The Alley

12 Hour Update: 24 Hours of Le Mans

Toyota Gazoo Racing went from dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans to having its heart torn out in 30 minutes with race leading No. 7 car and its sister machine No. 9 retiring in quick succession before half race distance.

Pole winner Kamui Kobayashi suffered a clutch issue coming onto the start finish straight and despite an agonizing attempt to get the back around to the pits, the Japanese ace was forced to abandon the car in the Porsche curves.

The No. 7 had been dominating the race and its retirement handed the race lead over to the No.1 Porsche.

Within 30 minutes Toyota’s No. 9 entry with Nicolas Lapierre  (with Jose Maria Lopez and Yuji Kunimoto) had contact with an LM P2 car and suffered a flat tire which badly damaged the bodywork causing a fire.

Lapierre tried to nurse the car back to the pits and fell short. The retirements come after last year’s heartbreaking finish to the race when the leading Toyota stopped on the final lap.

The leading Porsche of Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Neel Jani was left with an incredible 18 lap lead over the sister No. 2 Porsche and the sole remaining Toyota which was a further 29 laps adrift after earlier delays.

In GTE-Pro Aston Martin continued to set the pace with the team running 1-2 ahead of the Porsche of Richard Lietz, Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet.

Amazingly the top nine cars in the class were still on the lead lap after 12 hours of running.

Other class leads at the half way point included the Vaillante Rebellion of Bruno Senna, Julien Canal and Nico Prost and the JMW Motorsport Ferrari in GTE-Am.

 

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