It’s the biggest prize in sportscar racing: victory in the 24 hours of Le Mans. For the 84th time, the world has come to France to run the 8-mile circuit in search of victory. At the end of a full day of racing, who will emerge on top?
(Welcome to the 2016 live blog, featuring DannyCatSteve! Follow him on Twitter @dannycatsteve or email him: firstname.lastname@example.org)
CONCLUSION: I don’t know how long it’ll take for that to soak in, but it’s going to be a while. I have never seen anything sadder in racing. Pure drama. Pure anguish, and sudden joy on the Porsche side. That’s why we watch the whole 24 hours. Hopefully, Toyota will come back just as strong next year. Though Ford earned their victory in GTE-Pro, the circumstances of the entire build-up and end of race penalty for Risi leaves me with a slightly sour taste on that front. Congratulations on good, dominant victories by Signatech and Scuderia Corsa.
Le Mans delivered again. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed. See you next time, if there is a next time.
THE FINISH: After a shocking finish, the winners are:
LMP1/Overall: #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid: Neel Jani/Marc Lieb/Romain Dumas
LMP2: #36 Signatech Alpine: Nicolas Lapierre/Stephane Richelmi/Gustavo Menezes
GTE-Pro: #68 Ford GT: Joey Hand/Dirk Muller/Sebastien Bourdais
GTE-Am: #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458: Bill Sweedler/Townsend Bell/Jeff Segal
24:00: In the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen in motor racing, the #5 Toyota has stopped on track. The #2 Porsche has taken the lead and will win.
23:55: The #5 Toyota may have a problem! It’s slowing with just minutes remaining.
23:51: Scratch that. The #2 Porsche is in for tires? Not sure what that’s about.
23:49: The #82 Risi Ferrari is being black flagged for leader lights because the ACO is dumb and stupid. It looks like they might fight it. The #2 Porsche is in for a final splash of fuel.
23:45: The #83 AF Corse entry overtakes the Abu Dhabi-Proton Porsche for second in GTE-Am.
23:29: With Half an hour remaining, it looks as though the #84 SRT41 car will be the first garage 56 entry to complete the full 24 hours.
23:23: The #5 makes its final stop. It’s routine service and they’re away.
23:00: We enter the final hour with the #5 Toyota leading by 28 seconds. The Murphy Prototype is beached at turn one and has triggered a slow zone.
22:50: The GTE-Pro leader makes use of the slow zone and tops off on fuel. The #68 gets in and out without a problem.
22:45: And the #28 Pegasus entry’s day ends with a fire. Le Mans can be extra cruel, sometimes.
22:35: The Pegasus car... AGAIN... with a spin at Mulsanne corner.
22:32: The #2 pits for fuel only. That was a 13 lap stint. They’re cutting it close to making it on one more stop. The #5 comes in for fuel only on the next lap. It should be their penultimate stop.
22:29: The Pegasus Racing car gets a drive through penalty for speeding in pit lane.
22:22: All the gaps and battles have stabilized for the moment. Just under 100 minutes remaining.
22:15: Nakajima leads by 30 seconds over Jani.
21:55: Dirk Muller gets back in the #68 Ford GT for the rest of the race.
21:43: The #2 completes another 14-lap stint and receives fuel only. Davidson brings in the #5 and Kaz Nakajima jumps in for what should be the run to the finish.
21:39: The Signatech Alpine has a one lap lead in the LMP2 class. The #68 Ford GT’s lead is out to 40 seconds over the Risi Ferrari. Townsend Bell has a one lap lead over Patrick Long in GTE-Am.
21:19: #2 is 58 seconds behind the leader and the battle for the win is down to just two cars.
21:12: Big development with the #6 Toyota being backed into the garage. Looks like it’s to repair more of the undertray.
21:04: The #98 has problems... AGAIN! Lauda is stopped at the Dunlop Chicane.
HOUR 21 UPDATE: This is it: the run to the finish of Le Mans. The #5 Toyota of Anthony Davidson leads by 2 minutes over Neel Jani in the #2 Porsche. The #6 Toyota is third but damage caused by Kamui Kobayashi may keep them from victory. Porsche is attempting to adapt their strategy to match the TS050s, but will it work?
