LM24 Hour 16: Class leaders begin to hit problems

Nick Dungan/Motorsport Images

LM24 Hour 16: Class leaders begin to hit problems

Le Mans/WEC

LM24 Hour 16: Class leaders begin to hit problems

By

A critical hybrid system failure has struck the leading No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar with eight hours left in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

José Maria Lopez was in a comfortable overall lead ahead of the No. 8 Toyota of Brendon Hartley, but at 7:48 AM local time, the No. 7 Toyota lost power out of Indianapolis and stopped completely at Arnage. Lopez was able to restart, and drove back to the pits.

The worrying sight of mechanics being unable to touch the car, and Lopez being unable to get out, brought back terrible memories of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Yet, Lopez was eventually able to power cycle the car back to what may well be full strength, losing only a lap.

This does mean that the No. 8 of Hartley now has a full lap lead and, barring a similar catastrophe, is primed to win the race overall.

Behind the No. 7 Toyota, the No. 709 Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH of Richard Westbrook is a further two laps back in third.

There has also been a critical hit for one of the GTE Pro contenders with eight hours left in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Michael Christensen in the No. 92 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR was leading the class by well over a minute, when he went off at Mulsanne corner and through the gravel — a carbon copy of the near miss he had 90 minutes earlier. As the car built up speed in Indianapolis, the right front tyre exploded, destroying the front end of the Porsche.

Immediately, a Slow Zone was declared in the relevant section to clear the debris, while Christensen tried desperately to limp his car back to the pits for emergency service. Christensen would reveal that he would have needed to pit anyway for a puncture on the rear, before the whole thing escalated.

The No. 64 Corvette Racing C8.R of Alexander Sims took the lead as a consequence of the leading Porsche’s misfortunes. Running second was the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Pro of Daniel Serra, 18 seconds behind. The No. 91 Porsche of Richard Lietz now moved into third past its wounded stablemate.

LMP2’s top two remains unaltered. The No. 38 JOTA Oreca-07 Gibson leads the No. 9 Prema Orlen Team Oreca of Robert Kubica by nearly three minutes. Roberto González has just ceded the wheel of the leading JOTA car to Will Stevens after a driver change.

Third place now belongs firmly to the No. 28 JOTA Oreca of Ed Jones, who took the position after Sean Gelael in the No. 31 WRT Oreca was given a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact with Sébastien Bourdais.

Ben Keating leads GTE Am aboard the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR, followed by the No. 99 Hardpoint Motorsport Porsche of Andrew Haryanto, one minute in arrears. The No.77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Sebastian Priaulx is third.

HOUR 16 STANDINGS

More RACER