Heading into the final hour of the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours, it looks as though Toyota Gazoo Racing, G-Drive Racing, Porsche GT Team and Dempsey Proton Racing are all set for comfortable victories. However, a couple of wrenches were thrown into the works in the LMP classes, serving as a reminder that it’s not over yet.
The big drama in the hour came halfway through, when the No. 7 Toyota — sitting in second overall with Kamui Kobayashi — was spotted running slowly down the Mulsanne Straight.
Initially it looked like the car was in real trouble, limping home on the pit limiter. But as it turned out, he’d simply missed the call into the pits and accidentally ran an extra lap, so the team asked him to run on the limiter to ensure he had enough fuel to get back to the pits. The incident left the No. 7 a full lap behind the leading No. 8, still in the hands of Kazuki Nakajima — and the gap expanded further when the No. 7 was subsequently called in again for a stop-and-go penalty: By regulation, you’re not allowed to run a 12-lap stint in a hybrid car.
Elsewhere in the LMP classes, the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier lost its chance at a podium after Hugo de Sadeleer — in pursuit of the GRAFF’s SO24 ORECA — suffered a puncture, dropping the team to fifth behind the TDS Racing ORECA.
In GTE, very little happened in Hour 23, the only casualty being the TF Sport Aston Martin, which had an off at the Porsche Curves and was unable to get going again.