2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – Hour 7: Darkness approaches


As the 24 Hours of Le Mans ticks into its eighth hour, the last traces of light can be seen disappearing over the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Toyota’s Stephane Sarrazin led the race at the seven hour mark, with the #6 TS050 Hybrid holding a slim 1.7 second margin over the #1 Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard.

Both Porsches continued their strategy of short fueling for a shorter pit stop time, while Toyota remained with its longer 14 lap stints.

In LMP2, Thiriet by TDS Racing led the tense class battle after inheriting the lead from Manor in the previous hour. Pierre Thiriet had the measure of the class after seven hours after taking over from Rio Hirakawa, with a sixteen second margin separating the #46 ORECA from the Signatech Alpine-Nissan of Stephane Richelmi.

One notable casualty from the seventh hour was the Manor ORECA-Nissan which had led much of the opening stanza. Matt Rao brought the car in for an unexpected stop with mechanics working frantically to solve a mechanical issue. The team now sits 50th overall.

GTE-Pro witnessed the closest on-track action during the seventh hour, as Scott Dixon reclaimed second place from Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli in a tight battle. At the close of the hour it was the pole-sitting #68 Ford GT back in front with Sebastien Bourdais behind the wheel, while Dixon followed by over a minute. In GTE-Am, Khaled Al Qubaisi led in the Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche 911 RSR, ahead of Pedro Lamy who was making inroads in the #98 Aston Martin.