things we learned at Le Mans 2016

By Scott Newman, 21 Jun 2016 Features

The main action from this year's French endurance classic

Nine things we learned at Le Mans 2016

Firstly, if you haven't seen the end of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hour, take the time to watch the video above before you read on.

The 84th running of the French endurance classic was just that, a classic, destined to be remembered and discussed for decades to come. Here are nine things we learned from this year's race.

1. Motorsport can be very, very cruel

It's impossible to imagine how everyone involved in the Toyota effort felt as the No. 5 car ground to a halt on the very last lap. 

Toyota 2016 Le Mans finishThe Japanese manufacturer has now finished second at Le Mans five times, but company boss Akio Toyoda has already confirmed that it'll be back with renewed vigour in 2017.

2. But also heartwarming

It's easy to be magnanimous in victory, but Porsche's response to its rival's misfortune was very classy and speaks volume for the camaraderie that still exists in sports car racing.

Porsche tweet3. Le Mans is still a massive challenge

Audi has been utterly dominant at Le Mans, winning 13 of the 15 races between 2000-2014, however its struggles this year illustrate that every year is a clean slate.

Audi -R18-Le -Mans -pitsToyota's final-lap disaster allowed Audi to extend its record of appearing on every Le Mans podium since 1999, however it lucked into the result being a massive 12 laps down.

4. The LMP1 regulations work

The success of sports car racing has ebbed and flowed over the years as different sets of regulations have come and gone but the current regs work a treat.

Audi R18 Le MansEvery manufacturer has a different solution to the hybrid problem and the cars look wild, are faster than ever yet use less than half the fuel than those 15 years ago.

5. And so do the GTE regulations...sort of

This year resulted in another incredible battle in the GTE-Pro class between the new Ford GTs and the privateer Ferrari 488 entry of Risi Competizione, though somewhat farcically it ended with the first and second-placed cars protesting one another.

Ford GT Le Mans rainThe Balance of Performance measures that take place are always controversial, but some last-minute adjustments created another tight battle in a brilliantly diverse class.

6. A supercar is faster than a GT car

Those last-minute adjustments were required when the Ford GTs went almost five seconds faster in qualifying than they had during the Le Mans test day, leaving their Porsche, Aston Martin and Chevrolet opposition miles off the pace and almost reducing Porsche's motorsport boss to tears on the eve of the race.

Ford GT Le MansFord essentially built the GT to win Le Mans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its amazing 1-2-3 finish with the GT40 and it duly did just that, finishing 1-3-4 in GTE-Pro.

With mission accomplished and the good news story written, it will be interesting to see how the FIA responds to the speed of the Ford next year. 

7. The speed of LMP1 is unbelievable

Now that Toyota has switched from a naturally-aspirated V8 to a twin-turbo V6, none of the top-tier LMP1 cars are particularly pleasing to the ears, but that doesn't mean they aren't spectacular.

Porsche 919 Le MansThe sheer speed of these all-wheel drive hybrid spaceships out of corners is difficult to comprehend, and this year they were limited to 'just' 1000bhp (745kW). Porsche claims its 919 can hit 200km/h in 4.8sec (think about that...) and the Audi and Toyota can't be far behind.

8. The driver line-up is incredible

The manufacturer LMP1 teams are dominated by ex-F1 drivers such as Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson and Kamui Kobayashi, but the depth of talent throughout the entire field is amazing.

Le Mans 2016 Brad Pitt and Mark WebberLMP2 fields ex-F1 drivers like Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Will Stevens, while GTE-Pro is a who's who of motor racing including Ryan Briscoe, Sebastien Bourdais, Giancarlo Fisichella, Andy Priaulx and Jan Magnussen.

9. Le Mans is hugely important for manufacturers

The manufacturers racing at Le Mans spend up big, with massive corporate hospitality, purpose-built trackside hotels and special events to keep VIPs entertained.

TweetsIt's the perfect opportunity to play up the connection between racetrack and road, as you can see by the examples above.