20:52: Important stops for the #6 and #2. The #6 has an extended stop to work more on the damage to the undertray caused by Kobayashi’s off. Jani gets in for Lieb after a 14-lap stint, which is what they were looking for. The #5 comes in and receives a fuel only stop.
20:45 Vilander trips over the curbs and goes for a spin! He’s got going again, but they can’t afford many mistakes.
20:27: The #44 Manor has a shunt and tries to crawl back to the pits but then smacks the wall at the Porsche Curves. Matthew Rao is in the car. The nose dug in underneath the tire.
2020: The #6 spins at the Porsche Curves! It’s stuck in the gravel, but only for a moment as Kobayashi gets it going again. It’s time he’ll regret losing, perhaps.
2016: Porsche is trying to quadruple stint a set of tires or somehow cut a pitstop in an effort to stay with the two TS050s.
20:10: The Signatech Alpine still leads the LMP2 class ahead of the G-Drive Oreca that Will Stevens is driving. Hand has extended his margin over Vilander to seven seconds. Bell and Scuderia Corsa still lead the Proton Porsche and Patrick Long.
20:00: The #2 and #6 make their stops and Lieb emerges ahead. There is a slow zone on track for the AAI Corvette. The #5 does a fuel only stop.
1953: Lieb surrenders to the Toyota of Davidson, who retakes the lead.
19:41: More grief for Audi with the #8 slowing on track.
19:31: Hand blows by the Ferrari. Nothing Malucelli can do.
19:25: The track seems to be coming to the GTs. Hand has the gap down to two seconds and is closing fast.
19:15: The #2 and #5 pit on the same lap. Davidson gets in the #5 and Lieb remains in the Porsche. Though they’ve pitted together, the Toyota still has better fuel economy which should benefit it as the race closes.
19:10: Conway pits the #6 from second position. Kobayashi will now steer the TS050.
19:00: Muller is eating into the gap Malucelli has at the front. It’s under five seconds. 30 seconds separate the top three in LMP1.
18:52: The Shank and Krohn ligiers oops into the guardrail on Mulsanne. Ryan Briscoe has taken over the Nice Ford GT.
18:34: The local yellows have turned into a slow zone to retrieve the ‘Vette.
18:28: The #2 Porsche completes a scheduled stop and cycles out third. The #50 Labre Corvette running in GTE-Am goes into the gravel, causing a local yellow. Lieb is over the back of Conway’s wing.
18:19: The #7 Audi is wheeled into the garage, again, for more problems. The #6 is in from second. Standard service for Conway and he’s away.
18:11: The #68 Ford is still second, but now 30 seconds behind the Ferrari. Lieb has made up a few seconds on the Toyotas since his stint began in the fight for overall victory.
18:07: Menezes gets in the #36 Alpine to complete his minimum drive time. A slight wheel gun problem is causing a delay. They have to switch guns and after a long time standing still, the LMP2 leader gets going again.
HOUR 18 UPDATE: With the Toyotas close to making it on one fewer stop than Porsche, every slow zone and safety car is crucial. It’s a wide open contest among the front three. The SMP BR-01 is now third in LMP2, a few laps behind the Signatech Alpine which has lead much of the race, and the G-Drive Oreca running second. A drive through for the #68 Ford has relieved some of the pressure on the Risi Ferrari, with the #69 being ford’s main hope, now. In GTE-Am, it’s two Ferraris versus a Porsche in a Scuderia Corsa, Abu Dhabi-Proton Porsche, AF Corse battle. We have the length of a regular WEC race left.
17:41: The #2 pits and Marc Lieb gets in. The #26 pits from second in LMP2 and Rast stays in.
17:36: Huge penalty for the #68 Ford GT! The engine was running while refueling and now they’ll pay with a drive through penalty.
17:24: The LMP2 leader is in. Richelmi stays in the #36.
17:14: The #95 Aston has made its stop with Marco Sorensen getting another tour behind the wheel.
17:07: The two PRO leaders pit and do driver changes. Malucelli in the 488 now and Muller in the GT. The #68 Ford also did a steering wheel change.
