We have had nine hours of racing now at Le Mans, and the night hours are very much underway. Night brings cooler temperatures, lower visibility and fatigue. We are beginning to see the effects of these factors on the race.
Up front, in LMH, the battle for the lead is very much still on. The tussle between the two Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs has been entertaining thus far, with lots of changes of lead. The two Toyotas spent the whole hour within a handful of seconds of each other, with Sebastien Buemi and Mike Conway both asked by the team to have a long hard think about tire strategy overnight. It appears that changing from medium to soft compound is the way forward.
As we head into Hour 10, though, the No. 8 leads by 30 seconds, as the No. 7 got caught in a slow zone on its out-lap. Brendon Hartley is now in the No. 8, with Jose Maria Lopez back in the No. 7.
Elsewhere in the class there was further strife for the No. 708 Glickenhaus which had to have its engine reset in the pit lane. Its fightback continues, Olivier Pla currently aboard and 17th overall.
LMP2 is still being controlled by the No. 38 JOTA. The lead for the “Mighty 38” is huge, now over two minutes over the No. 65 Panis Racing and PREMA ORECAs which make up the top three.
It must be noted however, that the car’s am driver, Roberto Gonzalez, has only completed one stint in the car to this point. He is set to have a lot of driving to do on Sunday to meet his minimum drive time!
GTE Pro continues to look far more open following the No. 63 Corvette’s woes. That car, which led for most of the opening third of the race, lost almost an hour in the pits due to suspension issues, which Corvette believes wasn’t due to contact. The car is now running 60th, last of the classified cars.
Up front in the class is the No. 92 Porsche, with the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari second and the No. 64 Corvette — which represents Corvette’s only shot at victory now — third.
GTE Am was static during Hour 9, WeatherTech Racing holds a minute lead once again over the Northwest AMR Aston, and an advantage of over a minute on the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche in third.
The headlines from Am came from runners hitting trouble during this 60-minute segment of the race. The No. 777 D’Station Aston Martin, which was spotted running slow on Mulsanne, has become the second retirement of the race, the team discovering chassis and wishbone damage on the car when Charlie Fagg returned to the pits.
The No. 93 Porsche of Michael Fassbender also had another off, this time an unprovoked spin into the Dunlop Bridge gravel trap, the car getting beached. And the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari also hit trouble, the car ending up in the garage with smoke bellowing out of it, losing water. It would appear to be in major trouble.