The first quarter of the Le Mans 24h race is over and emotions continue to frame this fourth event of the FIA World Endurance Championship of the season, slowly shrouded in darkness as the sun sets on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Unfortunately it must also be said that the ignoble new rule of the Safety Car, which provides for grouping behind a single safety car after having rearranged the three categories with the ‘pass-around’, ate up a good 2 hours of racing, which already too many at this point of the event (but also continuing)!
Entered 15′ into the fifth hour, the Safety Car was finally out of the way and at the restart the Peugeot #94 driven by Gustavo Menezes was immediately overtaken by the whole group, still having rain tires on a now dry track, stopped shortly after to change them.
Fantastic battle between the Porsches and the Ferraris, with a couple of skirmishes between Antonio Giovinazzi and Dane Cameron, while the Toyotas pitted again, going down the order.
On the other hand, a very cold shower for the Porsches of Team Penske: the #6 was forced to return to the pits slowly with the right rear on the ground in Kévin Estre’s turn, while shortly after the #5 was fined a Drive Through for overtaking under the Safety Car regime. In addition, Cameron had a problem in the sixth hour stopping briefly for a reset.
Things were going better for Jota’s private one, who by putting on slick tires before the others had managed to leap to the lead. Unfortunately for the British team, Yifei Ye ended up off the ‘Porsche Curves’ hitting the barriers violently and breaking the rear bodywork. Regardless of the damage, the Chinese continued to push like crazy, losing the bonnet and other debris on the track as he returned to the pits, causing a Full Course Yellow to allow the track to be cleaned.
#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
In all of this, the Ferrari 499P #51 and #50 who have taken the lead in the Hypercar Class are stopping a few laps earlier than the others in the whirlwind of stops.
The Reds managed by AF Corse amassed a twenty-second margin over the newly found Peugeot #94, with the Cadillac #2 of Chip Ganassi Racing fourth a little more detached from the 9X8.
The Toyotas are instead in fifth (#8) and sixth place (#7), protagonists for a few laps of the pitfalls brought by the #75 Porsche of Team Penske, which threatening Brendon Hartley’s GR010 Hybrid also risked arriving ‘long’ at a Slow Zone and pinning not to pass and hit the Japanese.
These are the cars at full speed at the moment, with the Top10 completed by the Cadillac #3, eighth after 1′ of Stop&Go for an infringement committed, followed by the other two Porsche-Penskes. Too bad for the Glickenhaus #709, eighth until a failure in the front left slowed it down. On the other hand, the Peugeot #93 was two laps behind. The Porsche-Jota returned to the track sheltered, but found itself 14th, followed only by the Vanwall of ByKolles Racing and the Cadillac #311 of Action Express Racing.
#28 Jota Oreca 07 – Gibson di David Heinemeier Hansson, Oliver Rasmussen, Pietro Fittipaldi
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
For now, La Jota can console herself with the Oreca #28 which took the lead in the LMP2 Class among the thousand changes in the lead and now has about ten seconds on the #34 of Inter Europol, with Panis Racing #65 third furthest.
The race of the #80 of AF Corse has been excellent so far, having climbed first in the PRO/AM category, while United Autosports only has the #23 in the Top5 after the #22 took 3′ of Stop&Go, collapsing to the back of the group.
Sixth was the #41 of Team WRT, battling with the #30 of the Duqueine Team and the #48 of Idec Sport. Prema #9 is ninth, Top10 completed by Alpine #35 after her sister #36 went off the track hitting the barriers and dropped to 15th place.
To complete the PRO/AM discussion, second place currently occupied by Cool Racing #37, in contention with Algarve Pro Racing #45 and Racing Team Turkey #923, the latter also ending up in the gravel and then returning with the help of commissioners.
#85 Iron Ladies Porsche 911 RSR – 19 Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting, Rachel Frey
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
In the LMGTE AM Class, after a brief run by Ferrari (who stop at different times than the others), the Porsches climbed back into the top spots. The #911 of Proton Competition leads with a handful of seconds on the #85 of the fantastic Iron Dames, the #56 of Project 1-AO is more delayed.
The 488 currently remain in the Top5 thanks to the #66 of JMW Motorsport and the #54 of AF Corse, followed at a distance by the #25 Aston Martin of ORT by TF Sport and the #57 Ferrari of Kessel Racing.
The Porsche #88 of Proton Competition instead dropped to eighth, the Aston Martin #98 of NorthWest AMR-Heart of Racing and #777 of D’Station Racing close the Top10 in their category.
And while the lights in the evening begin to turn on around the paddock and in some sections of the track, the weather is once again taking center stage with new drops of rain pouring down…