We’re two hours from the halfway mark now, and the race continues to be disrupted by clumsy errors and incidents. Normally a period where drivers dig in for the night and the times tumble, the use of the safety car and slow zones has seemed constant.
During this hour the No. 66 JMW Ferrari was the main culprit. The car had a collision with the Racing Team Nederland ORECA, which caused a puncture to the Ferrari and a spell in the gravel for Frits van Eerd.
Thomas Neubauer, driving the JMW 488, limped back to the pits where the mechanics worked on the car in the garage. When the car returned to the race, Rodrigo Sales made it all of 200 meters before the car lost all power and stopped at pit-out. Unable to get the car fired, the marshals were called into action to lift Sales and the car to safety. JMW’s chariot became the ninth retirement.
Once the race went green again, another Ferrari stopped 50 minutes until the hour, the No. 57 Kessel Racing example grinding to a halt on the run to Tetre Rouge with Mikkel Jensen at the wheel. The issue came as a huge shame for the Swiss-flagged crew, who had been in contention for a podium throughout the opening hours.
— WEC (@FIAWEC) August 21, 2021
Up front, there was at least one notable on-track battle to enjoy. Before JMW’s woes, the race for third overall was on, as Nicolas Lapierre in the delayed Alpine caught and passed the No. 708 Glickenhaus of Olivier Pla.
Lapierre made the move at the first Mulsanne Chicane, before being forced to make a switch-back move the instant Pla made a late lunge to try and snatch the place back. After that, the Alpine pulled away and solidified third overall before Andre Negrao got in at the car’s 12th stop and dropped back behind the No. 708 Glickenhaus towards the end of the hour. The No. 708 will however drop to fourth when it comes in next.
Position wise, with the halfway mark in sight, Toyota holds a safe 1-2 up front (No. 7 P1, No. 8 P2), WRT is firmly in control of LMP2 (No. 31 P1 and 41 P2) and AF Corse has the advantage in both GTE categories (No. 51 P1 Pro and No. 83 P1 Am).