We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours and the field has completed the 12th hour of the race without much fanfare – a rarity in this year’s rendition of the race. Track and air temperatures have dropped, the safety car has stayed parked, and yellow flags have remained in the pockets of the marshals.
All of that has presented a splendid opportunity for the timing screens to switch from the seemingly endless cycle of yellow and green to a new color: purple. Rapid lap times up and down the board appeared as drivers looked to define this year’s race with a night stint for the ages.
None were more successful at that than Felipe Nasr in the No. 82 Risi Competizione ORECA, who set the fastest lap in LMP2 and then bested his own time, and then beat it again. Meanwhile, Dylan Pereira in the No. 33 Aston Martin – which is still chasing the No. 83 Ferrari for the GTE Am lead – also set the quickest lap of the race that car.
It’s still the No. 7 Toyota at the front of the field after Kamui Kobayashi won the hour over Sebastian Buemi in the No. 8 Toyota as the Japanese-driver guided the No. 7 Toyota to an expanded lead of 41s.
In GTE Am and LMP2, it’s the usual suspects controlling the race. Team WRT’s No. 31 continues to lead and has Charles Milesi behind the wheel. Milesi was one of a number of drivers to set personal best lap times in the last hour. Nicklas Nielsen is in the GTE Am-leading No. 83 Ferrari.
The story is the same in GTE Pro where the top five runners have successfully clicked away another hour on the clock with no drama. The No. 51 Ferrari is currently leading the race. Nicky Catsburg in the No. 63 Corvette is within one second of Sam Bird’s No. 52 Ferrari – that’s a true battle for the second position as those two cars are on the same stint cycle.
The No. 46 Porsche has retired with a suspension issue after spending nearly an hour in the garage. The No. 79 Porsche has also retired after Cooper MacNeil’s crash at the Ford Chicane last hour.