We are four hours into this, fast, frantic 89th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours at the Circuit de la Sarthe and we’ve had our first retirement.
The big story from Hour 4 was the big incident for the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage AMR of Marcos Gomes, who was running second in class before having a big off at Indianapolis.
The incident is being reviewed by race control though it appeared that Gomes put his left tires on the artificial turf on driver’s left at the kink. He then lost control and was sent spinning at high speed through the gravel and into the tire barriers nose-first.
— 24 Hours of Le Mans (@24hoursoflemans) August 21, 2021
A safety car period was immediately called, the first of the race, which lasted much of the second half of the hour. Barrier repairs were necessary as the car was craned out of the tires. Thankfully, Gomes was able to walk away, although he looked visibly shaken.
Nicki Thiim had started the car and completed three stints before handing the reins to Gomes. Canadian Le Mans veteran Paul Dalla Lana, meanwhile, will not get the chance to drive in this year’s race — yet another chapter in his unfortunate streak of rotten luck at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The safety car period caused by the incident shuffled the pack once more.
Heading into Hour 5 the No. 7 Toyota leads the No. 8 by 8 seconds, Kamui Kobayashi in the leading car, ahead of Brendon Hartley who is aboard the No. 8 for the first time today. The caution didn’t provide any assistance to Alpine, which is still almost two minutes back.
The biggest changes were in LMP2, where JOTA’s No. 28 ORECA took charge after the two leading cars in the class — the No. 36 G-Drive Aurus and Racing Team Nederland ORECA — were held at pit out after stopping during the safety car. They are now down to fourth and fifth, involved in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Van Uitert taking fourth at Mulsanne just before the end of the hour. They are currently a handful of seconds behind the No. 23 United Autosports and No. 65 Panis Racing 07 Gibsons respectively.
— High Class Racing (@HighClassRacing) August 21, 2021
In GTE Pro, it’s still an AF Corse 1-2, though the No. 51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi (pictured, top) has taken the lead once again, the No. 52 down to second.
Jordan Taylor sits third in class in the No. 63 Corvette Racing entry, two seconds up on the No. 92 Porsche, which has had a strong run since its post-Hyperpole rebuild to this point. The WeatherTech Porsche has dropped to fifth.
In Am, the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin, with Ben Keating behind the wheel, has now taken the class lead. The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari dropped to second after losing time during the safety car period due to being out of sync on strategy and pitting before Gomes’ off. The No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Scott Andrews is now up to third.
Two other cars had notable issues in the hour. The Risi Competitizione ORECA had to box for a nose and rear end change during the safety car. The front suffered damage after contact, and the rear — which was due to be changed after the rain stopped — needed tending to after the mechanics were unable to detach it at the first round of stops because a bolt had seized.
GR Racing’s Porsche was also in the wars, losing a ton of time in the garage due to a broken bracket on the subframe.