Drama struck the 24 Hours of Le Mans as Saturday turned into Sunday when erstwhile race leaders, the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing machine of Kamui Kobayashi suffered mechanical failure and retired from the race.
Nick Tandy and the #1 Porsche LMP Team have inherited the lead, which came directly after the first safety car period of the race following Oliver Pla’s decision to empty gravel from his Ford GT car on the track after a small crash at Indianapolis.
1st – #1 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Jani/Lotterer/Tandy
2nd – #9 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Lopez/Kunimoto/Lapierre
3rd – #2 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Hartley/Bernhard/Bamber
Kamui Kobayashi had taken over from Mike Conway on board the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing machine but the team no longer find themselves in the lead of the 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans as the race moved into Sunday.
The Japanese racer held a considerable advantage over the #1 Porsche LMP Team entry, with that car having lost a little time when Neel Jani spun whilst entering the pits before handing the car over to Nick Tandy in the stop.
However, the #7 slowed just on the resumption of the race following the first safety car period of the race, with Kobayashi crawling back to the pit lane with very limited power, handing Tandy a comfortable lead of over a lap over the #9 Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre.
Kobayashi attempted to crawl around the Circuit de la Sarthe, but after numerous stops on track, he pulled off for good on the run down to the Porsche Curves, promoting Earl Bamber and the #2 Porsche back onto the podium places in LMP1 despite its early lengthy pit stop that initially saw them fall out of contention!
2nd – #31 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Prost/Senna/Canal
1st – #13 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Piquet Jr/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche
3rd – #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson – Tung/Laurent/Jarvis
Vaillante Rebellion continue to run first and second in LMP2, with Nicolas Prost in the #31 ahead the #13 of Matias Beche, while the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing machine of Thomas Laurent runs third ahead of Simon Trummer in the #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing.
1st – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Turner/Adam/Serra
2nd – #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani
3rd – #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – Mücke/Pla/Johnson
The #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK machine of Olivier Pla had a small spin at Indianapolis, with the Frenchman tapping the barrier as a result. Unfortunately he was unable to remove himself from the gravel trap, necessitating a Slow Zone while it was extracted.
Pla was then asked by race officials not to drop gravel onto the circuit after attempting to shake it out of his car, but the result of the gravel being on the track, it brought out the first safety car period of the race so it could be cleared up.
After earlier issues that saw them drop to the bottom reaches of the top ten, Marco Sorensen moved back into second place in the #95 Aston Martin Racing entry GTE Pro after passing the #67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell.
With the safety car, this closed up the battle in class, with Daniel Serra in the #97 Aston Martin leading team-mate Sorensen, Tincknell and James Calado of AF Corse, the quartet restarting nose-to-tail after being caught up behind the same safety car, while fifth placed Jan Magnussen and the two Porsches were cast adrift behind a second safety car.
With the race resuming, the class lead ended up with the #95, now in the hands of Richie Stanaway, with the #97 having pitted moments before to fall to sixth, although everyone else ahead of them are due to pit in the next handful of laps.
1st – #84 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari 488 GTE – Smith/Stevens/Vanthoor
2nd – #90 TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage GTE – Yoluc/Hankey/Bell
3rd – #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Ried/Dienst/Cairoli
Dries Vanthoor has a comfortable advantage of more than two-and-a-half minutes at the head of GTE Am in the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari, with the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Rob Bell in second ahead of the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Matteo Cairoli.