As the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans reaches the crucial final few hours, battles were on for the crucial positions in a number of categories as teams looked to roll the dice with less than four hours to go.
In the lead LMP1 category, Marc Lieb and Anthony Davidson were battling hammering and tongs as the world’s fastest chess match played out on track. Lieb led in the Porsche 919 Hybrid for a good chunk of the hour, but Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Davidson was on a charge and he made sure to get past on track rather than waiting for pit strategy to play itself out.
It also didn’t help that the tyres on the #2 Porsche were well past their prime, with Davidson’s tyres significantly fresher.
Having a worse time was the #8 Audi R18 as Oliver Jarvis slowed going down towards Indianapolis and once he limped round, the car was pushed back into the garage with what is thought to be a hybrid power issue.
The second prototype class, LMP2, saw Gustavo Menezes do the business in the Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan as he kept putting in quick laps to give Will Stevens in the G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 not even a sniff of the lead, that said Stevens was not exactly under pressure from behind as Vitaly Petrov’s SMP Racing BRo1 was a few laps down on the distinctive orange prototype.
GTE Pro saw the ertswhile leader Matteo Malucelli in the Risi Competizione tried his best but was ultimately powerless to stop Joey Hand’s #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford GT from blasting past on the run down the Mulsanne and into the lead of the class having knocked the lead down by at least a second for half a dozen laps during the midpoint of the hour.
The battles was just between them though as the second Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe found himself a lap down due to a differing pit strategy which was putting him back into a battle with Darren Turner’s Aston Martin.
GTE Am had no such battles as Townsend Bell continued to manage that class’s race in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia as Khaled Al Qubaisi in the Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR had no answer to the American’s pace. In third, Rui Aguas was sitting comfortable in second in the AF Corse Ferrari.
A bit further down in that class there was one incident of note as the Team AAI Corvette C7.R of Mark Patterson found itself staring straight at the tyre wall after failing to negotiate the the Forza Motorsport Chicane.