Welcome to the biggest day in all of endurance and sports car racing. Welcome to 24 hours for history, glory, and immortality. Welcome to Le Mans 2015.
(Welcome to the 83rd running of one of the most important motor races of the year. Want to know more about this year’s race and the competitors? Check out our handy guide. Your live blog hosts today are Fred “Porsche9146” Smith (Posts marked with a P), Danny “DannyCatSteve” CatSteve (Posts marked with a D), Jeff “Nobody1300” (Posts marked with an N) and Andrew “Bakkster” Bakke (Posts marked with a B). Updates will be posted periodically in ascending order, with all time stamps in EST.)
9:20 AM, D: Another endurance classic is done and dusted. Every Le Mans 24 leaves us with something special and this year it is the returned success of Porsche and vindication for Nico Hulkenberg. This will be one of the most rememberd victories in Le Mans history and the world’s greatest race continues to produce memories.
On behalf of Fred, Nobody, and Bakke, I’d like to thank all of you who read our blog over the past day. We hope we informed you and had some fun along the way. Our next live blog should be the Bathurst 1,000 in October, but until then and until Le Mans next year, thanks for reading. The Sarthe sleeps... for now.
For more, follow @rennsportstaff on Twitter. (Credit to @porsche for the header image)
LMP1: After a fast, flawless drive, the #19 919 Porsche has won the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans piloted by Nico “Incredible” Hulkenberg, Earl “Essendon” Bamber, and Nick “The Tandy Man” Tandy. The #18 919 of Brendan Hartley, Mark Webber, and Timo Bernhard is second. The first of the Audis comes home third in the form of the Fassler, Lotterer, and Treluyer machine.
LMP2: It was really never in doubt for KCMG. A dominating performance sees Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley, and Nicolas Lapierre take the checkered flag. JOTA Sport snatches P2 in LMP2 with Mitch Evans, Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan. G-Drive rounds out the podium with Sam Bird, Julien Canal, and Romain Rusinov.
GTE-Pro: It took most of the race to decide, but Corvette has rallied after losing one of their cars before the race even started to get another win at Circuit de La Sarthe with Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin, and Jordan Taylor. The two AF Corses are next: Davide Rigon, James Calado, Olivier Beretta come home second and Gimmi Bruni, Toni Vilander, and Giancarlo Fisichella cross the line in third after being in contention for the win so long.
GTE-Am: SMP Racing takes the top step after Aston Martin’s unfortunate last hour crash. Victor Shaitar, Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov claim the glory in front of the Dempsey Porsche of Patrick Long, Patrick Dempsey and Marco Seefried. The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari rounds out the podium with Jeff Segal, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, and Townsend Bell’s hat.
Retirements: 34, 53, 98, 42, 55, 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
8:56 AM, D: Final lap.
8:44 AM, D: Rain is starting to pick up near the end. Will it offer one more twist for us?
8:34 AM, D: All major positions seem resolved. The #19 has run the perfect race.
8:30 AM, D: Half an hour left and I haven’t slept. I’m such a fool.
8:18 AM, D: Dalla Lana is out of the car and okay but is surely heartbroken.
8:15 AM, D: Hard hit for the #98 Aston who was leading GTE-Am! With just 45 minutes left their chances for victory have been dashed.SMP Racing will take the lead as a slow zone is declared for the Ford Chicanes.
8:00 AM, D: HOUR 23 UPDATE
LMP1: The top three is the same as the last hour as we enter the closing 60 minutes Hulkenberg, Hartley, Treluyer will finish the races, respectively.
LMP2: JOTA Sport has moved into second but is still too far behind Nicolas Lapierre in the KCMG Orecca to challenge at the moment. Sam Bird is in third for G-Drive.
GTE-Pro: Oliver Gavin will bring the #64 home for a likely victory. The #71 AF Corse Ferrari benefited from its sister car’s problems and is in second. The #51 has been relegated to third.
GTE-Am: Pedro Lamy has a comfortable margin for Aston Martin. Andrea Bertolini runs second for SPM. The Dempsey Racing Porsche is in third right now but the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari is on the same lap, albeit nearly three minutes behind.
Retirements: 42, 55, 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
One hour to go, boys. Also, Krohn slow because of course.
7:41 AM, D: #23 Nissan struggled to get the car pulled up in the Porsche curves. The car is now on fire with Mardenborough behind the wheel.
7:36 AM, D: Turvey moves into second in class for JOTA Sport. The #51 AF Corse is finally back out. They’re still in third, but seven laps down to the leading Corvette.
7:24 AM, D: Turvey is closingin on Sam Bird for second in LMP2. The gap at the moment is just seven seconds. Hulkenberg is in the #19 now to close out the race.
7:16 AM, D: The #51 is still in the garage. The #71 could jump its sister car for second in class here, shortly. Extensive work being done on the gearbox of the #51 458.
7:08 AM, D: What a disaster for the #51 AF Corse Ferrari! The car has slowed drastically and is being pushed into the garage. This puts the #64 Corvette in the lead of GTE-Pro! Le Mans bites hard.
7:04 AM, D: What could have been: All three Audi R18’s have set lap times in the 3:17s during the race. Unless something drastic happens, third is the best they can hope for. The #7 currently holds its spot.
7:00 AM, D: HOUR 22 UPDATE
LMP1: Bamber (Porsche #19), Hartley (Porsche #17), Treluyer (Audi #7) is the top three. The Hulk will most likely finish out in the #19.
LMP2: The G-Drive cars hasn’t been able to capitalize on the previous off by the KCMG Oreca, but the JOTA Sport racer is just 18 seconds behind with Oliver Turvey chasing Sam Bird.
GTE-Pro: Taylor continues to pursue Vilander in the 458. Calado holds third in the category.
GTE-Am: After Townsend Bell spun in an attempt to move into third in GTE-Am, he was able to get right back up to the #77 but the battle was brought to a halt with Bell being dealt a stop and go for speeding in pit lane.
Retirements: 42, 55, 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
6:55 AM, D: The two GTE-Pro leaders are in pit lane. Taylor hands over controls to Oliver Gavin and Vilander stays behind the wheel for AF Corse.
6:47 AM, D: A Safe is Fast dot com plug as the #7 comes in once again to fix its engine cover ailes.
6:41 AM, D: Now the #7 Audi is bitten by the garage bug and is wheeled in. More quick service though and Benoit is back out quickly.
