Penske Motorsport's Porsche 963 leads at Le Mans halfway stage

Penske Motorsport's Porsche 963 leads at Le Mans halfway stage

VALENTINO ROSSI'S RACE ENDS

 

The first half of the 92nd 24 Hours of Le Mans has been marred with inconsistent weather conditions. With 12 hours to go and thanks to a safety car intervention, Porsche Penske Motorsport's Porsche 963 slipped into the Hypercar lead ahead of heavyweight opponents like TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Ferrari AF Corse and Cadillac Racing.

 

With 12 hours in the rearview, Porsche Penske Motorsport, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and Ferrari AF Corse are in a threeway battle for the lead and the top 9 Hypercars are all on the same lap!

 

Porsche Penske Motorsport held P1 as the clock chimed 04:00, but TOYOTA GAZOO Racing was unfazed. Like it did in April at the 6 Hours of Imola, the Japanese constructor is relying on its vast experience to choose the right strategy and outmaneuver rivals. The team's drivers are also performing flawlessly. The #8 GR010 Hybrid shared by Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa is second ahead of Cadillac Racing's #3 Cadillac V-Series.R.

 

The race has seen its share of twists over the last four hours: AF Corse's #83 Ferrari 499P incurred a 30-second penalty following contact with BMW M Team WRT's #15 BMW M Hybrid V8, forcing the latter to retire.

 

A second neutralisation phase got underway at 03:45 when the rain intensified and Whelen Cadillac Racing's #311 Cadillac V-Series.R spun out at the Tertre Rouge "S". The two Toyotas quickly refuelled and switched to wet tyres, resulting in handing the #6 Porsche 963 Hypercar the lead.

 

The LMP2 category has also kept spectators on the edge of their seats. The fight for the top spot ramped up between Nielsen Racing's #24 ORECA 07-Gibson and AF Corse's #183, but at 02:44, the #24 then driven by David Heinemeier Hansson hit Proton Competition's #77 Ford Mustang LMGT3 at the Tertre Rouge "S". The British team surrendered the lead to the Italians.

 

The engine of Duqueine Team's #30 ORECA 07-Gibson entrusted to John Falb/James Allen/Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer failed approaching the Daytona chicane.

 

VALENTINO ROSSI'S CHANCES DASHED
In LMGT3, Team WRT's #46 BMW M4 LMGT3 suffered a race-ending incident when Ahmad Al Harty lost control of the car in the descent between the Dunlop chicane and the Tertre Rouge "S". He shared the car with Maxime Martin and nine-time world champion motorcyclist Valentino Rossi. 

 

The LMGT3 category has delivered a stunning duel between Porsche and McLaren for P1. Manthey PureRxcing's #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3 driven by Aliaksandr Malykhin/Joel Sturm/Klaus Bachler is positioned ahead of the #91 Porsche and United Autosports' #59 McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo. The top 8 in the category are all on the same lap.

 

Top 5 overall at mid-race
1. #6 Porsche 963 | Porsche Penske Motorsport – Kévin Estre / André Lotterer / Laurens Vanthoor – 171 laps
2. #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid | TOYOTA GAZOO Racing – Sébastien Buemi / Brendon Hartley / Ryo Hirakawa +7.748s
3. #2 Cadillac V-Series.R | Cadillac Racing – Earl Bamber / Alex Lynn / Alex Palou +2:10.410
4. #51 Ferrari 499P | Ferrari AF Corse – Alessandro Pier Guidi / James Calado / Antonio Giovinazzi +2:13.371
5. #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid | TOYOTA GAZOO Racing – José María López / Kamui Kobayashi / Nyck de Vries +2:22.995

LMP2 and LMGT3 leaders
LMP2 | #183 ORECA 07-Gibson | AF Corse – François Perrodo / Ben Barnicoat / Nicolas Varrone (LMP2 Pro/Am) – 163 laps
LMGT3 | #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3 | Manthey PureRxcing – Aliaksandr Malykhin / Joel Sturm / Klaus Bachler – 152 laps

Retirements:

#54 Ferrari 296 LMGT3 | Vista AF Corse – Thomas Flohr / Francesco Castellacci / Davide Rigon – Incident
#35 Alpine A424 | Alpine Endurance Team – Paul-Loup Chatin / Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen / Charles Milesi – Failed engine
#36 Alpine A424 | Alpine Endurance Team – Nicolas Lapierre / Mick Schumacher / Matthieu Vaxivière – Failed engine
#15 BMW M Hybrid V8 | BMW M Team WRT – Dries Vanthoor / Raffaele Marciello / Marco Wittmann – Contact
#9 ORECA 07-Gibson | Proton Competition – Jonas Ried / Maceo Capietto / Bent Viscaal
#30 ORECA 07-Gibson | Duqueine Team – John Falb / James Allen / Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (LMP2 Pro/Am) – Failed engine
#46 BMW M4 LMGT3 | Team WRT – Ahmad Al Harthy / Valentino Rossi / Maxime Martin – Incident
#45 ORECA 07-Gibson | Crowdstrike Racing by APR – George Kurtz / Colin Braun / Nicky Catsburg (LMP2 Pro/Am)

Fastest lap: Antonio Fuoco, #50 Ferrari 499P, 03:29.208 (46th lap)
 


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