2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Hour 1 update – Toyota in charge while GTE Pro battle intensifies


Credit: Craig Robertson

Sebastien Buemi led the field through the first lap of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans which saw an accident in the Dunlop curves as a result of flying bodywork on their first time through.

With the Toyota’s heading up the field, Andre Lotterer in the Rebellion Racing car challenged the #8 Toyota, clipping the back of the car, as a result of the contact the former Le Mans winner lost the nose of the car under braking which slide in to the #10 Dragonspeed car, tapping it in to a spin. The Rebellion car would limp around the lap with front bodywork missing before a pitstop to get the car back out on track.

There was drama even before the start when the ByKolles didn’t get going off of the grid for the formation lap, as the field pulled away Tom Dillmann was left on his own. When he did eventually get away he spun in to the Dunlop curves.

Ten minutes in the race the raindrops started to come down, thankfully not enough to disrupt the pace or disrupt the grip levels.

While the two Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050’s shared the lead, behind them there was a battle breaking out between the #3 Rebellelion Racing car and the #17 SMP Racing car, driven by the highly experienced Stéphane Sarrazin who gave the perfect example on how to thread through the GT traffic.

As the clock ticked over to 23 hours remaining, the #8 Toyota of Buemi was firmly in control of the action, the #7 sister car in second place and the #17 SMP Racing machine in third.

G-Drive head up LMP2 class

FIA Formula E points leader Jean-Eric Vergne in the #26 G-Drive Racing car heads up the LMP2 field on the hour, with Le Mans winner Loïc Duval pushing hard from second place.

Nicholas Lapierre holds third place as the class remains consistent.

Credit: Craig Robertson

Multi-manufacturer battle breaks out in GTE Pro after initial Porsche domination

The battle at the front of the GTE Pro category looks set to be an interesting one as Porsche led the way, Ford, Ferrari, Corvette and BMW were all battling door-to-door, this battle will be sure to continue throughout the race, and definitely one to watch.

Gianmaria Bruni and Kevin Estre took the #91 and #92 in to the lead of the class, and despite being team-mates, Estre was stuck to the back of the sister car, getting very close at times.

At the end of the hour the #92 ‘Pink Pig’ Porsche was in control of the action, the #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA car was in second place, and the #91 in third.

Porsche and Ferrari show their pace in GTE Am

Meanwhile the GTE Am class was headed up by veteran Giancarlo Fisichella in the #54 Spirit Of Race – Ferrari 488 GTE. With experience leading the way a young charger in the shape of Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR was pushing on hard in second place.

By the end of the hour Ben Barker had wrestled the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche in to the lead of the class. The #54 Ferrari remains in the battle in second place, with the #88 Porsche in third.

The only major incident in the class for the hours was the #85 Keating Motorsports – Ferrari 488 GTE in the hands of Jeroen Bleekemolen, who suffered a spin through Porsche curves as the back end switched around. A brief trip through the gravel trap and one pitstop later he was back out on track.

2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Standings after 1 Hour

LMP1

  1. #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – Jose Maria Lopez
  2. #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Sébastien Buemi – Kazuki Nakajima – Fernando Alonso
  3. #17 SMP Racing – BR Engineering BR1 – Gibson – Stéphane Sarrazin – Egor Orudzhev – Matevos Isaakyan

LMP2

  1. #26 G-Drive Racing – Oreca 07 – Gibson – Roman Rusinov – Andrea Pizzitola – Jean-Eric Vergne
  2. #28 TDS Racing – Oreca 07 – Gibson – François Perrodo – Matthieu Vaxiviere – Loïc Duval
  3. #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut – Alpine A470 – Gibson – Nicolas Lapierre – Andre Negra0 – Pierre Thiriet

GTE Pro

  1. #92 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Michael Christensen – Kevin Estre – Laurens Vanthoor
  2. #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA – Ford GT – Joey Hand – Dirk Müller – Sébastien Bourdais
  3. #91 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Richard Lietz – Gianmaria Bruni – Frédéric Makowiecki

GTE Am

  1. #86 Gulf Racing – Porsche 911 RSR –  Michael Wainwright –  Benjamin Barker – Alexander Davison
  2. #54 Spirit Of Race – Ferrari 488 GTE – Thomas Flohr – Francesco Castellacci – Giancarlo Fisichella
  3. #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Matteo Cairoli – Khaled Al Qubaisi – Giorgio Roda