The Toyotas change places, disaster for the Corvette

The Toyotas change places, disaster for the Corvette

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez led a third behind in the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, 1.2 seconds ahead of the #8 sister car of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa.

The #7 car took the lead from the #8 when Kobayashi beat Hirakawa in the 6th hour during the series of pit stops after their first stints. Kobayashi then had two wild moments at dusk, at the Ford chicane and the renamed Daytona chicane, as he extended a 7-second lead.

Oddly, it’s Hirakawa who gets reassurance towards the end of his radio stint – “It’s a long race, let’s keep calm” – as his team leader leads the way despite his mistakes. But their positions were still reversed when the #7 lost time with a slow tire stop and got stuck behind a GT car as it joined hands with Conway, so Buemi took the lead. number 8.

But the lead swung again on the Mulsanne straight, with a charging Conway reclaiming the top spot just before the conclusion of Hour 7.

Glickenhaus launched a distant chase, with the #708 leading the #709 until Olivier Pla spun the #708 at Tertre Rouge on a lap – reversing their positions. Pla took the #708 back to the pits to fix its left rear suspension and it fell outside the top 15 overall.

The other Hypercar, the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson, also had a terrible time. After the clutch was repaired at hour 4, a long second stop ensued an hour later, with the team having to remove the exhaust banks as they switched the ignition coil.

Team boss Philippe Sinault explained: “The first [problem] was the clutch, the electronic clutch box, and the second was the motor coil, which we had to change. In total, we lost 23 minutes… it’s like a nightmare.

Alpine’s Andre Negrao joined 7 laps down, then suffered a wild trip through the Porsche-curved gravel but kept going.

In LMP2, the #38 JOTA Oreca 07-Gibson continued to stretch its legs at the front of the field as Roberto Gonzalez continued the good work of teammates Will Stevens and Antonio Felix da Costa. He is fourth overall.

The pursuing Penske Team #5 Oreca suffered an unscheduled stop to take care of its brake ducts and a new nose section after a left front tire delaminated and damaged parts around it at hour 6.

The #9 Prema Oreca of Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Lorenzo Colombo remains firmly in the chase. Another early lead runner, Richard Mille Racing’s Oreca #1, suffered a 5th hour setback due to WRC legend Sebastien Ogier picking up a stop/start penalty. one minute for a dangerous pit entry penalty and forcing a car off the track.

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#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Pro of Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor

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Photo by: Marc Fleury

Disaster for Corvette in GTE Pro

The Corvette’s hold on the GTE Pro class disintegrated during this period of the race, first when Nick Tandy suffered a brake pressure problem in the #64 Corvette C8.R, causing a unscheduled shutdown to rectify.

But the biggest blow came when the leading No.63 suffered a rear left suspension failure in the Mulsanne despite being 17 seconds ahead. Antonio Garcia had to back up painfully and the car required lengthy repairs.

The Porsche rivals suffered a less severe blow earlier when Frederic Makowiecki received a passing penalty in the #91 911 RSR-19 for “constant abuse” of track limits. But his trouble-free #92 car of Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor now holds a considerable lead over the delayed #91.

There was also a drama at Ferrari since its leading 488 AF Corse #52 suffered a front right puncture at the hands of Miguel Molina. This propelled the #51 sister car of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra to third place in class, behind the Porsches and ahead of the #64 Corvette.

In GTE Am, the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 of Cooper MacNeil, Julian Andlauer and Thomas Merrill leads the #77 Dempsey-Proton version of Christian Ried, Harry Tincknell and Seb Priaulx. The #98 Northwest Aston Martin Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Nicki Thiim and David Pittard is third.

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