17:03: Bourdais trails Vilander by seven seconds in GTE-Pro. Sweedler leads DHH and Collard in Am. As the #2 pursues them, the two Toyotas put the #1 919 another lap down.
16:57: Jani pits for just fuel, releasing the two Toyotas to the lead, but he is right with them.
16:55: Conway and Buemi run nose-to-tail, 56 seconds behind the #2 Porsche who needs to stop.
16:51: the #98 is a certified meme car and has been dealt a drive through for speeding.
16:48: The safety cars withdraw and we resume racing with 7 hours and 11 minutes left to run.
16:43: The #6 Toyota is in, as is its sister car. The Thiriet car gets out of its gargage but stops on pit lane. the team’s mechanics grab it will go back to work.
16:37: The leading LMP2 (#36 Signatech Alpine) car is in its garage, probably for regular maintenance.
16:30: The #30 ESM car is beached and brings out the safety car. On Fox Sports 2, it’s time for Justin Bell’s weird fan walk.
16:21: The #98 spins, again. I hope it isn’t your drinking game. Recovery of the ByKolles car means another slow zone.
16:15: Panciatici wanted to drive his damaged Alpine back but there was no way it could achieve that with the damage. As if the ByKolles entry couldn’t get more ByKolles, it’s now on fire. The driver is out and okay.
16:05: Neel Jani is now in the #2. Porsche did not change tires due to the unscheduled stop a few hours ago for Lieb. They’re still clearing debris from the Milner crash. The #35 Alpine, running fourth in LMP2 has crashed. The car did not wanna turn.
15:56: Milner seems okay and many cars, including the LMP2 leader and the front running PRO cars take advantage of the slow zone to pit.
15:48: Nakijima pits the Toyota from third. In the Pro battle, the GT is triple stinting its tires while the Ferrari is only double stinging. And a big hit for the #64 Corvette! Into the tire bundle at the first chicane. Big damage to the car and a yellow flag is out.
15:43: Nicki Thiim gets past Scott Dixon for third in PRO. The Aston is moving up.
15:33: The top three are still within ten seconds. This is shaping up good.
15:23: Th #38 G-Drive car has an OOPS at the Ford Chicane, has an off, and hits the wall.
15:17: The #2 gets a driver change with Dumas replacing Lieb and comes out ahead of the #5 Toyota and not far behind the #6. It’s game on for the lead.
15:13: Bourdais is within five seconds of Vilander.
15:05: Slow zone on track for the Pegasus car off at Mulsanne, again.
15:00: Driver change for the Pro leading Risi machine. Vilander gets in.
HOUR 15 UPDATE: The top three overall are within 15 seconds as Lieb fights the two Toyotas. Both the #82 Risi Ferrari with Fisichella and #68 Ford with Bourdais are on the same strategy and half a minute apart on the race track. Things remain static in LMP2 and GTE-Am, with the Signatech Alpine and Scuderia Corsa cars leading respectively.
14:44: The #13 Rebellion is officially retired from the race.
14:34: Both the LMP1 and LMP2 leaders stop. Lapierre stays in the P2 leading nissan and Lieb comes out 11 seconds behind the #6 and 2 seconds behind the #5 Toyota.
14:24: Lieb is getting every tenth out of the 919 in an effort to open the gap up before he stops. He’s lapping 1-2 seconds faster than the Toyotas.
14:12: Stops and driver changes for both the Toyotas. Sarrazin rejoins in second and Nakijima settles into third. Lieb is off sequence and has just a 30-second lead. Bourdais has hopped into the Ford GT. He’s immediately on the pace.
13:58: Patrick Long is now in the Abu Dhabi-Proton Porsche with the task of driving down the gap to the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.
13:54: The #2 Porsche stopped just five laps into its stint. Possibly a tire issue. The #7 overshot the Ford Chicane and almost had a big OOPS. Lieb is now a minute behind.
13:50: Major drama! Something has caused Lieb to drop behind the two Toyotas.
13:44: The #69 Ford GT goes to the garage to effect a brake change. Dixon jumps in. in LMP2, Lapierre leads Hirakawa and Stevens. Jeff Segal still has control in GTE-Am.
13:38: As Lieb opens a gap, you have to wonder how much the body work damage on the #6 is costing Kobayashi in pace.
