Le Mans 24 Hours 2024 – Morning (4)

It was a dark and stormy night. So much so that at 03:45 the safety cars were scrambled and the race would be neutralized for over four hours. There had been an interval of racing of some three hours prior to that which had been preceded by the race’s first safety car period, which lasted for nearly two hours as barrier repairs were needed after the Ferrari – BMW crash.

A consequence of that event was that once the green fell the leading No. 83 Ferrari was called in to serve a penalty, Robert Kubica having been judged responsible for the incident. The general pattern that emerged during the green flag period was that 11 Hypercars remained in contention. Most notably, the No. 8 Toyota held a steady lead. The cohort group included both Toyotas, the No. 5 & 6 Penske Porsches, both Jota Porsches, the No. 2 and No. 3 Cadillacs, and despite their hand-slap delays, the No. 50 and 51 Ferraris. Apart from the BMWs and Alpines—all four retiring, all of the other Hypercars were still circulating, none being all that far down the order. The No. 311 Cadillac and No. 5 Porsche had a very up and down night, their fortunes based largely on making the wrong or right tyre choices in the mixed conditions.

The No. 183 AF Corse Oreca led the LM P2 class through much of the actual racing as well as into and beyond the long caution gap. They also head the Pro-Am sub category. The P2 class order shuffled constantly as the pit stops cycled through. Four others in the class kept the No. 183 in sight throughout. These included No. 37 (Cool), No. 24 (Nielsen), No. 10 (Vector) and No. 22 (United).

It was a Porsche 1-2 in LM GT3 through the long slog of the night with No. 92 ahead of No. 91. Tenaciously, the No. 59 United McLaren hung to their tails. The pattern of diversity among marques in the GT3 leadership made it through the interruptions although there were retirements. The No. 46 BMW went off, causing a cooling leak that proved terminal. The No. 66 JMW Ferrari was delayed and in LM P2 both the No. 9 Proton and the No. 30 Duqueine team entries ended their quest—the latter with a spectacular fire out on the straight.

Brighter skies deeper into the morning brought renewed speed and competition, although it was interrupted by three incidents, two being quite significant. Felipe Nasr crashed the No. 4 Penske Porsche and then David Mancinelli inverted the No. 47 Heart of Racing Aston Martin after going wide at Indianapolis. Somewhat later Charlie Eastwood came toa stop with the No. 81 TF Sport Corette. Both incidents brought out the safety car and interrupted some very tight racing at the front of the field between the No. 50 Ferrari (Antonio Fuoco), No. 7 Toyota (Nyck de Vries), and the No. 83 Porsche (Robert Schwarzman).

The Toyotas had effectively swapped spots, No. 8 caught out by being in the wrong place during a safety car intervention and No. 7 recovering after having visibility problems back when spray was an issue. Another Hypercar dropped out of the running when Scott Dixon limped back to the pits with the No. 3 Cadillac losing oil. The first of the Peugeots also retired, No. 93 going off at Indianapolis.  The Cadillac party at Indianapolis continued when Pipo Derani joined the fun and crashed but the No. 311 did crawl back to the pits and may reemerge.

Manicelli had risen as high as third in GT3 before the accident and others in the class to hit woes were the No. 31 BMW (spin) and the formerly second place Porsche of Klaus Bachler (No. 92) with a gearbox issue. Michelle Gatting was rising steadily in the No. 85 Iron Dames Lamborghini and took a turn at the class lead. The P2 battle became ever tighter as the speeds increased following the extra safety car periods. The No. 10 Vector Racing entry now swapped the lead with the long time front running No. 183.

GT3 became ever more unsettled as Jack Hawksworth charged back into contention with the Akkodis ASP Lexus after having been caught in the back of a safety car queue. With 4-1/2 hours to go here are the contenders:

Hypercar / Overall

#2, Cadillac, Earl Bamber

#50, Ferrari, Antonio Fuoco

#83, Ferrari, Robert Schwartzman

#8, Toyota, Sebastien Buemi

#6, Porsche, Kevin Estre

#7, Toyota, Kazumi Kobayashi

further back but still on the lead lap

#51, Ferrari, James Calado

#5, Porsche, Fred Makowiecki

#12, Porsche, Will Stevens

#38, Porsche, Phil Hanson


#10, Vector Racing, Patrick Pilet

#28, IDEC Racing, Job van Uitert [strong recovery drive!]

#34, Inter Europol, Clement Novalak

#22, United, Norbert Siegel

#37, Cool, Ryo Miyata

#183 (Pro-Am), AF Corse, Nick Varrone


Now a ding-dong battle between rising rookie Morris Schuring’s No. 91 Porsche and cagey vet Augusto Farfus in the No. 31 BMW.

Others further back on the lead lap are:

#87, Lexus, Eric Masson

#88, Mustang, Mikkel Pedersen

#59, McLaren, George Saucy

#85, Lamborghini, Rahel Frey

#78, Lexus, Timur Boguslavskiy

#44, McLaren, Ben Tuck

By Janos Wimpffen

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