6:32 AM, D: Townsend Bell is ready for another crack at the third step of the podium. He’s once again right behing Patrick Long. The #62 serves a drive through penalty for speeding in pit lane, apparently? Bell will have to make his way back to the #77 Porsche.
6:20 AM, D: The #47 rejoins so the dramas aren’t as major as we thought.
6:18 AM, D: The #9 Audi is finally back on track, but is 8 laps down. MASSIVE DRAMAS now as the #47 KCMG car goes off at Indianapolis from the LMP2 lead.
6:10 AM, D: Jordan Taylor is five seconds behind Bruni for the GTE-Pro lead. Unfortunately Townsend Bell spins while battling with the Dempsey Racing Porsche. The back end steps out around the outside of Mulsanne corner.
6:04 AM, D: Haven’t slept during the race yet because I’m
a loser with no social life not a poser like other people. RT if you are not a poser ~
6:00 AM, D: HOUR 21 UPDATE
LMP1: Looks like Porsche’s race to lose, now. Bamber leads in the #19 over Timo Bernhard in the #17. The problem for the #9 according to FS1 was hybrid dramas, dropping it from the podium to 5th. The all-er car is third and Loic Duval pilots the fourth placed #8 which has had its fair share of problems this race.
LMP2: Nicolas Lapierre continues KCMG’s dominance. Sam Bird has the G-Drive Ligier second but doesn’t look like he is capable of challenging the Oreca. Mitch Evans is third in the JOTA Sport Gibson.
GTE-Pro: This battle looks like it will go to the end. AF Corse controls the pace right nowwith Bruni in front of Taylor in the Corvette.The #71 AF Corse 458 in the hands of James Calado is four laps behind.
GTE-Am: Pedro Lamy still leads in the #98 Aston. Andrea Bertolini is two laps behind in the SMP Racing Ferrari. Townsend Bell’s hat has a strong chance to be on the podium, currently in third. No, I won’t let the hat thing go.
Retirements: 42, 55, 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
5:45 AM, D: More headaches for the #91. They can’t get the right rear off the 911 RSR. Looks like the Rolling Stone ESM entry rolled into some stones hahahahahahahahahahaha I made this joke four times during the race all ready.
5:39 AM, D: Bonanomi straight lined the second chicane immediately after coming out. Still not sure what the cause of their recent troubles is.
5:34 AM, D: Hopefully we don’t pull a Peugot 2010 and comprehensively fail. See Fred, I went with a five year irrelevant reference. The #9 Audi which was second is in the garage with a problem! Attention was paid to the left front as it goes back out. This puts the #7 in third.
5:30 AM, P: And with the St. Kilda Saints completing an exciting comeback win against Melbourne, Danny “The Danielnator” CatSteve returns as our Allan McNish to guide this blog to its end. Hopefully, he’ll go with less forced Le Mans metaphors that haven’t been relevant in three years.
5:24 AM, P: I wrote yesterday that I didn’t quite believe that the Team AAI Porsches were real because I hadn’t seen any video of them. We’ve sure seen a lot of video of them today. Unfortunately, not for the better...
5:21 AM, P: Whatever the issue on the #48 Murphy Prototypes car was, it wasn’t as bad as originally thought, as that car returns to the circuit after about an hour of service.
5:12 AM, P: Oh, hey. Rain. Light precipitation reported at Tetre Rouge.
5:11 AM, P: AF Corse #51 retakes the lead in GTE-Pro after the #64 Corvette’s stop to change tires.
5:08 AM, P: ...So there’s no rain, then? Why was a wet track declared?
5:07 AM, P: The #91 Porsche, third in GTE-Pro and previously on the tail end of the lead lap, is in the garage with the hood off. No word on the issue yet.
5:06 AM, P: A bit of excitement by the Dunlop bridge as the #17 Porsche flies off-track at turn 1 to avoid an AF Corse Ferrari. Somehow, the car rejoins the track without issue or damage.
5:00 AM, P: Hour 20 Update
LMP1: For yet another hour, there is little change overall. Porsche #19 has a wide lead on Porsche #17, which is ahead of all of the Audis (Only the #9 among them being close to one of the top 919 Hybrids) and, well adrift, the #18 Porsche.
LMP2: After issues earlier decimated their 2 lap lead, the #47 KCMG Oreca has stretched their lead back out to two full minutes over the #26 G-Drive branded Ligier. Just behind that car is the #38 Jota Zytek/Gibson, also on the lead lap.
GTE-Pro: Corvette Racing #64 leads AF Corse Ferrari #51 by a slim margin.
GTE-Am: No change as the #98 Aston Martin continues to hold down a big lead.
On the lead lap: 19, 17 (LMP1), 47, 26, 38 (LMP2), 51, 64, 91 (GTE-Pro), 98 (GTE-Am)
Retirements: 42, 55, 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
4:59 AM, P: And with 20 hours down, the track has been declared wet as rain is imminent on the Mulsanne. Corvette Racing’s #63 immediately pits for a new set of slicks.
4:58 AM, P: GTE-Pro’s battle for the lead has closed to just 2 seconds, after being as large as 12 seconds.
4:53 AM, P: Audi #7 receives a drive-through penalty for attempting to start a pass on Porsche #19 to unlap itself again. With the #8 Audi just 50 seconds back, that may promote that car to fifth and demote the #7 to sixth.
4:47 AM, P: Strakka Racing Dome #42 is officially listed as a retirement after their gearbox troubles a few hours ago.
4:31 AM, P: It’s a brake change for the #72 Ferrari in the pit lane after their issue at Indianapolis. Seems like a strange repair for that, but whatever fixes the issue I guess.
4:30 AM, P: After a few minutes stuck in the gravel, the #72 Ferrari rejoins.
4:26 AM, P: The #72 SMP Racing Ferrari, running second in GTE-Am for the majority of the race and having just closed down the gap to the lead in that class to around a minute, slowly spins into the tire barriers at Indianapolis.
4:23 AM, P: The Murphy Prototypes #48 Oreca 03, running in third or fourth for most of the night and morning, is in the pits with an undisclosed, but apparently major, issue. It had previously spun in front of the GTE-Pro leading #64 Corvette at Arnage and rejoined without issue, about 20 minutes ago.
4:18 AM, P: Minor electronic issue for the #18 Porsche, which seems to be taking on all of the possible problems for the other 919s Hybrids.
4:17 AM, P: SMP Racing BR01 #27 goes off, collects a puncture, and successfully limps home without further issue.
