Welcome to the seventh and last part of the review brought to you by GP24.ro live from Le Mans.
Right at the start of hour 22 a driver change for the #11 SMP BR1 where Mikhail Aleshin hands over the driving duties to former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov. They are driving a lonely race at the moment with a lot of time to the car in front, as well as to the car in the back.
A little moment also for Andre Negrao in the #36 Signatech Alpine which is leading the LMP-2 Class. During the lapping of a BMW M8 he gets of track for a brief moment but fortunately the error does not have a major influence on their advantage.
After 22 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 more than 2 minutes with the #11 SMP BR1 following in 3rd place.
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 the #51 AF-Corse Ferrari is moving towards victory.
In GTE-Am the #85 Ford GT is still in full control but has lost a significant part of their huge advantage.
The opening of the 23rd of racing action at Le Mans is marked by Yellow Flags waving as Philipp Eng had to stop his BMW M8. On the straight the headlights stopped working which is a sign of a technical defect on his BMW.
Shortly after we see the #85 Keating Motorsport Ford GT entering the pitlane from 1st position in the GTE-Am class, no changes in the lead of this class however. We also witness the return to racing of the #29 Racing Team Nederland car which has undergone significant repairs with the aim to finish the race.
In LMP-1 Class no leadership changes but it will be Stoffel Vandoorne who will drive the finishing sting in the #11 SMP Racing BR1.
A message from the stewards says the last pitstop of the #85 Keating Motorsport Ford GT will be investigated. Also the comeback of the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara seems to be short as they are dragging the car back to the pitlane after suffering a puncture. The #85 Keating Motorsport Ford GT has received a Stop&Go penalty for wheelspin in the pitlane, something that is not allowed at Le Mans. The team executed the penalty immediately and managed to stay in the lead however the lead over the #56 Porsche driven by Jorg Bergmesiter is now less than 6 seconds behind them.
More drama right at the start of the 24th and last hour of racing here at Le Mans as now the #7 Toyota suffers a puncture leading to a change of leadership in LMP-1 Class. It is now the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Kazuki Nakajima in the lead with 1 hour to go.
After 23 hours of racing at Le Mans the situation on track was as follows:
In LMP-1, the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid pitted with tire damage giving the lead to the sister #8 Toyota followed by the #11 SMP BR1 in 3rd place.
In LMP-2 the #36 Signatech Alpine still leading as the #38 Jacky Chan DC Racing Oreca trails a full lap behind.
In GTE-Pro, here the #51 AF-Corse Ferrari is still moving towards victory.
In GTE-Am the #85 Ford GT is once again extending their advantage with Jeroen Bleekemolen behind the wheel.
So we move into the final hour of racing action here at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans where the race always passes much faster than expected. Philipp Eng and his #8 BMW have been briefly back on track after he suffered from a technical malfunction but was called back to the pits immediately after. Meanwhile in LMP-2 Class it is the #30 Duqueine Oreca driven by Jamin, Ragues and Dumas that has to enter the pit for repairs and therewith they see their 5th place go up in flames with just about 30 minutes left in the race.
With only 30 minutes of racing left at Le Mans in the 2019 edition the situation on track was as follows:
In LMP-1, the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid is still leading as tyre damage threw the sister #7 Toyota back. But it ain’t over till it is over, the #7 Toyota seems to lap significantly faster.
In LMP-2 no changes here as the #36 Signatech Alpine is still leading ahead of the #38 Jacky Chan DC Racing Oreca which is a full lap behind.
In GTE-Pro, here the #51 AF-Corse Ferrari is still moving towards victory as they manage to keep the distance between themselves and the #91 Porsche stable.
In GTE-Am the #85 Ford GT is still slowly extending their advantage with Jeroen Bleekemolen behind the wheel.
The last 20 minutes we are seeing some splash and dash pitstops for both Toyota’s but no changes. In GTE-Am Team Keating Motorsport did the wise thing to put their ace driver in for the last stint and so hold on to the win in Class. If their advantage had stayed as big as it was it would have been likely that Ben Keating would take the finish flag. In GTE-Pro Gianmaria Bruni is fighting for what he is worth but it seems the distance between their #91 Porsche and the #51 Ferrari is to big to overcome.
In LMP-1 the battle seems done as there is an 18-second gap with just under 5 minutes to go which will mean 2 more laps. In LMP-2 Class the distance is bigger and there is a full lap between each of the cars in the top 5. In GTE-Pro there are no surprises to be expected anymore even though at Le Mans it is never over till the fat lady has sung… And in GTE-Am Jeroen Bleekemolen did an outstanding job while Jorg Bergmeister backed of a little so the gap between them grew to over a minute again.
So the fat lady is singing her song and it is the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi winning the 2019 edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans with a 16.972 advantage over the sister #7 Toyota driven by Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway and in 3rd place the SMP Racing BR1 Dallara driven by Stoffel Vandoorne, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin
We will follow up with a post with the full results.
- Source: Frank van Nunen @GP24.ro
- Photocredit: ACO / Le Mans
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