LM24, Hour 14: Dawn brings lead changes

Rainier Ehrhardt/Motorsport Images

LM24, Hour 14: Dawn brings lead changes

Le Mans/WEC

LM24, Hour 14: Dawn brings lead changes

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A reversal of fortunes within the Toyota Gazoo Racing camp has given the overall lead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans back to the reigning champions’ No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

The No.7 car took the lead shortly after a pit stop on lap 215, when the team changed drivers from Kamui Kobayashi to Mike Conway. A lap later, the No.8 Toyota of Ryo Hirakawa pitted, and Sebastien Buemi took the wheel.

Buemi was caught out by a Slow Zone for the stopped GTE Am class No.59 Inception Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo on both its in-lap and its out-lap, while Conway was only interrupted during his out-lap. This resulted in a swing of nearly half a minute, and the No.7 Toyota of Conway, Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez now leads by 26 seconds.

The No.709 Glickenhaus Racing SCG 007 LMH of Franck Mailleux remains third overall and also in the Hypercar class, while the No.708 Glickenhaus of Pipo Derani has moved up to fifth overall and fourth in class, just behind the LMP2 leading No.38 JOTA Oreca 07-Gibson.

After pro drivers Will Stevens and Antonio Felix da Costa carried the bulk of night-time driving, Roberto Gonzalez got on board for just his second stint of the race. He inherits a three-minute lead over the No.9 Prema Orlen Team Oreca of Lorenzo Colombo in second, followed by the No.31 WRT Oreca of Rene Rast in third.

Jean-Baptiste Lahaye had a spin and a spill through the Porsche Curves, spinning through the fast left-handers and hitting the Armco barriers on his left. He brought the No.35 Ultimate Oreca back to the garage, where they soon returned to the race after 10 minutes of repairs. A Slow Zone was declared to clear the carbon fiber and Styrofoam signboard debris left behind.

In GTE Pro, the No.92 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR of Kevin Estre was leading through most of the hour, but the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Alessandro Pier Guidi had jumped ahead of the No.64 Corvette Racing C8.R of Tommy Milner for second in class.

Behind them, the No.91 works Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni has now truly settled into fourth, potentially losing out under the Slow Zones. However just before the end of the hour, the No.92 Porsche was wheeled back into the garage for emergency service. It took the Porsche mechanics just three minutes to perform routine service and then change all four brakes.

That quick service prevented a total catastrophe, but the race lead did change hands just after the start of the hour – the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari is now leading from the No.64 Corvette, with the No.92 Porsche third.

And in GTE Am, the No.33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR piloted by Marco Sorensen still leads. Behind them, the No.99 Hardpoint Motorsport Porsche of Alessio Picariello has taken second place from the No.79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche of Julian Andlauer.

The break of dawn over Circuit de La Sarthe has once again given us one of the most beautiful sights in endurance racing. The Grand Prix d’Endurance forges on…

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