4:14 AM, P: Audi #9 is slowly losing contact with Porsche #17, now 43 seconds adrift of second.
4:12 AM, P: AF Corse #55, a GTE-Am entry, retires with a fueling issue.
4:00 AM, P: Hour 19 Update
LMP1: No change here as Porsche #19 continues to hold a hefty lead over Porsche #17 and Audi #9.
LMP2: There’s no change in the running order, but there’s a big change in the race: After stopping on track twice over the course of a lap, what was once a two lap lead for KCMG’s #47 Oreca 05 is now just a 90 second lead. In second is still the #26 G-Drive-branded OAK Ligier, and in third is the #38 Jota Zytek/Gibson.
GTE-Pro: Corvette Racing #64 finally grabbed the GTE lead with a fast stop at the same time as the #51 AF Corse Ferrari about fifty minutes ago, and now leads by about ten seconds. Porsche Team Manthey #91 sits at the tail end of the lead lap.
GTE-Am: Little change here as Aston Martin #98 still leads SMP Racing Ferrari #72 by just over a lap and Scuderia Corsa Ferrari #62 by a few laps more.
On the lead lap: 19, 17, 9 (LMP1), 47, 26, 38 (LMP2), 51, 64, 91 (GTE-Pro), 98 (GTE-Am)
Retirements: 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
3:56 AM, P: AF Corse #51 has cut the GTE-Pro lead from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the past two laps.
3:52 AM, P: After all of KCMG’s issues, their #47 Oreca leads by only a minute and thirty seconds, a far cry from the two lap lead they had previously held. The battle in LMP2 is alive yet again.
3:40 AM, P: Corvette #64 is cleared of wrongdoing in their earlier pit release, having stretched what is now a safe GTE-Pro lead to 12 seconds over the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.
3:39 AM, P: KCMG #47 restarts, only to stall again at the Dunlop bridge.
3:36 AM, P: Major, major dramas for the LMP2-leading KCMG car that has run a bulletproof race so far, which sits stopped at Mulsanne corner. The #23 Nissan was there for a few moments as well, but has reversed out and rejoined the track. The #47 KCMG Oreca 05 coupe had a 2 lap lead in class over the #26 OAK G-Drive entry before this incident.
3:33 AM, P: Turns out, Carrera Cup Germany can lead you places:
3:32 AM, P: Apparently, the issue for the Strakka Dome was that the car was stuck in fifth gear. No explanation has been given as to why it was also dumping gallons of fluid onto the track from the back at a fairly steady pace. I guess some cars just do that in fifth gear.
3:31 AM, P: After getting lapped again, Audi #7 unlaps itself for a second time. It’s still one and the vast majority of another lap down.
3:30 AM, P: More good news as Fox Sports 1 has finally finished its all-important 2:30 AM EST edition of Fox Sports Live and has returned to showing live racing.
3:25 AM, P: Oh, hey. Tracy Krohn spun. As predictable as a Matthew Perry sitcom getting greenlit as a midseason replacement and then cancelled before the first season finale airs.
Oh, The Odd Couple reboot got a second season? Maybe Tracy Krohn will change too.
3:24 AM, P: The #42 Strakka Racing Dome is parked on the start/finish straight with an apparent issue, and there is now a slow zone in that sector of track. The car is rapidly leaking fluid from the back.
3:21 AM, P: Corvette Racing is being investigated for an unsafe release from the pit lane on the stop that got them the lead in GTE-Pro. Could lead to a penalty.
3:18 AM, P: After a few desperate attempts to get around the #64 Corvette, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari is starting to slowly fall back in the battle for the GTE-Pro class lead.
3:10 AM, P: Eighteen hours in, we’ve got a full-on GTE-Pro battle for the lead. Tommy Milner is pushing the #64 Corvette hard, but he can’t shake Toni Vilander in the #51 Ferrari.
3:07 AM, P: Corvette Racing #64 takes the GTE-Pro lead from AF Corse #51 in the pits!
3:00 AM, P: Hour 18 Update
LMP1: Porsche #19 still holds a steady two or three minute lead overall, with Porsche #17 and Audi #9 seemingly trading the second position on every stop. Audi #7 is back to just one lap down after unlapping itself from Porsche #19 a few laps back, but Audi #8 remains three down with Porsche #18.
LMP2: KCMG’s impressive lead is unyielding, now two full laps ahead of the #26 OAK G-Drive Ligier. There’s just a lap between that car and Jota’s #38 Zytek/Gibson, Murphy Prototypes’s #48 Morgan and the #28 OAK G-Drive Ligier.
GTE-Pro: After finally getting back to the rear of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, Corvette #64 stays in a dogfight, but still trails that car. Manthey Porsche #91 has closed to within 3 minutes of those leaders.
GTE-Am: Despite a major off at the Porsche Curves by Canadian amateur Paul Dalla Lana, Porsche #98 still leads GTE-Am over SMP Racing’s #72 Ferrari, which they now have a lap on. Scuderia Corse Ferrari #62, meanwhile, has finally passed the #77 Demspey Proton Porsche to take third in class.
On the lead lap: 19, 17, 9 (LMP1), 47 (LMP2), 51, 64, 91 (GTE-Pro), 98 (GTE-Am)
Retirements: 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
2:38 AM, P: Tracy Krohn spun? Tracy Krohn spun. Been a while, Tracy. We missed that.
2:37 AM, P: Audi #7 finally gets the first of their two laps behind the leader back, but still remain over a lap behind the cars running second and third.
2:34 AM, P: With Nissan #23 returning from lengthy repairs, there is a Nissan GT-R LM on track for the first time since the sun rose.
2:31 AM, P: A storyline worth considering as Nico Hulkenberg continues to lead overall is that he came into Formula 1 by winning at every level of open wheel ladder competition without a ride waiting for him in Formula 1 well ahead of time, something very few drivers have done since the inception of GP2, and if he wins today, he’ll not only be able to claim a career maker nobody else in Formula 1 has, he’ll be the first guy to come out of the EOWR ladder all on his own in almost a decade to reach the pinnacle.
2:23 AM, P: Clear skies down Mulsanne last lap, gray clouds return this lap. The weather of Le Mans.
2:11 AM, P: Back to green and Mark Webber, in Porsche #17, puts a pass on Rene Rast in the #9 Audi to put Porsche in the top two positions. Quickly afterward, the #51 Ferrari retakes the lead in GTE-Pro, which it very briefly gave to the #64 of Oliver Gavin under safety car.
