We’ve had 20 hours of racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe, and the end is now in sight.
The LMP1 race has become very settled now, it now being a case of the No. 8 Toyota having to just take zero risks and make the finish to score Toyota its third straight win. Brendon Hartley is currently aboard, and has been complaining to the team that the car is suffering with ‘too much oversteer’, so it is becoming a bit of a handful through the morning with the temperatures rising, though sub 3:20 laps are still being pumped out by the Kiwi.
The five-lap lead for the No. 8 means if any trouble does strike the leading crew, it has a 15 minute buffer. This is worth keeping in mind…
Meanwhile, the two Rebellions continue to press on. After its nose change, the No. 1 R-13 (now driven by Gustavo Menezes) is back up to speed, the drivers tasked with piling on as much pressure as possible to the No. 8 ahead in the run to the flag. And they will be worrying a little less about the charge of the No. 7 Toyota behind now too, as Toyota has confirmed that the car has suffered floor damage that has caused its performance level to drop.
It takes a long time to repair the floor of the TS050 HYBRID, so the team has opted to keep the car running and press on rather than deal with the issue. It now remains to be seen whether that ultimately ends up costing the No. 7 crew a podium after yet another disappointing outing at Le Mans.
— 24 Hours of Le Mans (@24hoursoflemans) September 20, 2020
LMP2 has now become a race between all-pro drivers. Roberto Gonzalez has completed his final stint in the JOTA ORECA, and with Antonio Felix Da Costa now installed in the No. 38 it’s time for a final push to try and keep tabs on the No. 22 United Autosports ORECA which now leads. It will not be an easy task though, as Paul Di Resta has handed over the car to Filipe Albuquerque; you wouldn’t want to face up to either of them, they have been simply sublime in this one.
Jean-Eric Vergne meanwhile, is pressing on in third place driving the No. 26 G-Drive Aurus which has recovered well from its electrical gremlins overnight which at the time looked to have ended its podium chances.
In GTE Pro, the two-horse race continues between the No. 97 Aston Martin and No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari. Alex Lynn and Alessandro Pier Guidi have been trading fast times over the past two hours, though it appears the balance of power has shifted from Lynn’s Vantage to Pier Guidi’s 488, the Italian now eating into the Briton’s lead. The gap stands at just 39 seconds which after 20 hours is remarkable. There is no margin for error as the race enters its final stages.
TF Sport, looking to make it a double win for Aston Martin today, has a rather more comfortable lead in GTE Am. Bronze-rated Salih Yoluc looks to have completed his drive time, meaning Jonny Adam and Charlie Eastwood can just push on to the flag. This is a huge benefit, as behind there are still amateur drivers with time to burn. Most notably, the second place No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari has Francois Perrodo at the wheel, the Frenchman falling further and further back each lap. The car is already off the lead lap, so something dramatic needs to happen to the TF Vantage to prevent Tom Ferrier’s outfit scoring its first ever Le Mans win.