Half way through the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans the top six overall is filled by three teams. Toyota Gazoo Racing leads the way over the two Rebellion Racing cars, with the duo of United Autosports cars leading LMP2.
Since the three Safety Cars at the beginning of this quarter of the race, Toyota have held a dominant position at the front of the field. The #8 ended the last quarter in the lead, but during the second Safety Car, due to a big off from the #4 ByKolles Racing Team, the team took the chance to change the brake ducts on the car that had been causing it issues. The visit to the garage lost the team a lot of time, putting them a lap down on the sister car.
The top four are currently split by at least a lap between each car, showing not too much competition in LMP1. The rain threat that has been due all evening still has not shown, and the predictions are now showing the storms may miss the Circuit de la Sarthe entirely. With no issues and no weather to mix up the order, the race appears to be #7’s to lose.
Sadly the ByKolles car has been lost from this race, with the damage suffered going into the barrier too much for the team to repair, even though the car made it back to the pits and came back out on track. The car joins the list of seven cars that have retired from this race.
Drama continued in LMP2, with the lead changing three times after teams had competitive advantages on the field. First the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing car lost the lead of the class during the second Safety Car period of the race. It was unlucky for them that their pit stop occurred during the Safety Car and they got stuck a pit exit, allowing the #26 G-Drive Racing up into the lead. The stop was so costly for the #37 that the #26 even took a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags and retained class P1.
The situation was made worse for them when they car broke down on track. A mechanic handed Ho Pin Tung a part to fit to the Jackie Chan car so it could keep racing, but because the driver had outside help to get the car restarted, it broke the rules of re-entering the race and was disqualified.
The curse of P1 in LMP2 struck again as the G-Drive stopped out on track an hour later. Engine power failure saw the car stranded out on track, but restarting the car enable the driver to get the car moving again. Thinking the issue was fixed, Roman Rusinov attempted to carry on racing, not coming into the pits at the end of the lap. But this only saw the car hit with the same issue again. It had to limp back to the pits, and even though its time in the garage was only around three minutes, the additional time lost trying to get back to the pits cost the car a lot. It currently sits P6 in class.
United Autosport showed consistency and speed over the six hours and by the end of it had a dominant one-two in class. The #32 had been the car leading for most of the six hours, but Paul di Resta managed to catch the sister car in the last ten minutes and move up into the lead.
In GTE Pro, the battle between AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing continued on to the halfway point, with the #51 Ferrari keeping the advantage. The #71 had been competitively in third, but a rear puncture caused a lot of damage to the rear and brakes meaning it had to be pushed back into the garage for a short period of time. At the end of the hour, the #97 Aston Martin was 11 seconds behind the leading AF Corse, with the sister Aston Martin a lap down on the leading pair.
The works Am Aston Martin continued to be dominant throughout the second quarter of the race, keeping the challenging AF Corse #83 at bay for the lead of the class. In the final hour, #90 TF Sport utilised a great pit stop strategy to jump the works car, taking charge of the class. 3.5 seconds split the two Aston Martin customer teams at the end of the 12th hour, suggesting a great battle will be on our hands moving into the second half of the race.
53 cars remain circling around the track, after the #4, #11 Eurotinernational, #55 Spirit of Race, #52 AF Corse, #33 High Class Racing, #30 Duqueine Team, #16 G-Drive Racing by Algarve and the #37 Jackie Chan car have retired from the race.
Although it was assumed retired at the start of the race, the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing returned to the circuit. It is 89 laps down on the leaders, 50 down on the closest car, but the fact that it continued to run meant that Dominique Bastian has had a stint in the car. By partaking in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he has become the oldest competitor to take part in the race at 74 years old.