Le Mans 24 Five-Hour Update: Toyota Still Leads, Audi Up to Second
After five hours of racing, Toyota’s #7 TS 040 with Stephane Sarrazin at the wheel continues to lead at the 82nd Le Mans 24, with Benoit Treluyer’s #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro almost a minute behind, and Brendan Hartley in the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid almost two minutes back.
The #14 Porxsche which lost laps early in the race when it couldn’t shut off the pit lane speed limiter, has worked its way back to sixth overall, five laps off the leader. The #8 Toyota, which was damaged in the rainy wreck which sidelined the #3 Audi, is nineteenth, eight laps down.
Tom Milner’s #74 Corvette Racing C7.R still leads GTE-Pro, ahead of Bruno Senna in the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage and the two Manthey Porsches. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari which started on the GTE-Pro pole is sixth in class, behind the second Corvette racing car.
The track has finally dried after some fierce storms earlier in the race—just in time for the sun to start setting, cooling the track. The sun is sending low-angle rays right into the eyes of the drivers; the drivers can’t see where they are going and don’t know how much traction they might have—but they don’t slow down.
Toyota-Porsche Fight at Four Hours:
The pole-sitting #7 Toyota TS 040 now driven by Stephane Sarrazin retook the lead in the 82nd Le Mans 24 Hours on lap 56 when Brendan Hartley in the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid pitted.
This pair had been trading the lead on pit-stop rotation for the past two stints, since the second safety car period ended on lap 36. The inte3nse rain which caused several collisions and a pair of safety car periods has passed, and the track is dry.
When Hartley pitted from the lead, Benoit Treluyer took over in the #2 Audi, half a minute off the pace, with Hartley rejoining fourth, another half-minute back. Luca Di Grassi in the #1 was another ninety seconds back
Porsche and Toyota each brought two carts to the Le Mansn 24 Hours, and each had one car lose several laps; the #14 Porsche had a fuel system problem, and the #8 Toyota had an accident when the rain first hit.
Audi, which brought three R18 e-tron quattros, lost the #3 in the same accident which damaged the #8 Toyota. The remaining Audis are running strongly, with all four of the top four running almost identical lap times.
Tom Milner in the #74 Corvette Racing C7.R led GTE-Pro, ahead of the two Manthey Porsches.
Michel Frey in the Race Performance Oreca-Judd maintained the LMP2 lead, and Christian Nygaard in the #98 Aston Martin racing Vantage leads GTE-Am.
Toyota Leads Le Mans but Down to One Car After Two Hours
Sudden rain and aggressive driving combined to cause a collision which has sidelined the #3 Audi R18, heavily damaged the #8 Toyota TS 040, and also ruined the GTE-Am -leading #81 AF Corse Ferrari early int he second hour of the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Replays are not clear, but the best explanation seems to be that Nicholas Lapierre in the fifth place #8 Toyota tired to pass the GT Ferrari on the right, lost control and hit both the Ferrari and the barriers, while the Ferrari caromed into the Audi, sending it backwards into the left-side Armco.
Twenty minutes later, most of the rain had passed, leaving three important cars damaged and two sidelined.
The #7 Toyota TS 040 with Alex Wurz at the helm led the race from the pole and continued to lead un caution, with André Lotterer in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro in second and Timo Bernhard in the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid third. Tom Kristensen in the #1 Audi followed in fourth.
The #14 Porsche broke down early in the race, losing five laps. It was repaired and rejoined, but lies 23rd.
At the two-hour mark Corvette Racing led in GTE-Pro with Oliver Gavin in the #74 CR.7 leading a pair of Porsches, Fred Makowiecki the #92 Manthey Porsche 911 RSR and Patrick Pilet in the #91 Manthey car.
LMP2 as always has been hotly contested. Franck Mailleux leads the class in the #34 Race Performance Oreca-Judd, ahead of Richard Bradley in the #47 Oreca-Nissan and Paul-Loup Chatin in the #36 Signatech Alpine-Nissan.
Samm Bird had been leading GTE-Am in the #81 AF Corse Ferrari before the accident. With his retirement, Patrick Long in the #77 Dempsey Racing/Proton Porsche 911 RSR took over at the top fo the class, with Johnny Mowlem in the #53 Ram Racing Ferrari and Nic Jönsson in the #57 Krohn Racing Ferrari third.