The ninth hour of this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours was a quiet one, with few key changes in the running order.
Perhaps the most notable change in the standings was a brief period where the No. 8 Toyota retook the lead for the first time in a number of hours. The safety car period, which began at the end of Hour 8 for the No. 25’s big off at Turn 1, lasted for almost 30 minutes.
During this time the Toyota pit wall decided to bring the No. 7 in early to make a stop under neutralized conditions. This allowed the No. 8 to take the lead and, when it all shook out, gain a lot of time. Prior to the safety car the No. 7’s lead was almost 90s, it is now down to 30s after the 10th round of stops as the No. 8 didn’t take tires to gain track position during its most recent trip to the pit lane. Mike Conway leads, with Kazuki Nakajima second.
In LMP2, it remains a WRT 1-2 with Robin Frijns now at the controls of the No. 31, leading the No. 41. United Autosports’ No. 22 of Filipe Albuquerque sitting in third is 80s behind and pushing hard to reel them in. The top three have been trading fast lap times as the track temperature cools, while the pace has been blistering.
GTE Pro is firmly advantage AF Corse now, with the No. 51 488 of James Calado almost a minute clear of the No. 63 Corvette, which will lose further time at its next stop due to a pitman infringement. The No. 92 Porsche is third, 10s off the C8.R and ready to inherit second when Antonio Garcia brings the No. 63 in for its ninth stop.
GTE Am is still being led by the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari.
Further down the order in Am, news that the No. 99 Proton Racing Porsche has been retired came through during the hour, after a lengthy spell in the garage due to a major suspension issue. This means that seven cars are now out from the 61 that took the start.
#LeMans24 update after 8 hours:
— Ferrari Races (@FerrariRaces) August 21, 2021
The remaining cars on the list are all out of the race due to crash damage. Officially, in LMP2, we have lost the No. 1 Richard Mille Racing ORECA, No. 25 G-Drive Racing Aurus and No. 32 United Autosports ORECA. In GTE Am meanwhile, the No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche and No. 98 Aston Martin are all out.
Currently, the five cars in Le Mans Hypercar and the entire eight-car GTE Pro field are still circulating.