2:08 AM, P: Hour 17 Update/Safety Car 4 Update
LMP1: Porsche #19 leads overall even after being right next to the Aston Martin incident that brought out this safety car and spending a few seconds in the garage. Audi #9 and Porsche #17 are under the same safety car now, a massive 2/3rds of a lap behind the #19. Audi #7 is two laps down, Audi #8 and Porsche #18 three.
LMP2: Pretty much the same things. KCMG leads G-Drive #26 leads Jota and Murphy Prototypes.
GTE-Pro: With the #51 AF Corse Ferrari undergoing its brake pad change under this safety car period, #64 Corvette takes the lead in class. the #51 Ferrari is still ahead of the #91 Team Manthey Porsche.
GTE-Pro: The #98 Aston Martin is now half a lap ahead of the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari, and both are still a few laps ahead of the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche.
On the lead lap: 19, 9, 17 (LMP1), 47 (LMP2), 51, 64, 91 (GTE-Pro), 98, 72 (GTE-Am)
Retirements: 96, 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
2:06 AM, P: Aston Martin confirms earlier reports. Let’s hope for the best and be thankful we avoided the worst.
2:01 AM, P: The overall leader, Porsche #19, goes behind the wall for a check-over under the safety car and takes a tire change, but doesn’t undergo any major changes past a new piece of rear bodywork. Thanks to the safety car rules here, they’ve lost no time undergoing those extra repairs compared to what they would’ve lost taking fuel under this safety car period.
1:56 AM, P: Andrew Marriott of Fox Sorts reports that Roald Goethe is headed to the infield medical center, while Nick de Groot of Motorsport.com reports he was awake and talking to his team over the radio before getting out of the car. It still isn’t being widely reported, but those are good first signs after a very scary hit on an unprotected wall.
1:47 AM, P: Roald Goethe, driver of that #96 Aston Martin, is still being attended to. Let’s hope he’s okay.
1:41 AM, P: The #96 GTE-Am Aston Martin takes a hard hit into a concrete wall after spinning out in the early parts of the permanent portion of the track, bringing out the fourth safety car.
1:28 AM, P: At this risk of fawning, this has been a spectacular race so far. LMP1 has always been in play with a fluctuating number of cars, GTE-Pro has seen huge battles on and off, GTE-Am has seen comers-and-goers up front as the pro drivers cycle through and LMP2 has even produced some good battles behind the domination up front. Unlike most sports car races (And the last few Le Mans), the amateur drivers have been safe and the professionals have been courteous. What an event.
1:10 AM, P: Marcel Fassler reports “All good” in the #7 Audi, but it now falls another position to fifth, 16 seconds back of the #8 Audi that also underwent repairs.
1:03 AM, P: Audi #7 rejoins after a six minute delay, very long by minor Audi repair standards but very short by all other standards humanly possible. That car lost two laps undergoing those repairs and now sits just ahead of Audi #8. Porsche #19 and Audi #9, the two one-off entries for the top two teams, are now the only cars with unblemished records of long delays through 16 hours.
1:00 AM, P: Hour 16 Update
LMP1: Porsche #19 has stretched out a pretty handy lead, but the headline of the hour is the second-placed #7 Audi losing a large chunk of bodywork in the Ford chicanes without contact and going into the garage. That car is still being repaired and has fallen from second to off the lead lap, but still sits in fourth. Audi #8 and Porsche #17 are a few minutes behind Porsche #19, but remain on the lead lap.
LMP2: No real change here, and no change is expected for quite a while. The #46 KCMG Oreca coupe remains a lap ahead of the #26 G-Drive branded Ligier, which remains a lap ahead of the rest of the LMP2 field. In third, two laps down, is the #48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca roadster.
GTE-Pro: Not much change here, either. AF Corse #51 is still a minute or so ahead of Corvette #64, though that gap has grown by a few seconds. Porsche #91 is a lap back of the leaders.
GTE-Am: Aston Martin #98 has now put three minutes of lead on the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari, which has a solid lap and a half of the #77 Dempsey Racing Porsche in third.
On the lead lap: 19, 9, 17 (LMP1), 47 (LMP2), 51, 64 (GTE-Pro), 98, 72 (GTE-Am)
Retirements: 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
12:59 AM, P: The #13 Rebellion has a major suspension failure on the right-front and will go back into the garage once it completes the limp home.
12:57 AM, P: The #7 goes into the garage, where it will be repaired, get a new set of tires, and get a cleaning.
12:55 AM, P: Audi #7 seems to have just molted a fairly large portion of rear bodywork in the Ford chicane. He’ll make an unscheduled early stop.
12:40 AM, P: The damage to the #12 from that shunt doesn’t look too bad. Should be a quick repair.
12:28 AM, P: Good news, the #12 Rebellion’s back out!
Bad news, the #12 Rebellion’s stuffed in the barriers at Indianapolis!
12:22 AM, P: To be specific, that gap is 18 seconds from Audi #7 to Porsche #19. In the two laps between stops last time, the gap was just five seconds, and a few hours ago, the Porsche was actually 15 seconds ahead. The 7 isn’t at full attack yet, but at this rate, it doesn’t need to be to catch the 19 in due time.
12:16 AM, P: “My Name Is” Earl Bamber hands the #19 Porsche back over to Nico Hulkenberg, who’s been able to draw attention to his talents today as the woeful Force India cars haven’t allowed him to in years. The would-be 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix winner resumes well behind the #7 Audi, showing that the R18 has broken another ten seconds into the lead 919 Hybrid’s lead.
12:00 AM, P: Hour 15 Update
LMP1: As with the past few hours, Porsche #19 continues to hold a minute-or-so lead on Audi #7, which has a minute over Audi #9, which holds a minute on Porsche #19. This is the point in the race where the leaders hold again, waiting to know when and to what extent to dial up the aggression later in the race. We’ve become used to the Audis being at full aggression all race, but with the cars getting faster and more experimental every year, that speed becomes more and more punishing on these cars, so we’re looking at more of a traditional endurance race for the overall lead than what we’ve seen lately.
LMP2: The big news of the hour is the retirement of the #46 Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05, earlier a dominant force in the class. Now, the KCMG Ligier has a lap on the #26 G-Drive car for the lead in class, while that car in turn has a full lap on the #48 Murphy Protoypes Gibson/Zytek and #38 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03.