13:34: The #13 Rebellion has stopped on the Mulsanne straight! Sad news. Right now, it’s just a slow zone.
13:27: Lieb pits and comes out in the lead due to the textra time taken on the Toyota stop. He has an eight second gap.
13:22: Kobayashi brings the leading car in as Toyota fuels and tapes up some minor damage. Lieb goes to the lead.
13:16: Davidson pits for fuel only.
13:05: Malucelli and Briscoe, first and second, stop on the same lap. Fisichella gets in the Ferrari but the Australian stays in the Ganassi entry. The #36 Signatech Alpine is in for full maintenance. Nicolas Lapierre gets out and retains the lead in LMP2.
12:55: Despite many cars running into strife, only three cars have officially retired to this point: the #89 WeatherTech Proton Porsche, the #47 KCMG Oreca, and the #91 factory Porsche 911.
12:50: Jarvis pits for fuel, and the #67 Ford GT which is multiple laps down comes in for a driver change. Franchitti gets in the car. The #98 Aston gets a one-minute stop and hold for speeding in a slow zone. These penalties are coming out slower than... than... I can’t think of an analogy. Sue me.
12:39: The #2 919 is in for full service and Marc Lieb gets in. Strakka racing has also completed a fuel stop from fifth in LMP2 and Danny Watts stays in the car.
12:29: Multiple penalties for G-Drive; both the #27 and #26 have recieved a one-minute stop and ago for speeding in slow zones. Especially hurts the #26m who was in contention in LMP2. Kobayashi makes his stop as Marc Lieb waits to get in the #2 Porsche.
12:23: Townsend Bell takes the lead in GTE-Am from the Proton racer of Al Qubaisi. The two TS050s should be in soon.
12:05: Jarvis pits the #8 for fuel only. He’s still two laps behind the leaders and with half the race still to run, is still an outside contender.
HOUR 12 UPDATE:
The #6 Toyota still leads, ahead of the #2 Porsche and #5 Toyota. In LMP2, Thiriet, Signatech, and G-Drive continue to hold down the top three spots. GTLM is still led by Ferrari with Ford GTs creeping in second and third. In GTE-AM, it’s the Proton Porsche and Scuderia Corsa still 1-2.
11:51: The #34 Orecas is off at Arnage and more drama for the #7 Audi, which stopped on track but now has it gong at a very slow pace.
11:42: DHH gets out of the GTE-Am leading Porsche and Al Qubaisi gets his turn. Conway pits the #6 and Kamui Kobayashi now resumes control of the TS050 in the lead.
11:40: Anthony Davidson steps behind of the #5 toyota, relieving Sebastien Buemi.
11:35: The #92 911 is pushed back into the garage after smoke was seen coming from the rear.
11:19: Jarvis gets in the #8 Audi during a full service stop. In GTE-Pro, it’s currently Malucelli, Briscoe, Hand, Sorenson, and Milner.
11:14: The #60 Formula Racing Ferrari has gone off, causing a local yellow.
11:12: Dumas takes a fuel only stop and rejoins in second.
11:06: DHH is the leader for Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing in GTE-Am. Bell runs second and Rob Bell is third.
11:01: Dumas is catching Conway, but it’s important to remember the fuel advantage the Toyotas have had throughout the race.
10:51: Fassler brings in car #7 to replace a punctured tire. The #5 comes in and Buemi will go another stint, taking on fuel only.
10:47: Everyone’s favorite IndyCar commentator and least favorite IndyCar driver, Townsend Bell, gets in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari - replacing Seedler.
10:42: The #71 AF Corse Ferrari, which had been a lead competitor in the Pro class earlier, is way off and in the gravel. Local yellow flags are out.
10:35: In LMP2, Thiriet leads with Mathias Beche in control, ahead of Gustavo Menezes and Rene Rast in the Signatech Apline and G-Drive Oreca respectively.
10:31: The #8 Audi completes a fuel stop and Duval stays in the car.
10:27: Back to green! Dumas gets past Buemi for second, who is due to come in soon.
10:06: Buemi and Dumas find themselves a safety car behind Conway as the field still laps at reduced pace. The #5 is debating what to do in regards to strategy and now rain is reported at the Porsche curves.
