24 Hours of Le MansFIA WEC

2024 24 Hours Of Le Mans: A Gripping Morning Stint

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The safety car prepared to come in following a mammoth 4.5 hour phase. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

After a somewhat muted overnight stint dominated by safety car periods, the morning stint of the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans delivered an enthralling, intriguing race, setting up an extraordinary finish. With three hours to go, the #2 Cadillac Racing car leads the way, followed by the #50 Ferrari AF Corse and the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car, three titans of the FIA World Endurance Championship battling for glory.

In LMP2, IDEC Sport are currently leading, followed by the 2023 winners Inter Europol Competition. Manthey EMA have led since the early hours in LMGT3, with the #31 Team WRT BMW M4 LMGT3 in second, the sister car of the #46 that unfortunately had to retire in the night.

For our race report on the first 6 hours, click here. For the overnight update, click here.

Race Report: 06:00 – 12:00 (GMT)

An all too familiar sight overnight at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

After a mammoth safety car period of over 4 hours, the field got ready to restart racing with 7 hours and 50 minutes to go. The starting order was #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing, #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport, #50 Ferrari AF Corse, and #7 Toyota. AF Corse led the way in LMP2, while a duo of Porsches led LMGT3. One mighty train of the 52 remaining cars prepared to get underway.

First casualty under green flag racing was Nyck de Vries in the #7 Toyota, having to stop after one lap of racing to clear the windscreen, the Dutch driver having been unable to see anything. His Toyota dropped down to 11th in the field, out of the points, due to the field being so close together. Similarly, the leading Manthey PureRxing car in LMGT3 plummeted down the order after having to come into the pit garage for a lengthy period due to gearbox and electrical issues, handing the lead to the Manthey EMA Porsche.

The #91 Manthey EMA Porsche led LMGT3 for the majority of the morning. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

Meanwhile, the gap between the leaders remained at a steady 2 seconds as they pulled away from the chasing pack, that gap remaining consistent after their pit stops. Toyota split their strategy and put the #7 car on slicks to test the track conditions. With the sun out, the track dried rapidly and the leaders pitted to return to slicks with at 17:15:00 race time. The number #6 Porsche took advantage of a slow zone five minutes later, pitting for soft tyres and emerging in the lead comfortably in front of the Toyota.

The #7 Toyota, back up to 3rd, was engaged in a great battle with Antonio Fuoco in the #50 Ferrari and Robert Shwartzman in the #83 Ferrari which had led the race for a substantial chunk of the action. That was brought to an abrupt halt at 17:30:00 race time as the third safety car period was called, this time due to an enormous crash for Daniel Mancinelli. The Italian driver was avoiding a Hypercar coming through the inside on the run to Indianapolis and was spat off into the barriers at huge speed, rolling the Aston Martin.

The handsome Heart of Racing Aston Martin suffered a huge crash to end its race. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

Due to reshuffling pit stops during the safety car period, the top 5 at the end of the safety car period was #2 Cadillac, #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport, #83 AF Corse Ferrari, #50 Ferrari AF Corse, and #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing, the previous race leaders in 6th and 7th. Green flag racing resumed with 5:27:10 left on the clock. The top six provided excellent nose to tail racing as soon as they could, the two Ferraris battling for position as two seconds covered the first 7 drivers.

Fuoco made an extraordinary move on #5 Porsche on lap 230, diving up the inside on the wet track on the run to Indianapolis, a corner which has seen so much drama in this race, taking the lead of the race as #2 Cadillac had pitted beforehand. Earl Bamber cycled back into the lead when the top 5 all pitted together, leading by over 8 seconds, setting up a fascinating ebb and flow race in the final 5 hours of racing.

Vector Sport was leading LMP2 before being caught and overtaken by the Inter Europol Competition car. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

S├ębastian Buemi finally managed to get his #8 Toyota into 2nd with a lovely move around the outside of Shwartzman at the Mulsanne corner on lap 245. The Toyota was then released to chase down the race leading #50 Ferrari. In LMP2, 2023 winners Inter Europol Competition had closed the gap to the leading #10 Vector Sport car to less than a second, overtaking at Indianapolis, the #34 car taking the lead as the 20th hour of racing got underway.

At the start of the 20th hour, heartbreak for the #83 Ferrari. As the car pitted, smoke billowed out of the front of the car, meaning the driver had to bail from the car, a sad end for a very strong race for a car that had been competing for the win. The team later reported the retirement was due to a total electrical blackout. The race now looked to be between the #2 Cadillac, both Toyotas, and the remaining two Ferrari 449Ps. Alex Palou in the Cadillac managed to maintain the gap ahead of the Toyotas. Indeed, on lap 253, Palou set the fastest lap of the race with a 3:28.938. Kobayashi responded in the Toyota the following lap with a 3:28.756.

#2 Cadillac put up a great fight all through the race. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

With 3 hours 15 minutes left to race, the Cadillac maintained its lead with Miguel Molina getting up to 2nd ahead of the #8 Toyota. The weather forecast suggests that anything between light drizzle to heavy rain is scheduled to fall over the last three hours of Le Mans. This enthralling race is far from over.

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