Le Mans 24: One Hour Left and a Roll of the Dice
With one hour to go in the 90th Le Mans 24, rain has once again changed the race.
A cloudburst on half the track caused the wreck of the third-placed #7 Toyota and the P2-leading #35 Oak Racing Morgan.These wrecks brought out the eleventh Safety Car.
GTE-Pro was a hand-to-hand struggle, with the two leading cars lapping only inches apart—until the rain came.
The GTE-Pro leader, the #92 Porsche, pitted for rain tires while the second-placed #97 Aston switched to Wets and back to slicks and the third-placed #91 Porsche stayed on slicks.
The P1 contenders all pitted for rain tires.
Because of the three-safety-car system, every car which pitted gambled on losing three minutes by getting behind the wrong car. Richard Lietz managed to get behind the first safety car, which gave him two-thirds of a lap advantage. The rest of the GTE-pro contenders were behind the third safety car, so the #91 Porsche and the #97 Aston were ready to race for second in the class.
The next gamble would be fuel—which cars could stretch their fuel to the end, which would need to pit once more? A lot will depend on how long the Safety Car stays out.
To continue the trend of perverse weather that has plagued the race from the start, the sun is out on half the track, which means some teams might have to pit for tires regardless of how much fuel they have.
With more rain forecast, the track workers taking who knows how long to fix the track, and with the track drying in spots, every decision is a roll of the dice.