While three of the classes at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans have at least a lap between their leaders and their nearest challengers the LMGTE Pro class continues to deliver the closest racing on track with the balance of power flowing one way, then other during the eighteenth hour of the race.
In the first half of the hour the advantage was with Stefan Mucke and the Aston Martin Racing #97 team, the German able to close in on Giancarlo Fisichella in the AF Corse Ferrari that led the class at the time.
Suck was the Aston’s greater pace that Mucke was able to drag past the Ferrari before turning into the first chicane that interrupts the Mulsanne Straight.
However, in the second half of the hour and with Bruno Senna and Gianmaria Bruni in for new stints in the Aston and Ferrari respectively Bruni was able to begin the process of closing back in, promising another round of the bout that has run through almost the entire race thus far.
Aston Martin Racing’s #95 continues to lead LMGTE Am class. However, the class gave the hour – and the race one of its lighter moments.
While performing a driver change the driver’s door on the #75 ProSpeed Competition Porsche fell off, the look and body language from the outgoing driver one that spoke of fatigue confused disbelief. The door was reattached, but half way around the track on it’s out lap the left-rear wheel parted company with the rest of the car leaving it stranded at the far end of the Mulsanne Straight.
Eslewhere the #1 Audi continues to lead with a lap advantage over the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
Examples of the new Ligier JSP2 run first and second in LMP2 the OAK Racing example leading the way – as it has done for much of the race – from the Thiriet by TDS Racing entry. Signatech Alpine hold third place in the class.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 18 hours
1 – #1 Audi Sport Team Joest – di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen
2 – #20 Porsche Team – Bernhard/Webber/Hartley
3 – #2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
1 – #35 Oak Racing – Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy
2 – #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing – Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy
3 – #36 Signatech Alpine – Chatin/Panciatici/Webb
1 – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Turner/Mücke/Senna
2 – #51 AF Corse – Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella
3 – #92 Porsche Team Manthey – Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz
1 – #95 Aston Martin Racing – Poulsen/Heinemeier Hansson/Thiim
2 – #88 Proton Competition – Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi
3 – #61 AF Corse – Perez Companc/Cioci/Venturi