Le Mans 24H: Incident-filled start in rain, Toyota leads after four hours

After an action-packed opening to Round 4 of the FIA WEC, the #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing hold the lead both overall and in the Hypercar category.

Just 40 minutes away from the start of the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans, a heavy case of rain had found itself onto the circuit.

Two hours prior, Alpine hosted their parade demonstration featuring Fernando Alonso and a Formula 1 car.

A safety car lead two extra formation laps with an abundance of standing water around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

At lights out, the Hypercars battled together into the first corner with Olivier Pla getting contact into the #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi.

Buemi fell back but put a swift charge into get into P2 overall in his triple stint, whilst Mike Conway in the #7 further established his comfortable lead.

The opening laps featured multiple dramas at the beginning of the cars looking to set the dry line, including the #36 of Lapierre and the GTE-Pro pole-sitter #72.

Corvette in GTE-Pro established a strong start to get into positions 1-2 in-class but were on the cusp of being challenged by the Ferraris, who took 1-2 off the American marque.

Porsche on the other hand faced a poor start with Kevin Estre’s lack of pace following a spin.

Heading into the second hour, the #7 extended its comfortable lead as the #8 and #6 Alpine were back up in P2 and P3.

The #708 of Olivier Pla was awarded a 10-second penalty to his first pit stop following his contact into Buemi at the start, which was served by this point.

The #22 of Filipe Albuquerque struggled to get the pace out of his Oreca LMP2 with surrounding battles and at one point went three-wide when Ben Hanley put a move on the Portuguese driver.

Porsche in GTE-Pro continued on the backfoot behind its rivals on pace.

Recently crowned Formula E World Champion Nyck De Vries pulled off an impressive overtake on Le Mans debutant Robert Kubica who was in the midst of a quadruple stint.

Antonio Felix Da Costa was asserting strong pace as he extended his LMP2 lead.

The #25 G-Drive Racing was temporarily stuck at the gravel trap (Forest Curves) which set them back in the LMP2.

Throughout the course of Hour 2 into the race, AF Corse were 1-2 in the GTE-Pro category but produced a thrilling battle as the two went wheel-to-wheel.

LMP2’s midfield featured a number of battles kept close by the long straights. Alex Lynn was in fifth fending off Kubica, with #31 teammate car Robin Frijns ahead of reigning LMP2 Le Mans winner Filipe Albuquerque.

Anthony Davidson took over and got the #38 JOTA deeply stuck in the gravel at the beginning of his first flying lap.

The LMP2-dominant #38 JOTA re-joined 1 lap and two minutes behind the #26 of Franco Colapinto who is the youngest driver in the field and lead the class.

In GTE-Am, there were six laps spent in the garage for the #86 who struggled to take the front splitter off.

The first confirmed retirement of the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours was the #98 after he suffered a crash into the tyre barrier upon entry into the Indianapolis complex.

The first safety car period ran for over 20 minutes, and the race commenced again 3 hours and 37 minutes in.

At the four-hour mark, the #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing maintains a dominant lead both overall and in the Hypercar category.

LMP2 is being led by the #28 JOTA ahead of the #23 and #65.

Daniel Serra leads a 1-2 for AF Corse in the GTE-Pro category, #51 over #52.

The reigning GTE-Am champions #83 AF Corse lead respectively in their category ahead of a number of thrilling fights.

Overall Position Category Team
1 (59 Laps) Hypercar #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing
2 Hypercar #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing
3 Hypercar #36 Alpine Elf Matmut
4 LMP2 #28 JOTA
5 LMP2 #23 United Autosports
6 LMP2 #65 Panis Racing
7 LMP2 #29 Racing Team Nederland (Pro/Am)
8 LMP2 #26 G-Drive Racing
9 Hypercar #708 Glickenhaus Racing
10 LMP2 #41 Team WRT
11 LMP2 #22 United Autosports
12 LMP2 #70 Realteam Racing (Pro/Am)
13 Hypercar #709 Glickenhaus Racing
14 LMP2 #34 Inter Europol Competition (Pro/Am)
15 LMP2 #31 Team WRT
16 LMP2 #24 PR1 Motorsports Mathiasen (Pro/Am)
17 LMP2 #32 United Autosports
18 LMP2 #1 Richard Mille Racing
19 LMP2 #48 IDEC Sport
20 LMP2 #49 High Class Racing
21 LMP2 #21 DragonSpeed USA (Pro/Am)
22 LMP2 #38 JOTA
23 LMP2 #39 SO24-DIROB by Graff (Pro/Am)
24 LMP2 #25 G-Drive Racing (Pro/Am)
25 LMP2 #20 High Class Racing (Pro/Am)
26 GTE-Pro #51 AF Corse
27 GTE-Pro #63 Corvette Racing
28 GTE-Pro #92 Porsche GT Team
29 GTE-Pro #52 AF Corse
30 GTE-Pro #79 WeatherTech Racing
31 LMP2 #30 Duqueine Team
32 GTE-Pro #64 Corvette Racing
33 LMP2 #74 Racing Team India Eurasia (Pro/Am)
34 GTE-Pro #91 Porsche GT Team
35 GTE-Am #83 AF Corse
36 LMP2 #82 Risi Competizione
37 GTE-Am #33 TF Sport
38 GTE-Am #57 Kessel Racing
39 GTE-Am #47 Cetilar Racing
40 GTE-Pro #72 Hub Auto Racing
41 GTE-Am #54 AF Corse
42 GTE-Am #55 Spirit of Race
43 GTE-Am #56 Team Project 1
44 GTE-Am #80 Iron Lynx
45 GTE-Am #388 Rinaldi Racing
46 GTE-Am #66 JMW Motorsport
47 GTE-Am #85 Iron Lynx
48 GTE-Am #71 Inception Racing
49 GTE-Am #95 TF Sport
50 GTE-Am #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing
51 GTE-Am #69 Herberth Motorsport
52 GTE-Am #46 Team Project 1
53 LMP2 #44 ARC Bratislava (Pro/Am)
54 GTE-Am #777 D’station Racing
55 GTE-Am #99 Proton Competition
56 GTE-Am #60 Iron Lynx
57 Innovative Car #84 Association SRT41
58 GTE-Am #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing
59 GTE-Am #18 Absolute Racing
60 (DNF) GTE-Am #98 Aston Martin Racing
61 GTE-Am #86 GR Racing