LM24, Hour 22: LMP2 battle heats up

Rainier Ehrhardt/Motorsport Images

LM24, Hour 22: LMP2 battle heats up

Le Mans/WEC

LM24, Hour 22: LMP2 battle heats up

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22 hours down, two to go at Le Mans, and we are now firmly in the business end of this race, with many drivers climbing out of their cars for the final time in the race.

There are nerves aplenty in the LMP2 class, with the lead gap down to just one minute for the No. 38 JOTA ORECA. Roberto Gonzalez has been pushing hard in his final stint, being chased by Lorenzo Colombo and later Robert Kubica in the PREMA ORECA. The outfit, known for its single-seater programs, has had a superb maiden Le Mans and is showing any sign of giving up.

Will Stevens is due to get in the No. 38 car for the final portion of this race. How big will the gap be by then?

Behind the PREMA ORECA was handed a bit of breathing space during the hour, as the No. 28 JOTA ORECA had to make an unscheduled stop for a slow puncture which dropped Jonathan Aberdein to a clear third spot.

The race for GTE Am podium places has seen some developments too, with trouble hitting the No. 77 Dempsey Proton crew, ending Sebastian Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and team owner Christian Ried’s chances of a podium. The car was running a strong third when Priaulx was forced to pit for repairs to the steering, the front-right corner of the car the issue. A bitter pill to swallow for a trio that have looked capable of a strong result this weekend, the car still being frantically worked on as Hour 23 begins.

This leaves TF Sport in the lead with Ben Keating in for his final stint, ahead of Thomas Merrill in the No. 79 WeatherTech Porsche chasing. Merrill is a minute back and lost crucial time when an error on the entry to the Porsche Curves for the American forced him to take evasive action and a trip across the gravel. Thankfully he made no contact with the barriers and was able to continue without losing a place.

Third at the turn of the hour is the No. 98 Aston Martin. With Paul Dalla Lana’s drive time up, it’s down to David Pittard to fight back and make up the lost ground this morning. A podium is still very much on the cards here.

Just outside the top three is the Hardpoint Porsche, with Am driver Andrew Harayanto still pushing hard in what will likely be his final stint.

LMH and GTE Pro, on the other hand, remain calm, with the No. 8 Toyota still cruising at the front of the field and the No. 91 Porsche holding a 44s lead over the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari in Pro.

HOUR 22 STANDINGS

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