GTE-Pro: After a long stop to repair brake calipers for Corvette #64 and continuing major repairs for the #99 Aston Martin that took the #46 Oreca out of the race, AF Corse’s #51 Ferrari has a moderate lead on the #64 Corvette and #91 Porsche.
GTE-Am: It should come as no surprise at this point that Pedro Lamy is good enough to keep the #98 Aston Martin near the front no matter what his co-drivers do, and he’s done exactly that as he gets that car back into the lead. The #72 SMP racing Ferrari that has swapped with the #98 for the lead all race runs second, while Patrick Long has the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche in third.
On the lead lap: 19, 7, 9, 17 (LMP1), 47 (LMP2), 51, 64 (GTE-Pro), 98, 72 (GTE-Am)
Retirements: 46, 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
11:58 PM, P: Fox’s choices of where to put their coverage are outright terrible as they actively put the race as a lower priority than NASCAR studio shows, but the coverage itself is better than it has ever been. The world feed cameras and scoring chyron aren’t theirs, but the things they do bring (The booth and pit reporters) are all doing a spectacular job. Jamie Howe and Tommy Kendall in particular.
Plus, they all are dropping subtle hints about how much they hate Fox’s choices of where to put the race, and there’s nothing more fun than bitter on-air talent. Good times, if you can find it.
11:50 PM, P: The #46 Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05, briefly the LMP2 class leader and for all of the race until their incident with the #99 Aston Martin running in the top two in that class, is unfortunately an official retirement after fruitless repair efforts. Seven LMP2 cars remain within a reasonable distance of the class lead, although that goes all the way down to four laps down. The leading #47 KCMG Oreca 05 and second placed #26 G-Drive branded OAK Ligier each run on their own laps.
11:45 PM, P: Corvette #64, one stop behind the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and sure to relinquish the position soon, finds itself back in the GTE-Pro lead for the first time since a brake caliper change that went on about a minute too long.
11:42 PM, P: The slowly rising sun confirms cloud cover at the Circuit de la Sarthe and over the villages of Mulsanne and Le Mans, and they are certainly thicker, larger and grayer than the ones we saw last night. They aren’t necessarily carrying rain, but it’s something worth keeping an eye on.
11:38 PM, P: The #19 Porsche now sits immediately behind the #7 Audi on track after stopping a few laps before it. That car was well over a full pit stop delta ahead earlier, so the Audi is catching again, if ever so slightly.
11:30 PM, P: Halfway through our fifteenth hour of racing, the first glimpses of sunlight appear on the horizon. From day into night and back into day.
11:20 PM, P: Repairs begin on the Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05, all of which are taking place in the engine compartment. The car has fallen all the way to eighth in class.
11:15 PM, P: Rebellions #12, which is well off the pace at this point, and #13, which was still within a few laps of the overall leaders just an hour ago, are still in the garage and still undergoing repairs.
11:13 PM, P: Repairs continue on Aston Martin #99, which coupled with Corvette Racing’s rotor change promotes AF Corse Ferrari #51 to the GTE-Pro lead ahead of that #64 Chevrolet. Porsche Team Manthey #91 takes the #99’s place on the GTE-Pro podium.
11:09 PM, P: The Thiriet by TDS Oreca’s limp home mission after their run-in with Aston Martin #99 ends and it comes back on the hook. Could mean the end for one of the two dominant new French coupes entered in what has become a major incident for both parties involved.
11:06 PM, P: The #46 Thiriet by TDS Oreca has still yet to make it back to the pits and is hemorrhaging positions in LMP2.
11:00 PM, P: Hour 14 Update
LMP1: In a fascinating exercise in international relations, a man named “Earl” continues to lead the 24 Hours of Le Mans, behind the wheel of the #19 Porsche. Audi #7, Audi #9 and Porsche #17 follow, all within a few minutes of the leader.
LMP2: KCMG holds a dominant one lap lead over the competition, but after spending a few minutes in a gravel trap, the Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05 that had kept it honest falls from second to fifth, allowing G-Drive Ligier #26, Murphy Protoypes Oreca 03 #48 and Jota Gibson/Zytek #38 to advance into second, third and fourth, respectively.
GTE-Pro: Corvette Racing #64 continues to hold down the lead even with a very slow brake caliper change, thanks in no small part to significant damage on the #99 Aston Martin running in second caused by an incident in the first Ford chicane with the aforementioned #46 Thiriet by TDS Oreca. AF Corse Ferrari #51 was just a few minutes behind the Aston Martin and will slot into second in class.
GTE-Am: SMP Racing Ferrari #72 holds down a moderate lead over the #98 Aston Martin, but sits a full lap ahead of the #62 Scuderia Corse Ferrari and two over the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche and #53 Riley SRT Viper trailing it.
Retirements: 43, 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
10:58 PM, P: Corvette Racing joins Aston Martin’s #99 in doing their brake caliper change now, but has a delay on the pit lane. This would be an issue, normally, but the second-placed Aston Martin just rolled into the pits without a left-front fender, a hood or a functioning radiator. If ever there was a time for a bad rotor change this is it.
10:52 PM, P: The Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05, running well in second all race but a full lap behind the KCMG Oreca, has been spun into the first Forza chicane by a particularly optimistic attempt at braking by Aston Martin #99. The car is beached and has two full minutes to be recovered before it falls to third in class.
10:51 PM, P: When last I was at the helm of this blog, Porsches #17 and #19 were constantly exchanging the lead with Audis #7 and #9, with nothing to give between them, while the KCMG Oreca had a dominant grasp on the LMP2 lead. This has not changed in eight hours.
10:43 PM, D: Time for a Nationwide Team AAI Performance update: The #68 is 38th and the #67 is 40th. DRAMAS! The G-Drive Ligier has gone off at Indianapolis and is deemed to have an unsafe return by spraying gravel on track.
10:35 PM, D: The Audis are beginning to have pace over the Porsches, again. Richard Lietz gets in the #91 GTE-Pro entry.
10:27 PM, D: KCMG has a lap on everyone in the LMP2 class. It has been surprisingly uncompetitive with the #47 dominating the rest of the field.
10:16 PM, D: Jamie Howe is doing commentary on Fox Sports and isn’t half bad. SHOCKER: The #22 Nissan is back in the pits. The #61 Ferrari caught fire briefly in pit lane.
10:07 PM, D: Milner has closed the gap to 2 seconds behind Stanaway.
