The end is in sight, rain is supposedly on the way, and the excitement at Le Mans is building.
The big story of Hour 21 came in GTE Am. TF Sport’s fightback from its puncture at Mulsanne in the first half of the race is complete. The British team’s No. 33 Aston back in the lead of the class after a superb pair of stints by Dylan Periera and Ben Keating.
Once Keating was in the car and tasked with catching Francois Perrodo in the No. 83 AF Corse that has led the majority of the race, he took chunks of time out of the Frenchman on each lap. This meant that when the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari’s 22nd stop was completed, the TF Sport Aston Martin moved into the lead with a 20-second advantage, the Texan having taken 40 seconds out of Perrodo during his stint.
However, Perrodo was able to hand the car over to Alessio Rovera, his driver time now finished. Keating, meanwhile, still has almost an hour to run before his minimum time as a Bronze driver is up. The gap sits at 15 seconds at the end of the hour, with Rovera slowly reeling him in.
GTE Pro’s lead battle continues to provide intrigue too. A slow zone and a quicker stop for the No. 63 Corvette Racing C8.R meant Nicky Catsburg went from 41s behind James Calado in the No. 51 Ferrari to 26s down.
Calado, pushing hard, did manage to respond at the end of the hour and added 10s to his advantage over Catsburg. The gap between the two is 36s as it stands. Should it rain before the end, the margin could mean the difference between a win or second.
Behind, the Porsches are a lap back and still unable to challenge. No. 91 driver Fred Makoweicki admitted to WEC TV during the hour that the 911 RSR 19 “doesn’t have the top speed of the Ferraris and Corvettes”. BoP, he believes, has prevented a Porsche charge.
In the Prototype classes there has been little to report over the last 60 minutes. Toyota continues to manage its healthy lead, though confidence levels are still not too high as problems with fuel pick up persist for both cars. WRT on the other hand, continues to dominate LMP2, the Belgian outfit looking untouchable with its pair of ORECAs that are running in first and second.