Another hour has passed at the Le Mans 24 Hours and this one – ominously Hour 13 – gave Toyota their biggest shock of the race as the No. 7 Toyota GR010 went straight on at Indianapolis and sat stationery on the exit of the corner. Could this be the first crack in the armor for the rock steady Hypercars? The Toyota mechanics hurriedly grabbed their gloves, but Kamui Kobayashi got the car going again and stayed out on track.
Replays soon revealed the incident was simply Kobayashi locking up his tires on the brakes and opting to make the safer choice rather than try and make the corner – a bullet dodged, but only just. The No. 7 Toyota lost 20s as a result of the incident, enough for the No. 8 Toyota to assume the lead of the race in the next pit stop cycle.
The gap between the two Toyotas was less than one second at the close of the hour.
Oftentimes, the story of the race can be crafted under the cover of darkness and if the No. 41 Team WRT ORECA goes on to win 11 hours from now, we can look back to Ye Yifei’s stint in the night.
Yifei reeled in and passed Charles Milesi in the sister-No. 31 Team WRT ORECA to take control of the LMP2 race. Yifei was, on average, 1.5s per lap quicker than Milesi – a stellar stint for Yifei that earned him a proud hug from his engineer when he handed the car over to Louis Deletraz.
Like the two Toyotas, the No. 41 and No. 31 Team WRT ORECAs were within one second of each other at the end of the hour.
While one Corvette charged up the order, the other was wheeled into the garage. Nicky Catsburg in the No. 63 Corvette moved into second after passing Sam Bird. The No. 64 Corvette, meanwhile, has spent much of the hour in the garage with clutch issues.
Despite Catsburg’s efforts, it’s still the No. 51 Ferrari leading in GTE Pro. The No. 83 Ferrari is still leading in GTE Am ahead of the No. 33 Aston Martin and the No. 80 Ferrari.
Elsewhere in the hour, the No. 388 Ferrari of Christian Hook found himself beached in the gravel at the first chicane. A slow zone was needed to extricate that car from the gravel. The No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari which stopped at the entry to Tertre Rouge a number of hours ago has been retired with the team citing a clutch issue.
Finally, there was contact between the No. 26 G-Drive ORECA and the No. 49 High-Class Racing ORECA after Roman Rusinov hit Jan Magnussen in the rear entering Arnage. Magnussen got going again only to hit the wall at the end of the Forest Esses. That contact caused oil to spill from the car, cut down a tire, and left the steering at a 45-degree angle as Magnussen limped back to the pits.