The lead battle for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans is continuing to develop as night descends over the Circuit de La Sarthe.
The #9 Audi of Le Mans debutant René Rast led the race at the eight hour mark after taking over from Filipe Albuquerque, with the #17 Porsche of Mark Webber in second position.
Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg (#19 Porsche) is close behind in third, while Marcel Fässler holds fourth overall in the #7 Audi. The #18 Porsche lies further back in fifth position after Romain Dumas went wide at Mulsanne Corner and hit the outer barrier, forcing an of-kilter pit stop to repair the damage that cost the team time.
The safety car was introduced towards the end of the hour after the Signatech Alpine A450b of Paul Loup Chatin exited the track and struck the barriers heavily at Mulsanne Corner. The Frenchman was running third in LMP2, but now the team will be forced to conduct a lengthy repair job after the car incurred severe suspension damage.
Another LMP2 entry also experienced problems during the eighth hour. Krohn Racing’s Joao Barbosa had to pull his team’s Ligier JS P2 to the side of the track at the exit of Tertre Rouge after the Portuguese driver lost power. However, the American squad was able to rectify the issue and has sent Barbosa back on his way in 16th place.
KCMG continues to head the LMP2 field, with Richard Bradley now at the wheel. Tristan Gommendy has closed up to Bradley in the Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05, while G-Drive Racing has replaced the wounded Signatech Alpine entry in third place.
Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor managed to hold off the charging #97 Aston Martin of Rob Bell before the safety car intervention, with Alex MacDowall a further 22 seconds adrift in the #99 AMR entry. The #91 Porsche of Richard Lietz is now a lap behind, while the #51 AF Corse Ferrari continues to shy away from the lead battle as Gianmaria Bruni takes over for the night stint.
The #98 Aston Martin has built on its monopoly over the GTE-Am field thanks to a strong opening stint from Pedro Lamy. The Portuguese driver was a minute clear of Emmanuel Collard in the #83 AF Corse Ferrari prior to the safety car, while Andrea Bertolini is continuing the steady progress of the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari in third position.
Top 3 positions in each class after Hour 8 of the 83rd 24 Hours of Le Mans
- #9 Audi R18 e-tron quattro – Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Rast
- #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid – Bernhard/Webber/Hartley
- #19 Porsche 919 Hybrid – Hulkenberg/Bamber/Tandy
- #47 KCMG Oreca 05 – Nissan – Howson/Bradley/Lapierre
- #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 – Nissan – Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy
- #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 – Bird/Rusinov/Canal
LM GTE Pro
- #64 Corvette Racing C7R – Gavin/Milner/Taylor
- #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 – Turner/Mücke/Bell
- #99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 – Rees/MacDowall/Stanaway
LM GTE Am
- #98 Aston Martin Racing V8 – Dalla Lana/Lauda/Lamy
- #83 AF Corse Ferrari – Aguas/Perrodo/Collard
- #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia – Shaytar/Bertolini/Basov
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