The battle for the overall lead in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was intensifying between the # 51 Ferrari AF Corse and the # 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing teams. James Calado in the # 51 Ferrari held a narrow one-second lead over Brendon Hartley in the Toyota as both cars entered the race’s closing hours. With both teams on the same strategy, an enthralling finale was set up for the spectators.
The Toyota # 8 had previously moved ahead of the Ferrari # 51 due to an electrical problem during a pit stop. However, the Ferrari, driven by Pier Guidi, showcased impressive speed and was able to outpace the Toyota, reclaiming the race lead.
The # 2 and # 3 Cadillac V Series.R cars held the third and fourth positions, with Alex Lynn in the # 3 Cadillac trailing the second-placed Toyota by just over two minutes. The Peugeot TotalEnergies rounded out the top five, with Jean-Eric Vergne currently driving the # 93 car, three laps behind the # 3 Cadillac.
In sixth place was the # 5 Porsche Penske 963, two laps down from the Peugeot, with Dane Cameron delivering solid lap times in his recent stint. The second AF Corse Ferrari 499P Hypercar was making a comeback after facing setbacks earlier in the race and currently held the seventh position.
Both Glickenhaus Racing’s 007 Hypercars encountered trouble during the race. The # 708 car, driven by Olivier Pla, spun and returned to the pits with a gearbox issue. Shortly after, the sister # 709 car, driven by Franzk Mailleux, went wide at Indianapolis. Currently, both cars were in the eighth and ninth positions, having spent time in the pits for repairs.
Loic Duval, driving the # 94 Peugeot TotalEnergies, rounded out the top ten. Unfortunately, the Peugeot 9X8 was out of contention after a collision during the middle of the night.
The # 6 Porsche Penske, driven by Kevin Estre, experienced a series of issues throughout the race, including an off-track excursion and a lengthy 43-minute pit stop for repairs to the undercarriage of the Porsche 963.
The Hertz Team JOTA, with Antonio Felix da Costa at the wheel, spun at Indianapolis, causing damage to the front end of the Porsche 963. The car remained in the pits for repairs.
The # 4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team retired from the race after completing 165 laps. Tristan Vautier was driving the Vanwall Vandervell when it came to a stop on the track, with smoke visible from the rear.
With the race entering its final stages, the competition remained fierce, and teams continued to face challenges and battle for their positions on the leaderboard. The outcome of the race was still uncertain, adding to the excitement of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In the fiercely competitive LMP2 category, the # 34 Inter Europol Competition continued to showcase its dominance. Currently driven by Fabio Scherer, the Polish-flagged car held a commanding 50-second lead over the second-placed # 41 WRT entry, with Louis Deletraz behind the wheel. However, Deletraz was determined to close the gap and was steadily reducing the deficit.
Despite facing a challenging situation, Scherer displayed immense determination and resilience. He was seen hopping out of the car as he drove with an injured left foot, yet his performance remained heroic. The Inter Europol Competition team was inspired by his unwavering commitment and pushed forward with their lead.
The Duqueine Oreca-Gibson, piloted by Nicolas Pino, held the third position in the LMP2 category. They maintained a solid position on the track, staying ahead of the # 48 IDEC Racing in fourth place. The competition was fierce, with each team fighting for every inch of advantage.
The # 65 Panis Racing entry, with Manuel Maldonaldo at the helm, rounded out the top five in the LMP2 category. They managed to maintain a 23-second lead over the # 31 WRT entry, now driven by Ferdinand Habsburg. The battle for positions was intense, with each driver pushing their limits to secure the best possible outcome for their team.
Behind the leading pack, the Alpine Elf Team and Vector Sport occupied the sixth and seventh positions, respectively. Both teams displayed impressive performances and remained within striking distance of the top contenders.
As the race progressed, the LMP2 category provided captivating moments of skill and determination. The drivers pushed through challenges and injuries, displaying their unwavering dedication to their teams. The outcome of the category was far from decided, and the closing hours of the race promised an enthralling battle for supremacy in the LMP2 class.
In the LMGTE Am category, an exhilarating battle unfolded between the all-female Iron Dames crew and ORT by TF team. The momentum shifted as Rahel Frey handed over the Iron Dames Porsche to Sarah Bovy during the 18th hour of the race. Bovy now held a 37-second advantage over the ORT by TF team, with both cars employing different pit strategies to gain an edge.
Meanwhile, Ben Keating had completed his minimum driving time and passed the points-leading # 33 Corvette Racing Chevrolet to Nicolas Varonne. The Corvette was running in third place and steadily closing the gap on the ORT by TF entry, intensifying the competition for the podium spots.
The Project 1 AO Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19, known as “Rexy,” driven by Matteo Cairoli, maintained a strong presence in the category, currently holding the fourth position. The team showcased their determination and skill, battling it out against their rivals.
Not far behind, the # 33 Corvette Racing Chevrolet, piloted by Nicky Catsburg, made a remarkable move to overtake Thomas Flohr in the # 54 AF Corse Ferrari. The Corvette climbed up to the fourth position, while Flohr rounded out the top five in the Ferrari.
However, the race was not without its challenges. In the 19th hour, the # 911 Proton Competition Porsche, driven by Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender, encountered a spin and crashed into the barrier at Maison Blanche. The incident brought an unfortunate end to their aspirations in the competition.
Adding to the twists and turns, the previously leading # 57 Kessel Racing suffered a devastating crash with Daniel Serra behind the wheel. The unfortunate turn of events forced them out of contention in the GTE Am category, leaving the battle wide open for the remaining contenders.
As the hours ticked by, the LMGTE Am category continued to provide intense and unpredictable moments. The Iron Dames, ORT by TF, Corvette Racing, Project 1 AO Racing, and AF Corse teams fought fiercely, displaying their determination and skill on the track. The stakes were high, and the stage was set for a thrilling conclusion to the battle for supremacy in the LMGTE Am class.
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