LM24 Hour 6: Toyota in command; trouble for Montoya

Images by Ashleigh Hartwell/LAT

LM24 Hour 6: Toyota in command; trouble for Montoya

Le Mans/WEC

LM24 Hour 6: Toyota in command; trouble for Montoya

With a quarter of the race now run at La Sarthe, the No. 8 Toyota still holds the lead, Kazuki Nakajima now at the wheel after Fernando Alonso climbed out following his first run of the race, the team changing the car’s nose during the stop.

Behind, the No. 7 TS050 HYBRID is just 14 seconds back, the car now being driven by Kamui Kobayashi.

While there was no on-track battling in the hour, there was a bit of drama, this time affecting the No. 10 DragonSpeed BR1, Renger van der Zande straight-lining the Dunlop chicane and getting a bit of air over the rise.

The off, which initially didn’t look too bad, caused subsequent damage to the rear, forcing the car to be pushed to the back of the garage at its next stop for repairs. By the end of the hour, the time spent in the pits had resulted in the car dropping to sixth in LMP1 and outside the top 10.

In LMP2, there was no real action at the front of the pack, although there was a Slow Zone put in place from the second Mulsanne Chicane to Arnage due to an LMP2 car going off. The Signatech Alpine A470 of Pierre Thiriet, sitting second in the class, subsequently had a spin at Mulsanne Corner, losing the back end while under Slow Zone conditions.

The incident that caused it was a rather ironic one, Juan Pablo Montoya going straight off into the tires at Indianapolis in the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217. The Colombian was able to continue after being put back on the circuit, however.

Up front in the class, it’s still the No. 26 G-Drive Racing ORECA, leading by almost two minutes now over the Panis Barthez Competition Ligier, which moved into second in class after Thiriet pitted the Alpine following his spin.

Battles in GTE Pro raged on through the hour, the running order at the front now the No. 92 Porsche (with a healthy two-minute lead since the last safety car) leading the No. 93 Porsche of Patrick Pilet, and No. 81 BMW M8 which has risen into the top three, past the sister No. 82 M8 which was running up front just an hour prior.

GTE Am saw no change at the very top of the order, the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche still in control, although Jorg Bergmeister’s storming drive in the Project 1 Porsche continued through the hour, taking the German up to second. Behind, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage has snatched a top-three spot for the first time in the race, Paul Dalla Lana now ahead of Jeff Segal.

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