LM24 Hour 1: Toyota leads Rebellion

JEP/Motorsport Images

LM24 Hour 1: Toyota leads Rebellion

Le Mans/WEC

LM24 Hour 1: Toyota leads Rebellion


After an hour of racing, all four classes have already produced plenty of drama at the 88th Le Mans 24 Hours.

Toyota’s No. 7 TS050 HYBRID leads from pole position, Mike Conway having a steady opening stint after being briefly challenged for the lead by Bruno Senna in the No. 1 Rebellion into the first corner. He was able to hold station and ended up with a 41-second advantage over the No. 1 by the end of the hour.

Encouragingly, the No. 1 Rebellion is not losing chunks of time each lap; instead it dropped back during the first pit cycle due to Toyota opting to short fill its two cars.

That decision briefly promoted the No. 8 sister TS050 HYBRID to second, but Sebastien Buemi had to pit again a second time after only a few laps due to a left-rear slow puncture. That dropped the car down to fourth behind both Rebellions, the No. 3 R-13 now up to third after a quiet 60 minutes for Nathanael Berthon.

In LMP2, the No, 22 United Autosports ORECA led from pole, Filipe Albuquerque untouchable thus far. Some nine seconds is the margin back to the High Class Racing ORECA, in second. The No. 24 GRAFF ORECA is now third after an astonishing move by James Allen to get past the hard-charging Alex Brundle, who has been on the limit in the No. 32 United ORECA thus far and sits fourth.

The No. 26 G-Drive Racing Aurus is fifth, ahead of the first Goodyear runner, the No. 38 JOTA ORECA driven by Anthony Davidson from the start.

LMP2, unusually, has seen multiple mechanical dramas already. The Racing Team Nederland ORECA went backwards after the opening laps, Giedo van der Garde unable to take the lead for the Dutch team, instead bring the car in for repairs in the garage. It was a huge disappointment for the WEC full-season team, which is looking to pick up valuable WEC points as well as a big result at Le Mans this weekend. Its ORECA is now three laps down.

Reigning LMP2 Le Mans winner Signatech Alpine has also lost multiple laps, a water pressure issue causing Andre Negrao to pit the A470 after just 15 minutes of racing for a check-up. The issue is now fixed but the the team will spend the rest of this race fighting back — not what it wanted after a week which saw it commit to the WEC’s top class for next year!

The IDEC Sport ORECAs, which had incidents early in the week, had to start from pit lane so they are delayed and off the lead lap. Eurasia Motorsport’s Ligier, too, has dropped off the lead lap after a frightening off from Nobuya Yamanaka, the Bronze-rated Japanese driver flying off the circuit at the kink in the run up to the Dunlop Bridge, which sent the car off into the gravel. Luckily it made no contact with any other cars or barriers.

GTE Pro has seen a major change up front since the start. Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 91 Porsche which started from pole, has gone backwards and dropped down to sixth. The Italian, has been unable to extract enough performance from the 911 RSR 19 thus far, the Aston Martins and Ferraris breezing past early on. The No. 92 sister Porsche was also unable to keep up and is seventh at the hands of Michael Christensen, ahead of only the privateer WeatherTech Racing Ferrari.

Up front is now the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage. Alex Lynn has proven to be the quickest man in the class, taking the lead from James Calado in the No. 51 Ferrari at Mulsanne Corner.

After the first round of stops the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE is now second, with the No. 95 Aston of Nicki This third. At the first stops, Calado dropped to fourth.

Aston Martin also controls GTE Am, the No. 98 Vantage clearly the quickest car in the category at this early stage, Ross Gunn hasn’t put a foot wrong thus far, and leads the No. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin by eight seconds. The No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche is now third, Matteo Cairoli leading early but unable to hold on after Gunn caught up and made a pass.

The pole-sitting Luzich Racing Ferrari is now 14th, after Oz Negri got caught out at the same part of the track at Nobuya Yamanaka, flying backwards into the gravel trap at the top of the hill in front of the Dunlop Bridge. That incident caused the No. 88 Proton Porsche of Thomas Preining to take evasive action. The Porsche looks to be the first retirement of the race, it was sent flying into off the circuit, hitting the tires backwards. It wasn’t a huge impact, but the car still hasn’t rejoined.