10:04: Dumas brings the #2 Porsche in for service underneath the safety car. The #66 Ford is back in the garage after it was just in with electrical issues.
10:00: The #91 Porsche’s day gets worse. It looks like their engine has expired and they’ve leaked oil all over the Porsche Curves. The safety cars are out. The Algrave Ligier is off.
09:52: Conway leads Dumas by about eight seconds and Sebastian Buemi is a minute back. Duval is a lap behind.
09:39: The #1 sits in the garage, again. The #5 of Buemi brings his TS050 in for fuel and gets on his way. Pla hops in the #66 Ford GT.
09:32: The #1 rejoins but immediately has a problem and is very slow on track. There are yellow flags out at the Porsche Curves for the KCMG #47 Oreca, another one that has rejoined the race after previously having a problem.
09:25: The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari stops from second in the Am class. The #8 Audi pits with a tire puncture and resumes.
09:15: The #2 pits from the lead and Dumas takes over. the #1 looks like it’s finally about to go back out, after an hour in the garage. The ByKolles entry, bent on being an annoyance, is leaking fluid according to Sebastien Buemi.
09:08: Another off for the Morgan Nissan entered by Pegasus Racing. This one’s at Arnage. More problems for Tracy Krohn, who has a tire puncture out on the track.
HOUR 9 UPDATE: The #1 Porsche and #8 Audi have run into troubles. The #8 Audi is still within a shot, but the #1 919 is fading fast and still in the garage. Thiriet leads Signatech Alpine in LMP2. Muller and Westbrook have their Fords P1 and P3, with Vilander second. Pat Long leads Bill Sweedler in GTE-Am.
Lots of key runners have run into drama in the last three hours. kcmg, Manor, the #7 and #8 Audis, the #1 Porsche, and the #98 Aston. Three hours until halfway and the night is young at Le Mans.
08:54: The #6 Toyota is in for a stop as the safety car period ends. Conway gets in and gets new tires as the #2 is right on his heels.
08:50: The safety car is to repair damaged barriers. It should end soon.
08:44: According to a message from the race director, the #61 Clearwater Ferrari is losing parts of its rear. That is not ideal! Not ideal at all. Many cars taking the opportunity for full service. The Signatech Alpine went into the garage for full service and the #5 Toyota comes in for full service and a nose change.
08:37: The Signatech entry is in the garage from the LMP2 lead. Not sure if it’s for a problem or just service, yet.
08:32: The Manor has gone off in the Porsche Curves and has damaged the rear end! We have the safety cars deployed.
08:27: The #98 Aston leading the GTE-Am class has stopped on class. The #83 Ferrari is also off.
08:22: The #7 Audi is back in the garage. Problems for bother Audi and Porsche, but the Toyotas are so far - knock on wood - flying high.
08:16: Alarms go off in the Porsche garage and the #1 is wheeled into the garage! It could be a battery problem as the car is raised and Hartley steps out.a blow for the defending world champions.
08:11: Standard service for the #1 Porsche and Hartley continues the mission. Paul Dalla Lana now is jumps in the #98 Aston.
08:06: Pierre Thiriet leads LMP2. Muller has the Ford GT in the GTE-Pro lead. Jeff Segal leads GTE-Am in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, ahead of Patrick Long and Pedro Lamy in the Aston.
08:00: As we hit the one third mark, it’s a Toyota vs. Porsche scrap for the lead. Audi is going to need some help.
07:53: It’s the #68's turn to stop, and Muller replaces Bourdais. Now the #8 Audi is in the garage, also getting a fix! They’ll go a lap down. The R18s are going to need a lot of help now.
07:50: The #7 Audi is brought in and wheeled into the garage. The service is quicker than last time and they rejoin. Westbrook replaces Dixon in the #69 Ford GT.
07:34: The Signatech Alpine with Rechelmi still driving is in the lead of LMP2.
07:29: Slow zone issued to recover the KCMG entry.
07:20: The #47 KCMG P2 car is limping down the straights. Last year’s class winners and one of this year’s top competitors is in trouble.
07:13: Sarrazin leads by ten seconds over Bernhard and Jani. Nakajima, in the sister Toyota, runs fourth. Di Grassi is sixth. Toyota not only has strong pace, but strong fuel economy.
