We’re halfway through the Le Mans 24 Hours, and it has, for the most part, flown by, though it has settled down now as the night has worn on.
So, class by class, how is the race shaping up?
— WEC (@FIAWEC) September 20, 2020
LMP1 is, as predicted, all Toyota. No surprise to anyone, it’s a 1-2 for the Japanese marque. The better-placed of the two Rebellion challengers is three laps down despite having a faultless run thus far.
There is, of course, a long way to go (drawing on a cliche). But if any class looks settled, it’s this one. It’s Toyota’s race to lose; Rebellion’s R-13s simply don’t have the outright pace to keep up. The team will need to hope bad luck strikes the leaders if it is to win this one.
LMP2 has been a lottery and a race of attrition. There have been four retirements in the class – which isn’t many. But the sheer number of mechanical niggles hitting all the front runners is the story of this race.
So many contenders have hit trouble: G-Drive Racing’s two cars have had a multitude issues and incidents; Racing Team Nederland and Alpine suffered early water pressure woes; Jackie Chan DC Racing’s ORECA has been excluded (for receiving outside help after suffering an electrical issue of its own); High Class Racing hit gearbox trouble; and Eurointernational suffered a flat battery.
— 24 Hours of Le Mans (@24hoursoflemans) September 20, 2020
It’s left United Autosports to take over the top two spots and hold steady. The pair of British-flagged ORECAs currently sit 1-2, a minute clear of the JOTA ORECA. The No. 32’s lead was reduced at the most recent round of stops, though, Will Owen now having to fight off Paul Di Resta after the team opted to change the rear end of the No. 32 at the last trip to the pits, costing valuable time.
Panis Racing sits just outside the top three, a threat lurking after a steady run. The GRAFF ORECA, which lost time after a spin into the Porsche Curves gravel early in the race, completes the top five.
GTE Pro is a straight fight between Aston Martin and AF Corse. Currently, AF Corse’s No. 51 Ferrari leads (in the middle of a pit cycle at the time of writing), but AMR has the benefit of strength in numbers. AF’s No. 71 spent much of the first half of the race in the top three, but a puncture has effectively ended its chances. Aston Martin now has two cars in the top three, and the Vantage AMR looks strong in the cooler temperatures.
What happened to Porsche’s challenge? The No. 92 Porsche suffered a power steering issue which cost it laps in the garage. The No. 91 meanwhile, just hasn’t had the pace to keep up and sits a lowly fifth behind Risi’s Ferrari.
GTE Am is also advantage Aston, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage leading the No. 90 TF Sport example, but only by a few tenths. Both cars have been consistently in the top three and taking turns in the lead.
AF Corse’s No. 83 Ferrari and the No. 56 Project 1 Porsche are the other two real contenders here; they are sitting third and fourth and shouldn’t be counted out – especially with rain and thunderstorm threat still looming.
Weather has been a talking point throughout, but the predicted torrential rain has failed to materialize – at least to this point.
12 long hours to go.