Princess Charlene of Monaco officially started the race by waving the French flag at the 87th running of the 24-Hours of Le Mans, as at 15h00 the field of 61 cars led by the leading Toyotas began the adventure.
A record 61 cars started this year’s race which also doubles up as the WEC Super Finale.
Less than three hours to go before the chequered flag. Toyota and Alpine are still in the lead in LMP1 and LMP2. LMGTE Pro is as nail-biting as ever.
Round-up after 21-hours:
Having completed a few laps, the Rebellion Racing #3 Rebellion R13 returned to the garage. The car is last in LMP1 for the moment.
The #7 has lengthened the gap with the sister car to 2:10. Vitaly Petrov is now at the wheel of the SMP Racing #11 BR Engineering BR1-AER currently in third place.
The United Autosports #32 Ligier de United Autosports lost its bonnet for no apparent reason and after repairs, is now at the bottom of the class.
Romain Dumas did a great job clawing the Duqueine Engineering #30 Oreca 07-Gibson back to fourth place in LMP2 and ninth overall.
Nyck de Vries lost control of the Racing Team Nederland #29 Dallara P217 at Indianapolis and ended up in the tyre wall. Despite the sorry state of the car, the Dutchman got it back home during the safety car period and it is now up and running again.
Drama in the LMGTE Pro class. The Corvette in the gravel and the Ferrari takes the lead, ahead of the Porsche.
Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche. That has been the pecking order in this hard-fought class for the last few hours. The Corvette Racing #63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and the AF Corse #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Corse were in a tussle to be top dog.
With ten seconds between them, the winner was anyone’s bet until Jan Magnussen in the Corvette span off in the Porsche Curves and hit the wall. The car is in for repairs.
Let’s not discount the Porsche GT Team #91 and #93 Porsche 911 RSRs, in the same lap as the Ferrari, as are the #67 and #68 Ford GTs.
In the lead since hour 6, the Keating Motorsports #85 Ford GT is still ahead after a brake change, but the Team Project 1#56 Porsche 911 RSR is still in the running… Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Felipe Fraga need to keep up the pressure for another three hours. To be continued!
Round-up after 17-hours:
The #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by José María López firmly settled into first place overall, with the #8 sister car of Fernando Alonso trailing by two minutes, and the #3 Rebellion R13 of Thomas Laurent in rounding out the podium.
Three of the eight LMP1s retired overnight. The two Toyotas reign supreme, the #7 TS050 Hybrid in the hands of José-Maria Lopez has a 1.5-minute lead over the #8 sister car with Nakajima at the wheel.
At 07:00 Thomas Laurent handed over to Gustavo Menezes. The car was handed a 3-min stop and go penalty for violation of a tyre ruling. Stoffel Vandoorne took the opportunity to grab third place for SMP Racing.
The Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 Oreca 07-Gibson is the second in the class to retire, following the #49 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P217.
Still neck and neck, the G-Drive Racing #26 Aurus 01(first in LMP2) and the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 pit in the same lap.
Shortly after 07:00, Pastor Maldonado went straight on at Tertre Rouge Corner, taking off the nose of the #31 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 – Gibson. The accident spelt retirement. Taking advantage of the situation, Gabriel Aubry moved the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson up to third place.
The class leaders both pitted during the safety car period, the #63 Corvette C7.R ahead of the #93 Porsche 911 RSR. The American stayed ahead, Mike Rockenfeller at the wheel. Daniel Serra in the AF Corse #51 Ferrari 488 GTE is not far behind.
The Keating Motorsports #85 Ford GT holds onto the lead, with 2 minutes in hand over the Team Project 1 #56 Porsche 911 RSR, which is ahead of the JMW Motorsport #84 Ferrari 488 GTE #. There is a gripping fight for supremacy in this class and the podium is still wide open.
Headlines after 12 hours:
The #7 and #8 TS050 HYBRID cars hold a commanding lead in LMP1 with both cars separated by mere seconds
Trouble struck Rebellion Racing’s #3 car on the seventh hour after a spin on the Mulsanne Straight caused front-end damage. The team worked on the car for just under five minutes and now sit third at the race’s mid-way point
SMP Racing’s #17 BR Engineering BR1 – AER car suffered serious damage in the tenth hour and drops to sixth. The sister SMP Racing #11 car is fourth
Gearbox and mechanical related issues continue to hinder the #10 DragonSpeed car with the vehicle spending large amounts of time in the pits
LMGTE Pro battle continues to rage between the #92 Porsche 911 RSR and #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo grappling for the top spot
The fight for P3 and P4 is just as fierce with less than five seconds separating the Porsche GT Team entries #92 and #93
Heartache for Aston Martin Racing as both Aston Martin Vantage AMR cars suffer incidents on track. The #97 hit trouble in the ninth hour when the car got beached in the gravel. Shortly after, the #95 pole-sitter went into the barriers at Indianapolis and will no longer continue
#26 G-Drive Racing car pulls away from #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut in LMP2 battle after G-Drive benefitted from five safety car periods in six hours
The battle for the LMP2 title set to go down to the wire as the two main contenders – Signatech Alpine and Jackie Chan DC Racing – are currently second and third
#31 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 – Gibson is currently fourth, closing in on the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car
The Keating Motorsports #5 car continues to lead in the LMGTE Am category by over a lap
The #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing car is second, with the #90 TF Sport entry hot on the heels of the Porsche 911 RSR in front