Ferrari leads WEC Hypercar at Le Mans with 5 hours to go

Ferrari leads WEC Hypercar at Le Mans with 5 hours to go

Ferrari led the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the endurance race at the Sarthe circuit entered its twentieth hour. The 499P number 51, driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi and shared with James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, led the way. The second Prancing Horse Hypercar, the number 50 crewed by Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, lay in seventh, fighting back after losing six laps in the middle of the night.

With five hours until the chequered flag of round four of the FIA WEC 2023, after 261 laps, Pier Guidi defended a 4”908 lead over the number eight car. The 499P number 51 starred overnight when Calado fought a tight battle with the only Toyota left in the race, completing a triple stint before handing the wheel to Giovinazzi.

Despite a slow zone that penalised the Hypercar by slowing its pace, between laps 183 and 207, Pier Guidi delivered two perfect stints, wiping out a 40-second deficit to its Japanese rival, and allowing Ferrari – AF Corse to regain the lead. The gap grew to one minute until the eighteenth hour when the 499P had to make a longer-than-expected pit stop with a driver change, thus losing its accumulated advantage and first position. Returning behind Buemi’s Toyota, two laps later, the three-time world champion reclaimed top spot with a spectacular overtaking move at the second chicane of the Hunaudières.

The incident that affected the number 50 Hypercar’s race occurred shortly before 2 a.m., when Fuoco lay in third. Damage to the ERS’s radiator, caused by a stone strike during the 120th lap, obliged the mechanics to take the car back to the garage for repairs. The 499P returned to the track in twelfth position after losing six laps and, with five hours to go, was seventh, five laps behind its teammates.

From first light, the crowds started flocking back to the stands of the historic French circuit, the venue for this year’s centenary edition of the 24 Hours, ahead of the last part, when over 300,000 spectators are expected at Le Mans.

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