Following on from the chaos of the past two hours, the lead up to the half-way point of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been a much more serene affair. As Nick Tandy – at the wheel of the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid – continues to lead overall, the Vaillante Rebellion pair are as close as ever to one another in the battle for second.
1st – #1 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Jani/Lotterer/Tandy
2nd – #2 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley
3rd – #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima
With two of three Toyotas now out, and the biggest field spread of any class, there is no on-track action to be found in the LMP1 category. The lead Porsche has a 19 lap lead over its stablemate, and 30 lap advantage over the sole remaining Toyota.
The race for the #2 Porsche is far from over though. Earl Bamber & co. have reduced their deficit to the Rebellion cars to 9 laps, and in theory have a reasonable chance of catching them before the chequered flag drops, assuming the car has no further issues.
1st – #13 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Piquet Jr/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche
2nd – #38 CEFC Manor TRS Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson – Tung/Laurent/Jarvis
2nd – #31 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Prost/Senna/Canal
The #31 and #13 Rebellions continued their race-long push for class victory, for which there is now two places in the overall podium standings on offer. The former has a slight upper hand as they reach the half-way mark, after the #13 switched to its amateur-ranked driver David Heinemeier Hansson just before the 3am mark. With the #13 now out of sequence from its two main rivals, it sits third at the top of the hour.
While the order was reasonably steady at the sharp end of LMP2, plenty of shenanigans were afoot further down the class order. Konstantins Calko, the first Latvian driver to enter Le Mans, caused a slow zone by losing the rear of the #49 ARC Bratislava Ligier and sliding into the gravel trap at the second sequence of the Porsche Curves.
The #47 Villorba Corse Dallara was also in the wars, picking up a puncture early in the lap and leaving Giorgio Sernagiotto to crawl around La Sarthe before being able to reach pit-lane for a replacement set of rubber.
1st – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Thiim/Sørensen/Stanaway
1st – #95 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Turner/Adam/Serra
3rd – #51 AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE – Calado/Pier Guidi/Rugolo
A lead change in GTE Pro was triggered by the aforementioned slow zone involving the #49 LMP2 Dallara-Gibson. Richie Stanaway had been losing time hand over fist to the sister Aston Martin Vantage of Jonathan Adam, and exiting the slow zone, stayed off line and waited to get back up to racing speed, allowing Adam to move up into the classs lead without any delays.
The Pro class is somewhat fragmented by alternate strategies established earlier in the race, so while cars are finding themselves running close to each other much of the time, they are often doing so just before or after pit-stops. This meant that not long after conceding the lead, Stanaway found himself at the front soon after, and now holds a slender 3 second lead over the #97 Aston, which still has Adam at the wheel.
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
The battle between TF Sport and Dempsey-Proton continues to be the main story in GTE Am. Euan Hankey was able to retake the runners-up spot in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage, though Marvin Dienst continues to hover around 10 seconds behind the Brit.
Behind that pair is the#62 WeatherTech Ferrari, which holds fourth despite a collision with the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Marco Cioci in the latter car attempted a bold move around the outside of Townsend Bell at Arnage, and while he was able to gain position, he pinched Bell at the apex and forced him into a spin. The American’s exuberant attempt at a spin-turn pitched him into the grass on the inside of Arnage, before eventually getting pointed in the right direction.