The end of the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours is beginning to creep up on us now, with just seven hours remaining in the race.
During the 17th hour, there was plenty of action up and down the field, with plenty of small incidents affecting some key runners.
In the LMP1 class, the No.8 Toyota’s lead continues top build. Sebastien Buemi is consistently lapping faster than the No.7 driven by Mike Conway and the margin is now 33 seconds. Both cars, however, were handed a minute stop-go penalty for speeding during slow zones. Their lead over the two Rebellions though, is so enormous that the penalty made little difference.
Down the order in the LMP1 field, it was a tough hour for DragonSpeed. Former GP2 ace Ben Hanley was at the wheel when he lost control of the No. 10 BR1 AER, sliding sideways through the gravel and into the tire wall at the Porsche Curves, damaging the left-hand side of the car significantly.
Hanley was able to drag the car back to the pits, but the car was forced to retire. That might allow the sole remaining TRSM Ginetta to move into the top five in the class, though shortly after the DragonSpeed BR1 came in, so did the Ginetta with gearbox issues.
Team principal Graeme Lowdon told RACER that the team is having a thorough check over the car while investigating the issue, the team aiming to get the car back out and to the finish.
The only incident was the TDS Racing ORECA’s trip to the gravel at the Ford Chicanes; Matthieu Vaixiviere was driving, running sixth in class at the time.
GTE was also static, with only one on-track battle across the two classes (No.92 Porsche leads Pro and the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche is ahead in Am).
The fight in question was for fifth in GTE Pro — the No.69 Ford GT piloted by Scott Dixon fighting hard with the No.63 Corvette of Mike Rockenfeller. The pair swapped places briefly midway through the hour before Dixon regained the spot and finished the hour fourth. It was nevertheless encouraging to see the No.63 Corvette still fighting hard for a top spot in the class.