The dark hours have arrived at Le Mans now, with eight hours gone in the race, and there’s a real rhythm developing up and down the field, with the gaps widening and the drivers readying themselves for the tough hours ahead.
Overall, the running continues to be dominated by the pair of Toyotas, which have been untouchable as they push to create as big a gap up front as possible.
The real action, therefore, came in the privateer contingent, as the No. 3 Rebellion Racing R-13 of Gustavo Menezes put the Swiss outfit’s front-running car into the top three. The American breezed past the No. 17 BR1 of Matevos Issakyan at the start of the hour, but much worse was to come for the latter.
At the very end of the hour, Issakyan lost control of the rear of the car at the entrance to the Porsche Curves, and flew off backward into the outside tire barriers. The Russian was unable to get the car moving again, the rear end heavily damaged, forcing him to get on the phone back to his team for advice on how to get the car back to the pits as the ninth hour began.
This drama is set to promote the No. 1 Rebellion into fourth, and both the Ginettas into fifth and sixth. The two CEFC TRSM G60-LT-P1s are having an extremely positive run thus far — not necessarily on the pace, but reliable enough to keep climbing the standings.
In LMP2, the top three remained static, the No. 26 G-Drive Racing ORECA leading the Signatech Alpine and Panis Barthez Ligier.
The only drama came in the form of a puncture for the SMP Dallara, which was battling for seventh with the No. 34 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier when a tire burst. Harrison Newey was able to get back to the pits, but after a very lengthy in-lap, the car slipped down to 12th.
GTE Pro continues to be a 1-2-3 for Porsche — the No. 92 still holding the top spot — with the lead BMW (No. 81) fourth and the first of the Fords (the No. 68) fifth. There’s been little to report on that front, as the gaps between the top nine cars — all of which are still on the lead lap — are big enough to prevent any sort of key on-track battles.
Like the Ginettas in LMP1, though, Aston Martin’s Vantages are also climbing the standings as attrition effects the class. The two new Vantage AMRs are now 11th and 12th, and on course for top-10 finishes should cars ahead falter.
In GTE Am, the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche’s lead is now down to 28 seconds over the JMW Motorsport Ferrari thanks to Jeff Segal’s progress in chipping away at the leading car.
Completing the top three is the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche which is now back in the top three, recovering from its earlier stop-and-go penalty in the opening hours.