Motor racing: Alboreto pilots Porsche through fiery finish

A fire in the leading factory Porsche with little more than two hours left gave a Porsche-powered prototype designed in Britain and driven by a 40-year-old Italian victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race yesterday.

The Porsche with Michele Alboreto at the wheel gave the German sportscar makers a record 15th Le Mans win and a second successive triumph for the Reinhold Joest team, whose TWR prototype was designed by Tom Walkinshaw. The Reinhold Joest team also won in 1984 and 1985.

Alboreto, partnered by Stefan Johansson of Sweden and the Dane Tom Kristensen, used his Formula One experience to secure his first victory in the legendary endurance race which saw the track lapped at 135mph.

"This race was run at grand prix speed for 22 hours," said Alboreto, who won five out of 194 races in Formula One. "The last two hours of the race were more relaxed. I've had a dream for a long time of winning this race and now it has come true." His car's winning distance was 361 laps, toalling 3,052 miles (4,911.4km).

McLaren F1 GTRs occupied second and third positions. The second-placed car was driven by the Frenchmen Jean-Marc Gounon and Pierre-Henri Raphanel, and Anders Olofsson of Sweden, the other by the Dutchman Peter Kox, Roberto Ravaglia of Italy and France's Eric Helary. The French veteran Henri Pescarolo, competing in a record 31st Le Mans, was seventh in his Courage C36, while only one of the three Nissan R390s which started the race with high hopes, made it to the end in 12th place. Of the 48 starters, 17 finished -eight fewer than last year.

Alboreto and his co-drivers stayed behind the top factory Porsches for nearly 20 hours, suddenly gaining the lead when the leaders caught fire with 2hr 15min to go. A McLaren driven by Britain's Andrew Scott also burst into flames 20 minutes later at the same spot after the Mulsanne rise when in fifth place.

"At first I thought, `Great, we gained a spot'," said Johansson, reliving the moment when the lead was there for the taking. "But then you worry about the driver. I was kind of happy to see the driver [Ralf Kelleners] jump out."

Fire also claimed the Chrysler Viper of Japan's Soheil Ayari and Briton Perry McCarthy's Pangoz GTR after they had spun off early in the contest.

The factory-backed Porsches were one-two for most of the race. The first Porsche led for nearly 14 hours before it went off the road, giving the lead to the second Porsche for the next four hours. However, the Joest Porsche was always right behind.

"We had to drive as quick as we could to put as much pressure on them as possible," Johansson said.

"I think we started a little history with this car," Ralf Juettner, the team's manager, said. "It takes a lot of work and a lot of help from a lot of people. It was a good car and a great team."

Mario Andretti, seeking the only major international title he has yet to win, faltered again with problems plaguing his Porche almost from the start. His race ended early yesterday when the car ran off the road.

"The first time out, the rear wing broke and I spun off," Andretti said. "Then down the Mulsanne straight the left front tyre came off." He got the car back to the pits but to no avail.

Andretti finished second two years ago, three minutes behind the winner, after losing half an hour in the pits following a spin four hours into the race. Last year he managed 13th place.

Alboreto had the best qualifying time of 3min 41.581sec, averaging 137.32mph. Kristensen had the fastest lap of 3:45.068, with a speed of 135.20mph (217.534kph).

Cloudy skies greeted drivers at the start. The sun came out briefly on Saturday afternoon, but the threat of rain continued through the night before the sun returned yesterday morning to warm what proved to be a fiery finish.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam