Le Mans 24H: Toyota duo quietly leads, electrical woes tangle LMP2 category at halfway point

A range of drama occurred whilst others settled into the race approaching the 12-hour mark at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Round 7 of the WEC.

After a 35 minute safety car period, speculation rose over the retiree #55 Am car as it had contact with the #22 United Autosports of Filipe Albuquerque.

ByKolles’ rear-wing/tail complex fell apart which sent Le Mans rookie Bruno Spengler into a spin after the Dunlop hill. It retired due to the damage accumulated.

Another safety car was deployed in light of another crash from the #30 Duqueine Team of Tristan Gommendy, into the armco barrier on the Mulsanne Straight.

It retired following the damage picked up from minor contact with the #22, both amongst the leading runners in LMP2.

The #8 TGR of Nakajima was pitted into the garage as the team fully resolved the recurring brake duct-cooling issue during the safety car period.

Further LMP2 reliability drama occured as the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing stopped as the car appeared to turn off. It was stationary for up to 30 minutes but headed into the garage.

The Toyota #8 car spent up to 9 minutes in that repair, but rejoined behind the #1 Rebellion and got past in quick succession.

Twice in the threshold of two hours, the #16 G Drive Racing by Algarve in the hands Oliver Jarvis suffered electronic issues.

The gearbox loop, steering wheel and bell-housing were changed due to an alternator failure and that car sat for an hour and 20 minutes in the garage.

A slow zone was implemented down from the safety car period as marshalls set on repairing the armco barrier damaged earlier.

A first sign of rain was being reported at Mulsanne Corner by the Porsche GT Team, with 16 hours and 35 minutes to go.

The GTE-Am leading #75 Iron Lynx were put into the garage after running into reliability issues, thus allowing Ross Gunn of the #98 AMR to take first in Am during the eighth hour.

A safety car was deployed shortly after the #75’s woes in order to retrieve the vehicles that were working on repairing the armco barrier in light of the #30’s crash into it (Mulsanne Straight).

On lap 119, the partially-fogged up track went green and a fierce battle between Alex Brundle and Jean-Eric Vergne between their #32 and #26 cars for the LMP2 lead. Vergne served a drive-through earlier.

As Roman Rusinov took over from JEV in the #26, the United Autosports team secured 1-2 (#32 in front of #32) positions in LMP2.

Will Stevens rejoined in the #37 at 10pm, 20 laps down on the LMP2 leader after their extensive repair job (two-days worth of work). Their LMP2 retired and was disqualified due to receiving ‘physical’ assistance to restart the car.

GTE Pro and Am lead battles heated up, as the #97 AMR took the #71 for the lead at Mulsanne Corner.

Rusinov encountered (throttle) electrical issues that saw him stop and perform an electrical reset over six times in two laps, dropping the car to fifth and into the garage for 40 seconds.

Another confirmed LMP2 retirement was the #16 G-Drive By Algarve Racing having pitted for two hours to address an electrical issue.

The #33 also faced electrical gremlins and ended up retiring, whilst the #38 had a puncture.

A positive was the eventual climb of the #36 into eighth after their problems after the first lap.

The GTE categories had a few fights, but settled into their places at the halfway point as rain had not arrived, yet.

Sam Bird’s #71 AF Corse faced a puncture on the Mulsanne, diminishing any podium pursuit.

1 #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing LMP1
2 #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing LMP1
3 #1 Rebellion Racing LMP1
4 #3 Rebellion Racing LMP1
5 #32 United Autosports LMP2
6 #22 United Autosports LMP2
7 #38 JOTA LMP2
8 #31 Panis Racing LMP2
9 #39 SO24-HAS By Graff LMP2
10 #26 G-Drive Racing LMP2
11 #27 Dragonspeed USA LMP2
12 #36 Signatech Alpine Elf LMP2
13 #42 COOL Racing LMP2
14 #28 IDEC Sport LMP2
15 #50 Richard Mille Racing Team LMP2
16 #47 Cetilar Racing LMP2
17 #25 Algrave Pro Racing LMP2
18 #21 Dragonspeed USA LMP2
19 #17 IDEC Sport LMP2
20 #34 Inter Europol Competition LMP2
21 #29 Racing Team Nederland LMP2
22 #35 Eurasia Motorsport LMP2
23 #51 AF Corse LM-GTE Pro
24 #97 Aston Martin Racing LM-GTE Pro
25 #95 Aston Martin Racing LM-GTE Pro
26 #24 Nielsen Racing LMP2
27 #91 Porsche GT Team LM-GTE Pro
28 #82 Risi Competizione LM-GTE Pro
29 #98 Aston Martin Racing LM-GTE Am
30 #90 TF Sport LM-GTE Am
31 #83 AF Corse LM-GTE Am
32 #71 AF Corse LM-GTE Pro
33 #56 Team Project 1 LM-GTE Am
34 #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing LM-GTE Am
35 #63 WeatherTech Racing LM-GTE Pro
36 #86 Gulf Racing LM-GTE Am
37 #61 Luzich Racing LM-GTE Am
38 #66 JMW Motorsport LM-GTE Am
39 #99 Dempsey-Proton Racing LM-GTE Am
40 #78 Proton Competition LM-GTE Am
41 #85 Iron Lynx LM-GTE Am
42 #60 Iron Lynx LM-GTE Am
43 #72 Hub Auto Racing LM-GTE Am
44 #54 AF Corse LM-GTE Am
45 #62 Red River Sport LM-GTE Am
46 #75 Iron Lynx LM-GTE Am
47 #92 Porsche GT Team LM-GTE Pro
48 #89 Team Project 1 LM-GTE Am
49 #57 Team Project 1 LM-GTE Am
50 #70 MR Racing LM-GTE Am
51 #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing LM-GTE Am
52 (RETIRED) #33 High Class Racing LMP2
53 (RETIRED) #52 AF Corse LM-GTE Am
54 (DISQUALIFIED) #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2
55 (RETIRED) #16 G-Drive Racing By Algarve LMP2
56 (RETIRED) #30 Duqueine Team LMP2
57 (RETIRED) #4 ByKolles Racing LMP1
58 (RETIRED) #55 Spirit of Race LM-GTE Am
59 (RETIRED) #11 Eurointernational LMP2