2017 24 Hours of Le Mans: Hour 22 Update – Rookie Laurent holds lead but Bernhard closing fast


The #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing machine of Thomas Laurent continues to lead Le Mans with two hours to go - Credit: Craig Robertson / Speed Chills

After the drama of the previous hour, the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 machine of rookie Thomas Laurent continues to lead, the first time in Le Mans history that an LMP2 car held the outright lead, although Timo Bernhard in the #2 Porsche LMP1 machine is now on the same lap and closing fast.

Five different manufacturers still race on the same lap in GTE Pro, while the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari continues to dominate the GTE Am class.

LMP1

1st (2nd overall) – #2 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Hartley/Bernhard/Bamber

2nd – #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima

With the dramas of hour 21, hour 22 around the Circuit de la Sarthe saw the gap between the race leaders in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing and the chasing #2 Porsche LMP Team continued to close, with less than two laps separating the duo with two hours remaining.

The LMP2 #38 car continues out at front for now, with Thomas Laurent currently holding the advantage, but the one remaining LMP1 car in contention, the #2 of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, has been closing down the gap at around ten to twelve seconds per lap.

Bernhard has taken over the car from Hartley with just over two and a half hours to go, with the German now tasked with the job of challenging for outright honours, which looked out of the question on Saturday night thanks to hybrid issues that necessitated.

LMP2

1st – #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson – Tung/Laurent/Jarvis

2nd – #35 Signatech Alpine Mahmut – Alpine A470 – Panciatici/Ragues/Negrao

3rd – #13 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Piquet Jr/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche

Thomas Laurent holds more than a two lap advantage over the next best LMP2 entry at the top of the running order heading into the final 120 minutes of the race, but the #38 has the possibility of an even bigger result, holding the race lead.

Starter motor issues continue to blight the running of the #13 Vaillante Rebellion, with the pit crew having to remove the rear bodywork at every stop to get the car restarted. Nelson Piquet Jr has taken over the car from Mathias Beche, but the delay in the pits meant the car dropped to third in class, and fourth overall, behind the #35 Signatech Alpine of Andre Negrao.

Piquet had a moment with the ARC Bratislava car heading into the first chicane, with Konstantin Calko rotating after appearing not to see the Brazilian making a move on his inside. The incident is likely to be investigated by the stewards.

The second Jackie Chan DC Racing machine, the #37 of Alex Brundle, is all but a lap behind Piquet Jr in fourth, while the #32 United Autosports machine of Hugo de Sadeleer completes the top five.

The hour ended with the #45 Algarve Pro Racing machine in the gravel at Mulsanne Corner, bringing out the races latest Slow Zone. Matt McMurry was behind the wheel, but it did not take the marshals long to remove his car from the gravel.

GTE PRO

1st – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Turner/Adam/Serra

2nd – #63 Corvette Racing – Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor

3rd – #91 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Lietz/Makowiecki/Pilet

The GTE Pro battle continues to be a thriller, with Daniel Serra in the #97 Aston Martin Racing racing hard with #63 Corvette Racing of Jordan Taylor, with less than four seconds between them, while the #91 Porsche GT machine of Fred Makowiecki runs third.

Serra had to pass the Corvette on track, but there is very little difference in the speed of the two cars, meaning that despite the Brazilian assuming the class lead, he could not shake off Taylor.

Both Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and AF Corse still have drivers on the same lap as the class leaders, with the #67 of Harry Tincknell fourth in the Ford and the #71 of Davide Rigon in the Ferrari fifth.

GTE AM

1st – #84 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari 488 GTE – Smith/Stevens/Vanthoor

2nd – #55 Spirit of Race – Ferrari 488 GTE – Cameron/Scott/Cioci

3rd – #62 Scuderia Corsa – Ferrari 488 GTE – MacNeil/Sweedler/Bell

GTE Am has been pretty stable for the last few hours, with the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari holding the advantage by more than a lap, with former Formula 1 racer Will Stevens currently behind the wheel.

Italian Marco Cioci is running second in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari he shares with British racers Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott, while another Ferrari – the #62 Scuderia Corsa of Townsend Bell – runs third.