07:02: The #6 pits from the lead for a fuel only stop. Sarrazin rejoins and the #1 Porsche takes the lead.
06:52: Bernhard is sporting four sad tires after that earlier lock-up. He’s trying to hold off until that scheduled stop. Bourdais brings in the #68 Ford from the lead in GTE-Pro. It’s just fuel for the GT and he’s away.
06:48: The #67 Ford GT, Marino Franchitti piloting, locks up and goes in the barriers at Mulsanne.
06:44: Another slow zone in the Porsche Curves, this time to retrieve the #99.
06:38: The #44 Manor entry is in the garage. The #99 Aston spins off into the gravel as Andrew Marriot does an awkward interview with Tom Kristensen.
06:32: A huge lock-up for the #1 919 as it attempts to slow down for the slow zone at the Porsche Curves. Bernhard barely manages to avoid the barrier.
06:27: The #1 Porsche’s last stop is under investigation, though the reasoning behind it remains unclear. The #57 Corvette has hit strife again, in the gravel at the Porsche curves. A slow zone is implemented.
06:20: Dixon goes into second, passing Malucelli as we enter the final minutes of sunlight in France.
06:14: It’s on again between Ford and Ferrari. Bourdais moves to the lead and Dixon is not far behind the 488.
06:10: The #6 completes it schedule stop, including a driver change. Kobayashi gets out and Sarrazin hops in his place. He keeps the lead.
06:08: A slow zone has been implemented toward the end of the Mulsanne for the Pegasus car going off.
6 HOUR UPDATE: Porsche, Audi, and Toyota continue to exchange the lead through pit stops, with the TS050s still getting the best mileage. Kobayashi leads for Toyota. A spin for the race leading Manor and a penalty for G-Drive has slightly reshuffled the LMP2 order. It’s Hirakawa for Thiriet in front of the Signatech Alpine of Richelmi and the KCMG Oreca of Matthew Howson. Ferrari and Ford continue to exchange blows in GTE-Pro. The Risi car with Malucelli leads Dixon and Bourdais in the two GTs. It’s till the Abu Dhabi-Proton and KCMG Porsches in front of the #98 Aston in Am.
05:53: The 32 Porsche is in and Jani replaces Lieb. The #68 Ford GT also stops, with Bourdais in the car. It’s two IndyCar drivers running second and third in GTE-Pro.
05:44: Time for another round of LMP1 stops. the #8 Audi and #1 Porsche are in. Di Grassi gets in the R18, as Bernhard replaces Webber in the 919.
05:37: The G-Drive Oreca has been served a penalty for fueling with the engine on.
05:33: Webber continues to lead ahead of Kobayashi in the battle of F1 stars turned factory sportscar drivers. Pit stops unfolding across all four classes.
05:24: ESM with big drama now on the #31. He has a puncture and will have to tripod his way all around the 8.5 mile circuit to pit lane.
05:20: Cumming locks the brakes in the slow zone and spins without hitting anything.
05:16: The #57 Team AAI Corvette of the GTE-Am category has shunted at the Porsche curves, resulting in local yellow flags. The car is now beached.
05:13: The #92 Porsche has emerged from the garage, several laps down. Both factory GTE-Pro entries have suffered problems in the opening six hours of the race.
05:08: Davidson boldly passes some GT traffic by exceeding the track limits. The Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca, RYO HIRAKAWA (that’s fun to say), driving.
05:01: Prototypes now stopping for fuel. The #8 Audi had its left door replaced. Why? Well, heck if I know. The Manor dropped to fourth in class after its spin. the #2 Porsche 919 is now in as the #6 Toyota cycles to the front.
04:57: IndyCar stud, Scott Dixon, is now in the #69 Ford. He and Mateo Malucelli have a good battle but the GT is the leader.
04:51: The LMP2 leading Manor goes off at turn one! Rao gets it turned around and going again. Meanwhile, the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche from the Am class has come to a halt on the circuit.
04:42: Lauda goes off into the gravel but gathers it back up. Briscoe has gone up into second to make it a Ganassi 1-2 in GTE-Pro.
