LM24 Hour 13: Still Ferrari vs. Porsche in GTE Pro

Image by Ehrhardt/LAT

LM24 Hour 13: Still Ferrari vs. Porsche in GTE Pro

Le Mans/WEC

LM24 Hour 13: Still Ferrari vs. Porsche in GTE Pro

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The leading No. 8 Toyota pitted just after the hour, Fernando Alonso taking over and tasked with closing in on Kobayashi in the No. 7, who again stayed out for two laps longer, staying at the wheel.

No. 92 also made its pit stop from the lead of GTE Pro just after halfway, taking tires, too. Kevin Estre took over and set out in pursuit of No. 51’s Daniel Serra, but Serra owed a stop. It did provide a moment of order in the class, though, with the No. 51 Ferrari leading from three Porsches (Nos. 92, 91, 93), the surviving Corvette, then three Fords (Nos. 68, 69, 67).

Allesandro Pier Guidi took over the No. 51 Ferrari at 3:20 a.m., rejoining second in class, around 25 seconds behind the No. 92 Porsche. Nos. 91 and 93 also made a swap, Gianmaria Bruni and Nick Tandy taking over respectively.

Also returning to the pit lane was a very battered ARC Bratislava Ligier, which Henning Enqvist had managed to haul back with one headlight and a front right wheel that didn’t appear to be connected to the steering mechanism. The car was pushed down the pit lane, then dragged back into the garage.

Elsewhere in LMP2, No. 26 was around half a lap ahead of Signatech’s No. 36, the latter suitably placed to win the drivers’ and teams’ championships, and poised to inherit the lead if anything happened to the G-Drive car. They had a cushion over the No. 38 and No. 31 battle which was now starting to be re-joined again, Pastor Maldonado pushing on with No. 31’s best lap of the race and trying to recover from a lengthy pitstop which had dropped DragonSpeed a few places down the order; but Ho-Pin Tung fought back, setting No. 38’s own best time. Not to be left out, Filipe Albuquerque set No. 22’s best lap, too, albeit down in seventh place.

GTE Am saw the cycling of the leading seven contenders, but No. 85’s sterling effort continued, with the Ford GT leading throughout.

There was drama at 3:47 a.m., however, when Estre brought the GTE Pro leader in out of schedule and the car was pushed into the garage. The call from the team was that the exhaust needed to be replaced. This would not be a quick fix and the car was still undergoing repairs at the close of the hour, so Porsche were down to two bullets.

AF Corse’s one surviving hope (No. 71 having been confirmed as an official retirement) now led again, but this time on overall merit, from Tandy and Gianmaria Bruni, who were lapping as one, 1m26s behind.

The hour closed with the No. 4 ByKolles Enso, running in LMP1, pulling off the track at Arnage.

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