Le Mans 24 Hours - Sixteen Hour Report
As we took some time to refuel and repair our OM team, the #8 Toyota took the lead of the race, and drama for Rebellion, BMW and Jackie Chan DC Racing.
About half an hour before the 16-hour mark, we saw the first lead change in hours. Yes, it was a Toyota swapping with a Toyota, but given how little things have changed across the order, this is actually quite exciting and raises a few more questions. Will Toyota do whatever they can to keep the #8 in front? If the #7 retakes the lead, will team orders force them to give it up at the last minute?
It might still be Toyota, Toyota, Rebellion, Rebellion but it's not been plain sailing for the Swiss team. The #3 wound up back in the garage just before 4 am local time for some repairs to the underbody and during the following hour, Neel Jani brought the #1 in for an unscheduled stop and a trip into the garage for an as yet unknown reason. Trouble for both Rebellions may have made things interesting for a little bit, but both returned to 3rd and 4th as they were, the #3 ahead of the #1.
The remaining LMP1 runners - the #11 SMP Racing, #10 Dragonspeed and #5 Ginetta keeping to themselves much further down the order.
As with LMP1, in LMP2 the order remains essentially unchanged. The unshakable G-Drive continues to solidify its lead at the front of the field, while the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier and #36 Signatech Alpine continue to swap around for second and third.
A few dramas further down in class, Giedo van der Garde found himself in hot water as his #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara appeared to be spewing more flames than usual from the exhuast. Giedo managed to get back to the box and after a ten-minute delay was back out on the circuit. Jose Gutierrez in the #40 G-Drive/GRAFF Racing Oreca wasn't so lucky as he found himself backwards in the wall at the Porsche Curves - an immediate retirement for the team.
Engine troubles claimed the #34 Jackie Chan DC Racing of Ricky Taylor, Come Ledogar and David Heinemeir-Hansson, marking the 7th retirement of this race. The TDS Racing Oreca had to return to its garage briefly, but after a quick turnaround, Loic Duval was attacking the circuit setting purple sectors all over the place - he was the first LMP2 to hit the 3:27 laptimes.
Can you guess who's at the front of GTE Pro? That's right, it's still the #92 Pink Pig Porsche ahead of the #91 Porsche, just as it was four hours ago. And it's still The #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche, the #85 Keating Motorsports at the head of the GTE Am field.
The most exciting things to happen during the late night/early morning were a brief trip into the gravel for Andy Priaulx in the #67 Ford, and a brief battle (for fifth in GTE Am) between Fisichella's Spirit of Race Ferrari and Le Mans debutant Patrick Lindsey's Team Project1 Porsche livened up the track for a bit.
Things started to get spicy as dawn drew in, as a spin for the #84 JMW Motorsport car saw it drop down the order - a shame as it had been running brilliantly through the night. Currently unexplained problems for the #82 BMW as Alexander Sims spun himself into the barriers at Porsche Curves, seemingly unaided - the team later took the decision to retire the #82.
This article was originally published on Overtake Motorsport.
Shared with permission from the author.
Cover Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing