Heartbreak for Brendon Hartley at Le Mans
Kiwi Brendon Hartley's Porsche team was left empty-handed after a dramatic final stage of the Le Mans 24-hour motorsport race today.
After more than 22 hours the No 20 car of Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber, which had been leading for a significant period earlier in the race, suffered a powertrain problem at the most famous endurance race in the world.
Amid changing weather conditions, several accidents and a relatively calm night, Bernhard took the lead in the Porsche 919 Hybrid after 20 of the 24 hours.
He then handed the leading car over to former Formula One driver Webber and less than 20 minutes later the Australian was forced to slow down and drove solely on electric power back to the pits.
The team could not repair the damaged powertrain.
"That was tough for everyone,'' Webber said.
''It would have been such an amazing achievement to go through to the finish. I think we never expected to be in such a great position towards the end of the race.
''What Porsche did is a very big feather in its cap. Few people know how hard it is to get the cars to this point in the race. I'm really sorry for the guys. There is never ever a good retirement in Le Mans, but today is one of the best you could probably have in a way, because we went so far and we learned so much.''