04:37: Vilander, now under pressure from Briscoe, moves over in the braking zone at Arnage and makes slight contact with the Labre Corvette. Both continue, unscathed.
04:31: Joey Hand takes the Ford GT to the lead, past Vilander in the Ferrari! Briscoe lies not far behind.
04:27: The Pegasus racing Morgan spins at the Porsche curves, minutes after spinning at the first corner, but only makes soft contact with the wall.
04:25: Mathias Lauda has moved Aston Martin to third in GTE-Am and Gustavo Menezes has the Signatech Alpine Nissan third, with the KCMG Oreca dropping to fourth.
04:18: The #2 and #1 Porsches stop for scheduled service as the slow zones are removed. The track is at full green, once again. No tires for either 919.
04:10: The #8 Audi stops for fuel while the ByKolles car slows, again.
04:05: Krohn goes in too deep and trips over the kerbs. The green machine is stuck in the gravel.
04:00: Milner and Davide Rigon have a close call battling for fifth in GTE-Pro.
03:56: The Dempsey-Proton Porsche has crashed at turn one! The #91 was in for a radiator change and the #92 stops for a driver change with Bergmeister getting in for Bamber. The Racing Performance Oreca has gone off again, as the Porsche is craned off.
03:51: The #91 Porsche 911 is in the garage. Kevin Estre gets in and they do a brake and tire change.
03:46: Hand passes Briscoe for second. The Racing Performance Oreca LMP2 went of and stopped at Indianapolis. The #5 had to make an extra stop for some sort of tire drama, but Anthony Davidson is driving now. Kamui Kobayashi has stepped into the #6 Toyota.
03:40: Briscoe and Hand are locked together in the two U.S. run Ford GTs, running second and third in Pro. Vilander still leads. In Am, it’s still the KCMG, Abu Dhabi-Proton, and Gulf Racing Porsches running in the top three.
03:33: Lieb gets in the cockpit of the #2 Porsche. The Toyotas are going longer, again.
03:25: LMP1 stops unfolding. Jarvis gets in the #8 Audi and gets his tires changed. The #1 Porsche pits, with Webber replacing Hartley. A strange delay on the #1 with the tires, but they’re back going. On the track, Conway sets the fastest lap of the race.
03:16: A GTE-Pro update for you: The Risi Ferrari with Toni Vilander leads with Ryan Briscoe in the nice Ford second.
03:09: KCMG is doing something similar to Toyota in the main LMP category, by running a lap longer on its stints.
03:05: Milner hops in the #64 Corvette, replacing Gavin. The C7.Rs are still struggling for pace compared to Ferrari and Ford.
HOUR 3 UPDATE: As we complete the first eighth of the race, a Porsche leads but Toyota has strong pace and the fuel advantage. Audi #8 is still in the game, but the #7 is five laps down due to a turbocharger issue and has some work to do. In LMP2, it’s still Manor leading Thiriet and KCMG in an all-Oreca top three. Porsche set the pace in the damp opening to the race in GTE-Pro, but as the track has dried, the controversial Ford GTs and Ferrari 488s have moved to the front. Porsche does, however, dominate the Am category, with Henzler, Long, and Barker composing the top three.
02:54: The #51 AF Corse Ferrari is in the garage! They’ve been running well in Pro all day, but something unfortunate has struck the 488.
02:51: There is no doubt the Toyotas have a fuel-mileage advantage. The #6 and #5 do 14 lap stints, again. The #1 retakes the lead for the moment. No driver change for either TS050.
02:48: Fisichella is now hounding Westbrook for the lead in GTE-Pro. Dumas stops the #2 Porsche; once again, for fuel only.
02:43: The #1 stops for fuel only and Hartley rejoins the race.
02:37: The third round of LMP1 stops has begun. The #8 refuels and Duval is on his way.
02:30: Calado and Fisichella battle it out for second. The ByKolles entry is back in its garage.
02:22: Scott Sharp is in with a problem on his ESM P2 car. The #67 Ford has been back in the garage for 30 minutes.
02:14: It’s a Porsche 1-2 in GTE-Am with Long in front of Henzler. The driver change dropped the #92 to sixth in Pro, with Westbrook leading Calado and Fisichella in Ferraris and Muller in fourth in another Ford GT.