10:00 PM, D: HOUR 13 UPDATE
LMP1: The Essendon Bambers have the lead for Porsche. Luckily, he’s not under investigation by ASADA. Anyway, Bonanomi and Treluyer are on the same lap behind the 919.
LMP2: something something top three the same something something KCMG, Thiriet by TDS, G-Drive.
GTE-Pro: Richie Stanaway has the lead back for Aston Martin with Tommy Milner in second fo Corvette. Toni Vilander is 3rd in class with AF Corse, holding off the #91 Porsche being steered by Jorg Bergmeister.
GTE-Am: As I mentioned, the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari is in third, ahead of the Proton Dempsey 911. Aston Martin is in a good position in both classes, running secon with the #98 of Mathias Lauda. The SMP Racing Ferrari is leading with Victor Shaytar (pretty good name if you ask me).
Retirements: 21, 36, 97, 50, 41, 88, 92
9:43 PM, D: Yes, time for shots of mechanics sleeping.
9:37 PM, D: Townsend Bell is third in class now, driving the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.
9:34 PM, B: The SMP car’s rear lights are being Kinja’d, and so am I.
9:17 PM, B: The overall leader #19 Porsche makes a stop for tires and driver change. Nick “Dandy” Tandy gets in the car.
9:05 PM, B: Just after the halfway point, the #66 Ferrari has caught fire in the pits, as is their way, filling the paddock with smoke and fire suppressant.
9:00 PM, N: HALFWAY UPDATE
LMP1: Its still Porsche, Audi, Audi. #19 from #9 from #7, all within about a minute of each other.
LMP2: The 47 KCMG took an extended pit stop to change a number panel, but it retains a minute lead over both 46 Thiriet by TDS and 26 G-Drive.
GTE- Pro: After their heated battle earlier in the hour, Tommy Milner has pitted the 64 Corvette and given the lead back to Fernando Rees’s 99 Aston. Rees leads Milner by 1:20, and Milner leads Toni Vilander’s AF Corse by a further 1:20.
GTE-Am: GTE-Am remains mostly unchanged from last hour, with the 98 Aston leading the 72 SMP 458 and the 77 Dempsey 911.
Retirements: #92, #88, #41, #50, #21, #36, #97
And now I’m going to take a break (and eat, and maybe nap) and hand you over to the capable hands of Andrew “Baby Bakkster Ribs” Bakke.
8:48 PM, N: The 17 Porsche pits for full service. Timo “Irishman Tim O’Bernhard” Bernhard steps out and Brendan “I’m from New Zealand, not Australia” Hartley takes over in 4th place.
8:46 PM, N: The #47 KCMG has come in from the LMP2 lead, and it’s for something more than just a full service. Mechanics have hooked the car up to the data system and mechanics are looking all over with their flashlights. UPDATE: It was for it’s lighted number panel.
8:42 PM, N: The #7 of Andre Lotterer pits from second place for fuel and drinks.
8:38 PM, N: The 43 Sard-Morand Morgan has parked at the exit of Arnage with his lights off. Pierre Ragues’s LMP2 was smoking.
8:30 PM, N: Oliver Gavin now pits from the lead of GTE-Pro, allowing Fernando Rees to regain the lead. Gavin gets out of the drivers’ seat for Tommy “Not Related to Your Current Liveblogger” Milner.
8:27 PM, N: Fernando Rees’s 99 Aston straightlines the first chicane, allowing Oliver Gavin to go through to the GTE-Pro in his 64 Corvette.
8:22 PM, N: Marco Bonanomi has brought the #9 Audi in for fuel and drinks. He cedes second to teammate Andre Lotterer in the #7.
8:21 PM, N: Oliver Gavin’s 64 Corvette has caught up with Fernando Rees’s 99 Aston for the lead of GTE-Pro. They’re almost nose to tail across the start-finish line.
8:19 PM, N: The 29 Pegasus Morgan Nissan has gone off into a wall and the gravel at the end of the Porsche Curves.
8:09 PM, N: Just after Marc Lieb’s pitstop, the team manager of the #18 Porsche has been called to the stewards’ office. Usually it means someone’s been naughty.
8:04 PM, N: The #40 Krohn is in the pits for a new rear wing assembly because Krohn was missing his legality panel.
8:01 PM, N: While I was typing up the update, the 7 Audi has come in for fuel and drinks. Lotterer is now in third, 10 seconds back of his teammate Marco Bonanomi in the #9.
8:00 PM, N: HOUR 11 UPDATE:
LMP1: Apparently Nick Tandy’s #19 Porsche had enough of a lead on the last pit stop to retain the lead over the #7 Audi of Andre Lotterer by 18 seconds. Marco Bonanomi is a further minute behind in the #9.
LMP2: The order remains unchanged, with the 47 KCMG leading the 46 Thiriet by TDS and 26 G-Drive.
GTE-Pro: Continues to be led by the 99 Aston, now driven by Fernando Rees (pro tip: if you tag something on Instagram or Twitter with #LM24, Fernando will probably favorite it.) The sole remaining factory Porsche (#91) leads the sole remaining Corvette (#64).
GTE-Am: It’s a good evening for Aston at the moment, as they lead GTE-Am as well, with Paul Dalla Lana’s #98, still ahead of the 72 SMP 458. Marco Seefried in the #77 Dempsey-Proton 911 is now in third place ahead of the fedora’d Townsend Bell.
Retirements: #92, #88, #41, #50, #21, #36, #97
7:46 PM, N: The 19 Porsche of Nick Tandy pits for fuel and drinks. He comes out just behind Andre Lotterer’s #7 Audi.
7:36 PM, N: The 9 Audi of Marco “Polo” Bonanomi has pitted from second for fuel and drinks.
7:32 PM, N: The 31 ESM of Jon “Not CCR” Fogarty has had a collision and is slowly crawling into the pits without any lights on. Fogarty caught too much curb in the Porsche curves and got bounced into the inside wall.
7:22 PM, N: The 18 Porsche has made it back to the pits, and receives a full service and new nose. Marc “Not Webber” Lieb takes over for Jani. Also, if you’re playing a drinking game, the RLM pit reporter just called it a front nose.
7:17 PM, N: Neel “Before Me” Jani has beached his #18 Porsche at Mulsanne in an almost identical fashion to Romain Dumas did a few hours ago. It’ll be a slow zone for the snatch tractor to extricate the 919.
