2019 24 Hours of Le Mans – Hour 12 Update – Halfway Havoc

by Alice Holloway
17 SMP Racing lost a comfortable third overall as the car retired.

The last few hours have been filled with safety cars and full course yellows as the number of retirees has increased to six cars.

Both of the stopped LMP1 cars came to a halt within a few laps of each other in hour ten. The #10 DragonSpeed was the first, grinding to a halt at Arnage corner. The LMP1 car, out on its final race in the class, has been struggling with gearbox issues throughout the race and was over 45 laps down on the rest of the field before it came to a stop. A suspect gearbox failure put the car out of the race as it failed to restart.

This only brought out localised yellow flags, but the #17 SMP Racing brought out a full safety car. Around half an hour after the #10 had stopped, Egor Orudzhev lost the car coming into the Porsche Curves and slid sideways into the outside tyre barrier. The car then pitched nose-first into the barrier, causing too much damage to the car for Orudzhev to get it back to the pits. This was a massive shame for the team as they had been running a strong third in class.

Toyota Gazoo Racing still hold the top two spots in class, but however unlucky the #7 seems to get with getting held in the pits during safety cars or making mistakes going into the gravel, it just appears to have the pace to catch the sister car. On two occasions the #7 has lost a 1m40s buffer to the #8 car in a pit stop, ending up about six seconds behind them. It has taken them merely a couple of laps to get back in front.

After the SMP crashed out, the #3 Rebellion Racing has inherited third overall.

With the LMP1 cars having issues and crashing, this has brought the leading LMP2 car to sixth overall. A few more issues for the LMP1s could potentially see an LMP2 on the overall podium, something that hasn’t been seen since the extremely hot race of 2017.

G-Drive Racing hold a strong advantage over the #36 Signatech Alpine after they got very lucky in both safety car periods in the last six hours. The buffer now stands at around two minutes, putting Jean-Eric Vergne, Job van Uitert and Roman Rusinov in a very good position.

Third in class is being tightly fought over between the #31 DragonSpeed and #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing. The advantage is currently with the Chinese-backed team as we go into the second half of the race.

G-Drive Racing holds a nice advantage on the rest of the LMP2 carrs thanks to some luck with the safety car
Credit: Race Photography

Nothing seems to be going Aston Martin‘s way since the Balance of Performance revisions published on Friday. Not only have they not been on the pace at all, but both of their cars have had impacts with the barriers. Alex Lynn in the #97 got away lightly when his brakes seemed to fail on the Mulsanne Straight. He hit the barrier, but was able to limp the car home for brake repairs and more black racing tape on the lime green livery.

Marco Sorensen was sadly not as lucky. He lost the car going into Arnage and made heavy contact with the tyre barrier. Like Orudzhev, there was too much damage for the Danish driver to be able to recover the car to the pits. It does seem like the BoP shift ruined Aston Martin’s race before it even started this year, with neither of the two Pro cars looking like they were ever on the same pace as the rest of the field. The sole remaining Aston Martin Racing car now sits bottom of the class, three laps off the next competitor.

The #71 AF Corse is currently in the pits at time of publishing. It has been in the pits for over an hour with an issue. It is not currently known what is keeping the Ferrari off the track.

Earlier damage sustained by the #98 Am Aston Martin has been deduced as the cause of the car retiring from the race. Pedro Lamy was onboard when the car shuddered to a stop down the Mulsanne Straight, with the power cutting out. Nothing more could be done to keep the car moving, adding more sorrow to the British manufacturers’ race.

The #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing declared shortly after the start of hour seven that they would take no further part in the 24-hour race. Heavy damage sustained in both of the incidents became too much to be able to race with.

In terms of the FIA World Endurance Championship Drivers’ titles that are being fought over, if the current result stood at the chequered flag, all of the current class leaders would win their respective titles.

2019 24 Hours of Le Mans – Standings After 12 Hours

LMP1

1. #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – José María López
2. #8  Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Fernando Alonso – Sébastien Buemi – Kazuki Nakajima
3. #3 Rebellion Racing – Rebellion R13 – Gibson –Nathanaël Berthon – Thomas Laurent – Gustavo Menezes

LMP2

1. #26 G-Drive Racing – Aurus 01 – Gibson – Roman Rusinov – Job Van Uitert – Jean-Éric Vergne
2. #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut – Alpine A470 – Gibson – Nicolas Lapierre – André Negrâo – Pierre Thiriet
3. #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing – Oreca 07 – Gibson – Gabriel Aubry – Stéphane Richelmi – Ho-Pin Tung

GTE Pro

1. #92 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Michael Christensen – Kevin Estre – Laurens Vanthoor
2. #51 AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE – James Calado – Alessandro Pier Guidi – Daniel Serra
3. #91 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Gianmaria Bruni – Richard Lietz – Frédéric Makowiecki

GTE Am

1. #85 Keating Motorsports – Ford GT – Jeroen Bleekemolen – Felipe Fraga – Ben Keating
2. #90 TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage GTE – Charlie Eastwood – Euan Hankey – Salih Yoluç
3. #56 Team Project 1 – Porsche 911 RSR – Jörg Bergmeister – Patrick Lindsey – Egidio Perfetti

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