02:06: The #92 Porsche 911 gets a driver change, swapping Makowiecki for Bamber and taking fuel and tires.
02:02: The Toyota runners now stop, cycling Hartley to the lead, but Conway lurks only a second back as he rejoins.
01:59: The #2 pits as the two TS050s onve again go longer than anyone else. Westbrook, meanwhile, has put the Ford GT in the lead.
01:54: Duval is in for scheduled service. The #8 receives fuel only. Hartley follows, after 13 laps of racing. Conway leads. Westbrook is taking considerable time out of Mako’s lead.
01:50: Bird goes around Pilet for fifth in GTE-Pro. It’s still the #92 leading with Makowiecki ahead of the #69 Ford of Westbrook.
01:40: The #7 rejoins, five laps down. The top three in LMP1 are right together on the race track, with Conway having caught Dumas and Duval.
01:35: Hartley has regained the lead for Porsche. It’s now raining at the Mulsanne.
01:30: In LMP2, it’s Manor leading, wither Roberto Mehri behind the wheel. Leh Keen leads the GTE-Am catergory in the WeatherTech Proton Porsche.
01:25: The #8 Audi, piloted by Duval, takes point in the race. Toyotas #6 and #5 run third and fourth with the #2 Porsche in fifth. Lotterer is still in the garage getting its issues sorted. Rain could be on the way, again.
01:20: The race leader is in and backed into the garage! The #7 Audi has a drama and now the #1 Porsche of Brendon Hartley leads.
01:18: Gavin, Pilet, and Fisichella fight for third in Pro, with the #4 Corvette getting in front. The Shank car now begins its 5-minute penalty.
01:13: The two Toyotas now transition to slicks, releasing Lotter into the lead.
01:09: The #1 Porsche and #8 Audi both change to slicks. Those still on wets are searching for water wherever they can.
01:04: The #7 Audi switches to slicks and Lotterer rejoins. In GTE-Pro, the two 911s have taken the top two spots. It’s the #91 ahead of the #92.
01:00: Mike Conway has gone ahead of Neel Jani for the overall lead of the race! The Porsche 911s which love wet and mixed conditions are now in the lead battle in GTE-Pro.
00:57: Jani completes the first lap under green as Conway and Lotterer scrap for third. In GTE-Pro, the battle for second is on with James Calado in the AF Corse Ferrari fighting the #69 and #66 Fords.
00:51: After 50 minutes behind the safety car, the race goes green and racing at Le Mans begins. Neel Jani, the starting driver of the #2 919 leads the field onto the Mulsanne.
00:49: Some drivers, including Nick Heidfeld, still say there’s too much standing water on track.
00:40: The Shank Ligier is in for service. The race should be getting on shortly, with the track nearly dry enough for intermediate tires.
00:25: The #12 Rebellion is in the lane with some sort of issue.
00:14: Extreme Speed Motorsports has smartly pitted behind the safety car and put their bronze driver, Chris Cumming in. The #67 is finally joining the race, two laps down. The CLM ByKolles LMP1 is a lap down.
00:08: The second lap of the race begins, still behind safety car.
00:04: The #67 has a gearbox drama, per the race’s Twitter account.
00:00: The 24 Hours of Le Mans is underway, behind the safety car.
5-Minutes Before Start: The #67 Ford GT is being wheeled into the garage, but the cause is not yet known. The race will start behind the safety car.
20-Minutes Before Start: With rain pouring, the race has been declared wet. WeatherTech Proton driver Cooper MacNeil will not be competing, as he is ill. Hid co-drivers, Leh Keen and Marc Miller will go by themselves.
The Build-Up: A rain affected second qualifying gave Porsche a 1-2 on the grid with the #2 919 (Jani, Dumas, Lieb) ahead of the #1. The #26 G-Drive Oreca Nissan of Roman Rusinov, Will Stevens, and Rene Rast. In GTE-Pro, the Ford GTs dominated qualifying, but after several pre-race balance of performance changes, the race is wide open. In the Am category, the Clearwater Ferrari of Rob Bell, Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa is on pole.
(cover image: https://twitter.com/FIAWEC/status/…)