7:12 PM, N: The number 1 Toyota pits for full service. Sebastien Buemi gives the wheel to Anthony Davidson.
7:10 PM, N: The third placed AF Corse of Rui Aguas has had a puncture and is limping into the pits. Meanwhile the 2nd placed Audi of Andre Lotterer pits for fuel and drinks.
7:03 PM, N: Tsuigo Matsuda’s Nissan has officially retired after a left front suspension failure that stranded the heritage-liveried #21 at Arnage.
7:00 PM, N: HOUR 10 UPDATE:
LMP1: Nick Tandy’s Porsche leads the Audi of Andre Lotterer, but Tandy is due in for a fuel stop any minute now, so he’ll hand the lead to the Audi. Marco Bonanomi’s Audi is in 3rd, 26 seconds behind his teammate.
LMP2: The 47 KCMG Oreca Nissan leads LMP2 by a lap from Thiriet by TDS running the same chassis and engine. Sam “Flip Them the” Bird’s G-Drive Ligier Nissan is in third, almost a lap down on the Thiriet.
GTE-Pro: Richie Stanaway leads in his Aston from Micahel Christensen’s 911 by about a minute. Oliver Gavin, in the sole remaining Corvette, is just behind Christensen.
GTE-Am: Paul Dalla Lana’s Aston leads a pair of 458’s. Second is occupied by Andrea Bertolini’s SMP, ahead of Francois Perrodo’s AF Corse entry.
Retirements: #92, #88, #41, #50
6:52 PM, N: The marshalls at Arnage didn’t want to let Matsuda attempt to continue, but he’s in a 700 kg controlled explosion, so they can’t stop him. Less than 200 meters down the road, however, the car grinds to a halt again.
6:48 PM, N: Rene Rast pits the number 9 Audi from the lead for full service. He turns the car over to Marco “Pesky Pixie Pesternome” Bonanomi. Nick Tandy takes over the lead in the #19 Porsche.
6:46 PM, N: The 8 Audi pits from 6th place. Oliver Jarvis yields to Loic “Fred” Duval. Meanwhile Tsuigo Matsuda’s wounded Nissan is now off track to the right of Arnage.
6:44 PM, N: The 21 Nissan of Tsuigo Matsuda has a right front suspension issue and is currently limping home from Mulsanne.
6:41 PM, N: The 31 <del>Patron</del> Rolling Stones ESM pits for full service with Jon “Not the Musician” Fogarty taking over for Johannes van “Under” Overbeek.
6:37 PM, N: The 23 Nissan is back on track after sorting out an issue with the right rear.
6:35 PM, N: Oliver “Twist” Gavin pits from the GTE-Pro lead in his Corvette for fuel. He exits behind the 99 Aston of Richie Stanaway.
6:32 PM, N: The 27 SMP BR01 Nissan being driven by Mauizio Mediani is slow going into Mulsanne. The car is currently in 10th in class on debut. It is now in the garage after releasing a big ol’ puff of smoke in the Porsche Curves.
6:27 PM, N: Eric Maris in the 35 Oak Ligier Nissan spins at the second chicane on his out lap, but he continues on with no other issues.
6:24 PM, N: The 7 Audi pits from the lead for full service. Marcel “The Third -er” Fassler hands over to Andre “The First -er” Lotterer. Rene Rast in the #9 Audi takes over the lead.
6:21 PM, N: There are unconfirmed reports that the 22 Nissan hit an animal on track. The ACO may need to employ the ’roo snipers from Bathurst. Harry Tincknell reports to Radio Le Mans that he suddenly hit something and lost his bonnet.
6:19 PM, N: The 12 Rebellion slowed in the Porsche Curves and has limped it’s way into the pits. Mathias Beche just went out with new blanks out to prevent underheating. It released a big plume of smoke in one of the lefthanders in the Porsche Curves.
6:13 PM, N: Nico “Irishman Nick O’Hulkenberg” Hulkenberg pits from the lead for a full service. O’Hulkenberg is replaced by Nick “Dandy” Tandy.
6:10 PM, N: More troubles for Nissan, as the 23 has stopped at Arnage. It’s lights were off, but they’ve now turned back on. It’s brakes are smoking and marshalls are ready with fire extinguishers. It locked up or something else just gave up on the entry to Arnage.
6:06 PM, N: The 22 Nissan has had something happen at Mulsanne. It’s lights went dark and now it’s in the pits without its hood (or bonnet, or engine cover, whatever you call it). The Nissan may have left it’s bits on the run up to Indianapolis.
6:00 PM, N: HOUR 9 UPDATE:
LMP1: After Mark Webber took a 1 minute penalty from the lead, Nico Hulkenberg in the #19 Porsche leads the numbers 9 and 7 Audis of Rene Rast and Marcel Fassler, respectively. Six seconds separate the 19 and 9, and a further 17 separate the Audi teammates.
LMP2: Despite its penalty, the 47 KCMG Oreca Nissan driven by Richard Bradley leads from Tristan Gommendy’s 46 Thiriet Oreca Nissan by more than a minute. Third place Roman Rusinov is a lap down in his G-Drive Ligier Nissan.
GTE-Pro: Richie Stanaway in the 99 Aston Martin leads Oliver Gavin’s Corvette by about 45 seconds. A further lap down is Richard Lietz’s 91 Porsche 911.
GTE-Am: Pedro Lamy in the 98 Aston leads Francois Perrodo’s AF Corse 458 by a lap. Andrea Bertolini in the SMP 458 is just behind Perrodo.
Retirements: #92, #88, #41, #50
5:53 PM, N: The 22 Nissan is back in the garage with an ACO sensor issue. It’s probably the fuel flow meter.
5:45 PM, N: Mark Webber is back in the pits, this time for full service. Timo Bernhard will take over for Webber. The penalty for Webber may have actually been for Brendan Hartley, who was under investigation earlier.
5:39 PM, N: As Mark Webber comes in to serve his penalty, Marcel Fassler pits for fuel and drinks. Fassler gets out ahead of the Porsche, as Webber has to wait a full minute.
5:38 PM, N: The lone remaining Corvette pits from the lead of GTE-Pro for a full service, with Jordan Taylor handing over to Oliver Gavin. Gavin appears to retain his lead over Rickie Stanaway in the 99 Aston.
5:35 PM, N: The leading P2, number 47 KCMG Oreca Nissan, has received a drive through penalty for a pit stop infringement.
