Whilst we are seemingly not going to be surprised by the finish we can speculate as to the discussions at Toyota HQ as to the desire to manipulate this result… Lets leave that to them, but suffice to say we would advise that a win is won on merit and a clean fight is expected. The early to and fro between the GTE-Pro field has been awe-inspiring to behold, but now seems to be settling in the favour of the two remaining Porsche RSR tribute cars. Here are the by category updates –
LMP1 – The duel between the Toyotas started on the very first lap with #8 taking the flag as pole-car and the #7 pedalled by Mike Conway taking the lead on the first lap and staying ahead for sometime. Both cars have suffered punctures but these have been handled without drama to-date. As the race has evolved the #7 has established a dominant position on a 35-second lead and in the last hour a Stop&Hold penalty for the #8 Buemi/Nakajima/Alonso has extended that gap to over 90-seconds.
The #1 Rebellion R13 got off to a dubious start when at the Dunlop Chicane its nose assembly seemingly came loose and departed contact with the rest of the car. The subsequent stop for a replacement nose dropped the #1 to the back of the field, but has since worked its way back to fifth overall. The #17 SMP Racing runs consistently behind the #3 Rebellion Racing R13. However a recent off for Isaakyan in the #17 SMP Racing BR1 has brought its participation for to a premature end. As suggested with so many new builds in LMP1 and the unique challenge/demands of Le Mans has taken its toll and we look to be down to an extended two team struggle over the remaining hours.
The Ginetta G60s continue to circulate and are gaining significance experience and data on the Circuit de la Sarthe. Straightline ‘grunt’ and out of corners is proving to be a channel, but proving the various systems and components is continuing and it will be a pleasure to see them continue this journey and improve.
LMP2 – Continues to be led by the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 pursued by #36 Alpine-Signatech and a surprise in third of a Ligier JSP217 – Gibson of Panis Barthez Competition. The #48 IDEC Sport, #28 TDS Racing and #39 Graff-SO24 all in the hunt.
Last years remarkable result for Jackie Chan DC Racing looks a distant memory, their best entry being 12th and again a Ligier loaned by Oak Racing #34
GTE-Pro – Frenetic action in the -Pro category with all bar the new Aston Martin Vantage AMR engaged
Porsche has been making strong progress at the front of the GTE-Pro field at one point dominating the podium However both the #94 and #93 American RSRs have succumbed to both a structural issue and an electrical problem .That leads the heritage wrapped cars at the top of the podium currently the #92 ‘Pink Pig’ leads the ‘Rothmans’ #91. In third the #68 FordGT is adrift, but keeping the leaders honest and on the same lap are a further four cars from Ferrari, Ford and Corvette.
Certainly the much improved BMW looks to have potential for the second half of the race, but at Aston Martin Racing whilst they have seemingly solid reliability, they are far from competitive and something fundamental is clearly not right. .
GTE-Am – The early dominance of the new to category Porsche RSRs has fizzled somewhat and whilst the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing car continues to lead but is is now pursued by Ferrari F488 GTEs the two WeatherTech cars #84 & #85. Also on the category lead lap is the sister car to the Dempsey RSR #88. Once again, and sadly the #98 Aston Martin Vantage (old skool) is a retiree having meet with an understeering high-speed off whilst in the hands of Paul Dalla Lana at the entry to the Porsche Curves.