24 Hours of Le Mans: Hour 18 – Class Leaders Befall Incidents while JOTA Runs Strong

Technical gremlins began to show themselves in the sun rise hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the penultimate six hours housing more incident and issues for competitors that the night ones.

After swapping positions for 15 hours of the race, the Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 has a lap on the sister car after the #7 suffered a technical failure. Going down Mulsanne, a power reset cycle had to be performed to get the car moving again after it slowed to a halt. In totality, with a short stint in the garage for a quick check over, the #7 crew only lost about four minutes, but it was enough for them to fall off the lead lap. We would say ‘advantage #8’ but with the way these last six hours have gone it would be foolish to predict anything until the chequered flag.

The JOTA #38 was the only class leader to have a smooth six hours, retaining and growing their lead at the front of the class. The Prema Orlen Team is still remaining a constant feature in the top three, and hour 18 ends with them splitting a JOTA one-three with Oliver Rasmussen on board the #28.

The LMP2 incidents of this quarter came from the #35 Ultimate, that had a massive off Porsche Curves, and the #83 AF Corse. Both cars are back running on track, but the mistake by Bronze-driver François Perrodo in the #83 completely destroyed all of Corvette Racing‘s hard efforts.

At the end of the 18th hour, Perrodo was overtaking an LMP2 coming down Mulsanne when he twitched the car a little too far left, tagging the back of Alexander Sims in the then GTE Pro class leading #64. There was nothing Sims could do but brace for impact as the Corvette made contact with the Armco barrier completely buckling the front left tyre inwards. There was no chance of returning to the pits with such heavy damage, and Sims was forced to retired on the side of the track.

The blow came double as, ten minutes later, Corvette retired the #63 that had been sat in the pits for two hours stuck in gear.

After their troubles in the night, #64 had been back at the lead of the class due to a tyre blow out for the #92 Porsche GT Team down the Mulsanne Straight, seeing the German car having to limp slowly back to the pits. With the loss, the #51 AF Corse now leads the class, having had a quiet but consistent race not plagued with any issues. It certainly isn’t over yet, however, as the #91 Porsche is closing in on the Ferrari, looking for the manufacturer’s first class win since 2018.

The WeatherTech Racing #79 that had been leading GTE Am also was hit with an issue in the 15th hour, giving up the lead after a short spell in the pits. It’s now third in class behind the TF Sport #33 and #99 Hardpoint Motorsport.

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