The nineteenth hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans passed without spectacular incident in LMP1. The #1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron Quattro continued to lead with Marc Gene at the wheel. Mark Webber took the #20 Porsche Motorsport Porsche 919 Hybrid through his fourth stint to hand over to Timo Bernhard.
The sole surviving Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Nicolas Lapierre fought to catch up to the podium spots, setting some of the hours fastest laps. Lapierre wasn’t able to maintain a consistent fast pace, the Toyota continues eight laps off the lead and six behind the #1 Audi of Marcel Fassler who held the final podium spot. Fassler handed over to Andre Lotterer, Lapierre gave way to Sebastien Buemi.
Drama rocked the order in LMP2 though as first the #36 Alpine of Signatech Alpine took to the pit lane with a collapsed suspension upright. That kicked off the hour which took further intrigue when #35 Ligier of G-Drive by OAK Racing came into the pits and went to the garage. The engine cover came off and the team set to work.
Soon after, the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Ligier came in for a scheduled stop, took fuel and a clean screen and rocketed off for Pierre Thiriet to take the lead of the class.
There were similar dramas in LM GTE Pro where the battle which had raged in the class for nineteen hours between the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE of Bruno Senna and the AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni was finally decided. After a fantastically brave move at Mulsanne Corner, the #97 Aston Martin reclaimed the lead of the class, lost in the dying moments of the eighteenth hour.
The Vantage would let Senna down though, smoking horribly when it came for service. The team fueled the car and brought it into the garage. Twelve minutes later they had replaced the power steering belt but lost five laps to the now uncontested leader. That promoted the recovering Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz to second place. Corvette also returned to the podium spots with the #73 car of Jordan Taylor, on a recovery drive of its own after dropping out of the lead battle yesterday evening.
LM GTE Am then would need to be the class which provided us with a modicum of stability. The #95 Aston Martin, driven by Nikki Thiim, Kristian Poulson and David Heinemeier-Hansson continued to lead the field with the #88 Porsche of Proton Competition in a solid second place. A lap further behind came the #61 Ferrari 458 Italia of Luis Perez Companc, Marco Cioci and Mirko Venturi, which grappled at long range with the Krohn Racing machine.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 19 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 – #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing – Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy
2 –#35 Oak Racing – Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy
3 -#38 JOTA Sport – Dolan/Tinknell/Turvey
1 –#51 AF Corse – Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella
2 –#92 Porsche Team Manthey – Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz
3 –##73 Corvette Racing Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor
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