As the third hour came and went at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche showed their continued strength as incidents and mishaps befell the Audis.
The hour started with a prototype in strife, with the LMP2 Krohn Racing Ligier-Judd finding itself in the gravel trap at the first chicane on the Mulsanne as Tracy Krohn went in a touch too hot and nudged the #30 Rolling Stone backed ESM Ligier. Thankfully no harm came to either car and were both free to carry on.
That only required a brief spell of yellow flags but Timo Bernhard must have felt green around the gills as his lead in the #17 Porsche came to an abrupt end in the first ten minutes of the third hour with Andre Lotterer taking no prisoners in getting through to the lead of the race.
As that was going on, the #96 GTE Am Aston Martin found itself in a spot of bother as an off at the Ford Chicane saw quite a bit of front end damage which saw the car need to pit.
In LMP2, the KCMG Oreca 05 with Nico Lapierre at the wheel, remained impervious to everything going on around him and kept on stretching his lead on all of those around him. The Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca put up a worthy challenge, but Lapierre and his Oreca is a solid package.
Back at the top of the time sheets and Lotterer was having grief as only three laps after his scheduled pit stop he picked up a puncture so had to pit the #7 and change tyres – as well as letting Benoit Treluyer take over.
In the GTE Pro class, Aston Martin and Ferrari carried on their yearly ding-dongs with the #97 of Stefan Mucke taking on the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado with back and forth taking place all around the track for the class lead. As the hour ended the #97 was in the lead, but Bruni wasn’t letting him relax.
In the Am section of GTE, we treated to a sight of American thunder as the TI Automotive Viper – driven for the third hour by Jeroen Bleekemolen – keep the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari and the #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche behind him through rounds of pit stops.
That is how they stayed as the minute hand of fate ticked towards the start of the fourth hour as the #8 Audi of Lucas Di Grassi suddenly came across a group of slower cars at the start of a slow zone at Indianapolis, and couldn’t slow down in time.
The ensuing chaos saw the Audi spin in front of the GTE Pro field and hit the barrier on the outside of the track. He managed to get back to the pits but the safety car was called for as the barriers were repaired.
Top 3 positions after Hour 3 of the 83rd 24 Hours of Le Mans
- #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid – Webber/Hartley/Bernhard
- #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid – Jani/Lieb/Dumas
- #19 Porsche 919 Hybrid – Hulkenburg/Bamber/Tandy
- #47 KCMG Oreca 05 – Nissan – Howson/Lapierre/Bradley
- #46 Thirlet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 -Nissan – Thiriet/Badey/Gommendi
- #36 Signatech Alpine – Nissan – Panciatici/Chatin/Capillaire
LM GTE Pro
- #97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 –
- #71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia –
- #64 Corvette Racing – Turner/Mucke/Bell
LM GTE Am
- #53 TI Automotive Dodge Viper – Bleekemolen/Miller/Keating
- #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia – Shaitar/Bertolini/Basov
- #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche 991 – Reid/Al Qubaisi/Bachler
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