24 Hours of Le MansFIA WEC

2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Hour 4 update – Toyota remain in control as GTE Pro battle spreads out

3 Mins read
Credit: Craig Robertson

The Toyota Gazoo Racing duo enjoy a comfortable lead of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans at the end of the fourth hour, with a lead of over 2 laps from the #17 SMP Racing car of Egor Orudzhev.

Meanwhile, a puncture for the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car of Gabriel Aubry at the mid-way point of the hour has turned the race on its head following the requirement of a safety car intervention.

Most significantly, this has meant that in GTE Pro, the battle between Porsche and Ford has been disrupted with the #92 Porsche GT of Kevin Estre having a lead of over a lap from the chasing GT pack behind.

In the LMP1 privateer battle, the #17 SMP Racing is keeping the number #3 Rebellion Racing entry of Mathias Beche at bay, while the number #1 Rebellion has been able to recover to fifth position after being involved in the first lap crash with the Toyota pair.

At the end of the fourth hour, Jose Maria Lopez in the #7 Toyota had a lead of five seconds over Fernando Alonso after the number #8 machine made its sixth pit stop of the race, with Lopez having a puncture early in his first stint, which was followed by a safety car.

G-Drive dominant in LMP2

Andrea Pizzitola in the #26 G-Drive Racing entry is enjoying a comfortable lead of a minute and a half after taking over from ABB FIA Formula E Championship leader, Jean-Eric Vergne.

Julien Canal was second at the end of the four-hour mark in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Liger, although they had yet to make their sixth pit-stop of the race. Pierre Thirret in the #36 Signatech Alpine was third.

The #47 Villobra Corse Dallara, with Felipe Nasr beached in the gravel at Arnage, which has put them on the back foot.

Safety car disrupts GTE Pro battle

At the beginning of the fourth hour, we had a thrilling battle in prospect, with Laurens Vanthoor in the #92 Porsche making a daring pass on the sister #91 machine, then the #68 Ford GT of Sebastien Bourdais jumped ahead of Vanthoor down the Mulsanne straight.

However, with the safety car deployed right in the middle of the pit window this changed the complexion of the race.

Vanthoor had pitted just before the safety car, relinquishing the wheel of the #92 to Kevin Estre, while the #91 Porsche and the #68 Ford were held at pit exit for over a minute.

This meant that the #69 Ford of Scott Dixon and the #81 BMW M8 of Nick Catsburg moved up to second and third positions. At the safety car restart, Catsburg quickly moved ahead of Dixon to take second.

Behind them was Ferrari young driver, Antonio Giovinazzi, who was fourth in the #52 Ferrari being the  first of the AF Corse Ferraris, with Harry Ticknell in the #67 Ford being next up.

They were followed by Joey Hand in the #68 For and Richard Lietz in the #91 Porsche, who after battling for the lead had dropped down to eighth and ninth in class.

Porsche maintain control in GTE-Am

Matt Campbell had left off from where Julien Andlauer was to consolidate a one-minute lead in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche.

Behind them was Matt Griffin the number #84 JMW Ferrari, with the second Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister in the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche.

2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Standings after 4 Hours

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. #23 Panis Barthez Competition – Ligier JSP217 – Gibson – Thimothé Buret – Julien Canal –  Will Stevens
  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. #81 BMW Team MTEK – BMW M8 GTE – Martin Tomczyk – Nicky Catsburg – Philipp Eng
  3. #69 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA – Ford GT – Ryan Briscoe –  Richard Westbrook – Scott Dixon

GTE-Am

  1. #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Matt Campbell – Christian Ried – Julien Andlauer
  2. #84 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari 488 GTE –  Liam Griffin – Cooper Macneil – Jeffrey Segal
  3. #86 Gulf Racing – Porsche 911 RSR –  Michael Wainwright –  Benjamin Barker – Alexander Davison.
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NCTJ Graduate and nominated finalist for Sir William Lyons Award in November 2018. Formula E and Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy TCF correspondent.
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