Welcome to the sixth part of the review brought to you by GP24.ro live from Le Mans.
We start the 19th hour ere at Le Mans with some changes in the LMP-2 class where we see the #26 G-Drive car which has been leading a long time coming into the pits and being rolled backwards into the garage. A team member told us that after a regular pitstop the car did not want to start anymore so now the back cover is of and the team’s mechanics along with engineers from Gibson are looking at what could cause the problem. This is a bitter one for the G-Drive team which has led the race in LMP-2 class for a considerable number of hours. Meanwhile the team has already dropped out of the top 3.
Halfway the 19th hour good news from G-Drive Racing, the #26 is running again after having spend more than 20 minutes in the garage and having slipped from the lead into 7th position. It seems the race for the lead is over for them, but this is Le Mans and anything can happen to anyone.
In the GTE-Pro class there is a driver change on the leading #63 Corvette where Garcia takes over from Rockenfeller giving the lead to the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. The battle for GTE-Pro honours remains fierce and can go anyway.
In LMP-1 Class there are more problems for the #3 Gibson powered Rebellion R-13, this time it seems to be the brakes and the team is working at the front of the car to remedy the situation. This allowed the sister #1 Rebellion to go past which seems to be good news for the SMP guys who see the #11 SMP BR1 further extending their lead. But as Le Mans is Le Mans this 3rd place is anything but secure. At the front we see the #7 Toyota extending the lead in the direction of the 2 minutes mark. As there is so much happening in other places with other cars and other categories the Toyota’s drive a bit of a lonely race outside the view of the TV cameras.
The 19th hour closes with another Full Course Yellow as the #32 United Autosports Ligier of Cullen, Brundle and Owen lost its engine cover while driving which stayed on track and has to be cleared. At that moment the #32 car was in 16th place in LMP2 Class. During this FCY Mike Conway made a splash and dash pitstop and shortly after another regular pitstop which lost him a little bit of his lead over the #8 Toyota. Another hour down, 5 more to go.
After little more than 19 hours of racing at Le Mans the situation on track was as follows:
In LMP-1, the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid is leading the sister #8 Toyota by 1:50 minutes.
In LMP-2 the #36 Signatech Alpine has a clear lead in class as the #38 Jacky Chan DC Racing Oreca trails a full lap behind.
In GTE-Pro, here there still is a lot of excitement as the #63 Corvette is leading the #51 AF-Corse Ferrari by a mere 15 seconds.
In GTE-Am the #85 Ford GT is still in full control.
The problem for the #3 Rebellion seem to be without ending, they just dropped back to behind the #36 Signatech Alpine (LMP-2) Only 3 hours ago they were in 3rd place overall until everything started to go wrong. They have made 35 pitstops so far….
A penalty has been given to the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 driven by Flohr, Castellacci and Fisichella while Fisichella has exceeded the maximum drive time allowed for a driver. The team will get a 4 lap deduction from their final result which is bad, however the team is only in 9th place in the GTE-Am Class. And a puncture for the #34 Inter-Europol Ligier driven by Smiechowski, Winslow and Moore, made them loose time while they were in 16th place in the LMP-2 Class.
Finally we could see some movement in the GTE-Am Class… The #85 Keating Motorsport Ford GT which has been leading this class for many hours has a problem during a pitstop which for the team felt like taking ages. They are still in front but the #56 Project 1 Porsche came closer, will this turn out to be exciting?
At the end of the 20th hour we seem to be in a more or less quiet phase of the race. Most distances between teams seem to be stable, but we know how fast things can change around here. Like in the GTE-Pro category where the #91 Porsche receives a 10-second penalty for an FCY infringement while being in 3rd place which could really make a difference as the #93 sister car is just 15 seconds behind.
After having enjoyed a coffee (LINK) Fernando Alonso is back in the car for what could be his last stint of the 2019 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Halfway into hour 21 we saw Formula 2 driver Nyck de Vries going of the track and into the barriers at Indianapolis in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara LMP-2 car which brought out the Safety Car for the 8th time which will compress the field again and eliminate some of the achieved advantages throughout the field.
Bad luck also for Antonio Garcia as he pits the #63 Corvette and when exiting the pitlane finds the light to be red meaning he has to wait. He ends up waiting for a full 3 minutes… does this drop them out of contention for the honours in GTE-Pro?
The safety car is staying out for a significant period of time while Nyck de Vries manages to return the damaged #29 Dallara to the pitlane. Only about 10 minutes later the track status turns back to green, and we are racing again. During the restart there was a fierce duel between the #91 and #93 Porsches for the 3rd place in GTE-Pro Class. At the moment it is the #91 Porsche who is in front.
Meanwhile we heard from Nyck de Vries that he had a problem with his car causing him to crash, possibly a steering failure. While we hear this Jan Magnussen spins in the #63 Corvette and hits the wall which could mean the end of the title hopes for them. Before the last Safety Car Phase they were leading and now the car is being pushed back into the garage. At the restart also the #85 Keating Motorsport Ford GT was shortly of track but continues to lead the GTE-Am class. The #63 Corvette has fallen back to 5th place already so in GTE-Pro it seems all good for the #51 AF Corse Ferrari which saw its lead extend to 2:40 minutes. Up in front the difference between the #7 Toyota and the #8 sister car is a comfortable 2 minutes and in LMP-2 it is the #36 Signatech Alpine car that has a comfortable lead. If ever you could speak of such comfort at Le Mans.
So at the end of 21 hours of racing at Le Mans the situation on track was as follows:
In LMP-1, it is the #7 car that has a 2-minute lead over the sister #8 Toyota with the #11 SMP BR1 in 3rd place and the Rebellion #3 who lost 3rd place to the #1 sister car after many incidents.
In LMP-2 the #36 Signatech Alpine is leading after drama hit the #26 G-Drive car.
In GTE-Pro, the #51 AF-Corse Ferrari is leading as the #63 Corvette has lost a lot of time and seems to be out of contention after having led the race on many occasions.
In GTE-Am the #85 Ford GT is still going strong and is leading in class by a significant advantage and seems to escape from losing time in the Safety Car Phases.
- Source: Frank van Nunen @GP24.ro
- Photocredit: ACO / Le Mans
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