2017 24 Hours of Le Mans: Hour 9 Update – Piquet Problems Hand Senna LMP2 Lead


The #13 Vaillante Rebellion team were forced to change the rear light unit in its pit stop - Credit: Craig Robertson / Speed Chills

Following an unscheduled stop at the end of the previous hour, the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry remains stranded in the garage, though the #7 entry, currently with Mike Conway at the helm, continues to hold the lead.

A race long battle between the Vaillante Rebellions raged on, with Nelson Piquet Jr and Bruno Senna crossing paths once more and duking it out for the LMP2 class lead late in the hour.

Toyota weren’t the only team to suffer pit dramas, as Tommy Milner limped back to the Corvette Racing garage after a double spin from losing his left rear wheel. Despite the initial drama and damage to said corner of the car, his mechanics turned the #64 Corvette C7.R around in only six minutes.

LMP1

1st – #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin

2nd – #1 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Jani/Lotterer/Tandy

3rd – #9 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Lapierre/Kunimoto/Lopez

While things remained calm and steady out on track, the frenetic action was happening in the garage of the #8 Toyota, which was undergoing a full front-end repair. In a similar failure to the one that blighted the #2 Porsche 919 earlier in the race, the regeneration motor on the front axle was the cause of Sébastien Buemi‘s woes. This failure requires the entire front-end of the car to be disassembled, and an hour later, the car remains in the pits being rebuilt.

Nicolas Lapierre‘s #9 Toyota suffered a rather minor affliction, the right side positional marker suffering electrical problems and requiring some ad-hoc repairs during his scheduled stop.

LMP2

1st – #13 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Piquet Jr/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche

2nd – #31 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Prost/Senna/Canal

3rd – #38 CEFC Manor TRS Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson – Tung/Laurent/Jarvis

The #13 Rebellion with Piquet Jr at the wheel had spent the majority of the past hour leading its class, but trouble was brewing. After his stop at the top of the hour, race director Eduardo Freitas came on the radio with a request aimed at the #13.

“Number 13; Please ask the driver to turn on the rear lights immediately.”

They were initially able to scrape by for 40 minutes, but with intermittent issues with their rear lights persisting, were forced to come to pit-lane and fit new rear bodywork to cure the problem.

At that stop, Mathias Beche has taken of the #13 car, and so between the lights issue and the driver change, Bruno Senna is now leading the category once more in the #31 car.

The #17 IDEC Sport Racing Ligier made itself noticed thanks to Patrice Lafargue spinning out at the Porsche Curves. It came to pitlane for new tyres soon after.

GTE PRO

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

2nd – #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani

3rd – #92 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Christensen/Estre/Werner

The GTE Pro class remains on a knife-edge, with 11 cars from 5 manufacturers still on the class lead lap. Daniel Serra continues to hold the rest of the field at arm’s length with the #97 Aston Martin Vantage, but competition from second down continues to be close, with lots of on-track battles resulting from alternate strategies being played out.

The #67 Ford GT and #92 Porsche 911 RSR continue to be the protagonists of the fight for second, and touched while battling for position. Harry Tincknell in the Ford was busy fending off Michael Christenen at the Michelin chicane, the duo making contact coming out of the corner. Having been forced to the outside for Mulsanne, Christensen switched back exiting the corner, using his momentum to streak ahead by the time they reached Indianapolis. The duo pit soon afterwards, and the order between the two was reversed soon after.

GTE AM

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

2nd – #90 TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage – Yoluc/Hankey/Bell

3rd – #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Ried/Cairoli/Dienst

Tracy Krohn livened up the otherwise stagnant GTE Am class with a trip through the gravel at Mulsanne. The lime green Ferrari 488 GTE just avoided the tyre barriers at the edge of the track, but Krohn spilled plenty of loose gravel onto the circuit when returning to the road. Despite the off, he continues in 10th place.