LM24 Hour 3: Toyota in control despite tire troubles

Rainier Ehrhardt/Motorsport Images

LM24 Hour 3: Toyota in control despite tire troubles

Le Mans/WEC

LM24 Hour 3: Toyota in control despite tire troubles

By

We’re now three hours into the 89th Le Mans 24 Hours and Toyota continues to control proceedings. The No. 7 maintains its lead but the No. 8 has closed in. Both cars have had to make stops early as a precaution, as the team believes that debris has caused two slow punctures. This meant the No. 8 briefly took the lead for the first time in the race due to the stops being out of sync.

“It was strange to have a couple of punctures because I was being careful and trying to stay away from the curbs,” Mike Conway said after his stint. “I don’t think we were doing anything risky, we were just unlucky.”

To add to the small issues for Toyota, the No. 8 was also involved in contact again during the hour. This time Sebastien Buemi side-swiped the No. 39 GRAFF ORECA at the Dunlop Bridge on the entry. The Swiss has now had hits on both sides of the car in the opening hours, following its incident with the Glickenhaus at the start.

Kamui Kobayashi is now aboard the leading No. 7 for the first time in this one, with Buemi in the No. 8 still, eight seconds back. The Alpine is a distant third, Andre Negrao almost two minutes behind.

The biggest drama of the hour came in LMP2, as the No. 38 JOTA ORECA which led the class throughout the opening two hours has now dropped off the lead lap. After a superb stint from Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson climbed aboard at the fourth stop and ended up beached in the gravel at the Turn 1 kink shortly thereafter. The Englishman appeared to veer off the circuit in avoidance of the No. 18 Absolute Racing Porsche of Andrew Haryanto, which had an off-track excursion ahead of Davidson.

This means that the No. 38 has dropped to 19th in class after losing a lap and two minutes, and allowed G-Drive Racing to take the lead. Dranco Colapinto is aboard the No. 26 Aurus and is locked in a tight battle for the class lead with Job van Uitert in the Racing Team Nederland ORECA, the pair 1.3 seconds apart.

JOTA’s No. 28 ORECA, meanwhile, has climbed to third as a result of the sister car’s woes.

Outside the top three, the No. 65 Panis Racing ORECA is fourth ahead of two of the United Autosports ORECAs, the No. 23 ahead of the No. 22. It has been a tough start to the race for the defending class winner, as Filipe Albuquerque struggled for pace in the wet during Hour 1 and dropped as low as 18th. He’s since been on a mission to get the car in contention and has climbed to sixth.

In GTE Pro it’s still a 1-2 for AF Corse, the No. 52 Ferrari leading the No. 51. The pair were involved in a battle for the class lead though at the start of the third hour, as Pier Guidi snatched P1 off Serra at Mulsanne corner, before losing the lead later in the hour. The Italian is now 21 seconds behind.

Best of the rest is the WeatherTech Racing Porsche, which continues to lead the German marque’s challenge. Earl Bamber is just 22 seconds off the class lead, and 15 seconds clear of the No. 63 Corvette which is chasing hard with Jordan Taylor aboard.

GTE Am is now led by Aston Martins. The No. 33 TF Sport Vantage of Dylan Pereira is on top with Marcos Gomes in the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry in second.

They are out of sync, though, as the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari is now fourth behind the Cetilar Ferrari because it has made an additional stop. It will take the lead early in the fourth hour when the Astons pit for a fourth time. Also of note, the No. 33 Aston Martin has to serve a 10-second penalty for a pit infringement at its next stop, so will lose further time.

HOUR 3 STANDINGS

 

More RACER