5:34 PM, N: The leading 17 Porsche of Mark Webber has received a stop + 1 minute penalty for passing under yellow, presumably in the slow zone that just expired at Mulsanne. Marcel Fassler in the number 7 Audi will assume the lead.
5:32 PM, N: They’ve finally completed the barrier repair down at Mulsanne corner, so it’s pedal to the metal all the way ’round now.
5:29 PM, N: Nico Hulkenberg pits his number 17 919 from the lead for fuel only, starting his fourth stint, promoting Mark Webber to the lead, with Marcel Fassler’s number 7 R18 right on Webber’s gearbox.
5:24 PM, N: The number 4 Collin LM, which had been in the garage battle some gremlins is now back out, but the 40 of Tracy Krohn has fired up, but is still in its garage.
5:19 PM, N: Now Rast pits from the lead for fuel only, promoting Nico “The Incredible” Hulkenberg to the lead.
5:17 PM, N: Nico Hulkenberg in the 19 Porsche goes by Mark Webber in the 17 for second, as the 6th place 8 Audi pits.
5:07 PM, N: We go back green with the first 4 all nose to tail. There’s a slow zone at Mulsanne corner, apparently still for guardrail repair. Meanwhile, the 35 Oak Ligier Nissan spins at the Ford Chicane
5:03 PM, N: Radio Le Mans is reporting that the 50 Larbre Competition GTE-Am Corvette has retired with gearbox issues.
5:00 PM, D: SAFETY CAR 3/HOUR 8 UPDATE
LMP1: With the current pit cycle, Rene Rast has the lead for the four rings in the #9. It’s an ex and current Formula One driver show in second and third; Webber just ahead of Hulkenberg in the #17 and #19 Porsches. Marcel Fassler is fourth and Neel Jani is a lap down in fifth after his shunt at Mulsanne.Oh yeah, Nissan is a thing, too. The #21 is getting a lot of work done. The Toyotas are 7th and 8th, 2 in front of 1. Rebellion is here for... something I dunno.
LMP2: The top two remain the same as they have been recently but the G-Drive Ligier has moved to third, mostly thanks to the Bird. After a good effort to get the car going again, the Greaves entry had to retire.
GTE-Pro: The Aston Martin/Corvette battle rages on. Jordan Taylor currently leads Rob Bellin the #97 and Alex Macdowall in the #99. The remaining factory GT Porsche is running fourth, Jorg Bergmeister piloting.
GTE-Am: The top three is exactly the same as it was at the end of hour seven. The Dempsey Porsche is knocking on the door in fourth. Jeff Segal is fifth in the Ferrari also driven by Townsend Bell and his hat.
Retirements: #92, #88, #41
The safety car has bunched the field up (that’s what they do, Captain Obvious) so there could be some hot battles on the way. With everyone talking about rain, it’s fitting that I had over the live blog to our favorite meteorologist, Jeff “Nobody1300.”
4:46 PM, D: Paul Loup Chaptin was the driver of the Signatech Alpine that went off. He appears fine and is being craned off with his car.
4:41 PM, D: More routine stops for the leaders. The #7 and #17 get in and out successfully. SAFETY CAR! #36 Apline has a big off at Mulsanne Corner.
4:32 PM, D: Around this time last year, the TV crew would’ve gone home for the night but this year we’ll get the world feed the whole race. We have our third retirement, now. Greaves has finally given up the ghost and the #41 becomes the third car out of the race.
4:19 PM, D: Rast comes in for fuel and rejoins 4th. Sam Bird has driven the G-Drive Ligier back to third in LMP2. Now Hulkenberg trundles the #19 919 in for service.
4:11 PM, D: In comes Jarvis in the #8 for fuel. Jani got in the #18 under the last stop. The Krohn car has stopped on track. This is where you take a drink if you’re playing one of those games. Barbosa is back going.
4:07 PM, D: Slightly major dramas as the #18 Porsche goes blazing off track at Mulsanne corner and bouncing off the tyre barrier. Doesn’t look like the damage is that bad and the Porsche crew get the car back out after a nose change.
4:00 PM, D: HOUR 7 UPDATE
LMP1: The lead was exchanged a few times over the course of the hour, with Treluyer passing Webber on track at one point. Webber is back in front, though, by 16 seconds over Marcel Fassler. Rene Rast is third, about half a minute behind in the #9 Audi.
LMP2: Surprise... KCMG still in front. Matthew Howson has nearly a two minute gap on Pierre Thiriet in second. The #36 Signatech Nissan is in third at the moment as Gary Hirsch attempts to replace the battery on the Greaves machine.
GTE-Pro: Jordan Taylor is in first for Corvette, ahead of the #99 and #97 Aston Martins. This battle has cooled off a bit, but these top three are still seperated by just 16 seconds.
GTE-Am: Aston Martin leads with Pedro Lamy in the #98 as night begins to fall. Then it’s two Ferraris: AF Corse and SMP Racing with Emmanuel Collard and Andrea Bertolini in the cars, respectively.
Retirements: #92, #88.
3:52 PM, D: The #7 comes in for a stop but can’t correct their radio problems. Leena Gade says they only have radio on the front straight.
3:40 PM, D: Mark Webber leads. 33 seconds seperate the top three cars. Jordan Taylor has cycled back to the lead in GTE-Pro.
3:36 PM, D: The Signatech Nissan is third in LMP2 is third in class with Vincent Capillaire piloting and Sam Bird fourth.
3:33 PM, D: Filipe Albuquerue (something something New Mexico joke) brings the #9 Audi in from the lead. Rene Rast gets in as the sun sets.
3:25 PM, D: Townsend Bell is tipping his fedora in GTE-Am and is up to fourth. Rob Bell takes over the #97 from Darren Turner. The Greaves car still hasn’t officially been retired. Jarvis is in for Lucas Di Grassi.
3:19 PM, D: Albuquerque leads Webber by 40 seconds after the stops. Rees pits the #99 from the GTE-Pro lead and gives the controls to Alex Macdowall. Mike Howson just put the third place Murphy Prototypes entrant a lap down in LMP2.
3:10 PM, D: Now it’s the #17’s turn to come in. Fuel only and back away.
3:07 PM, D: Shortly after taking first, the #7 comes in for fuel, tyres, and a driver change. Marcel Fassler is now in the car for his first run of the race.
3:03 PM, D: Trelyuer blasts past Webber for the lead. The #17 is somewhat off the pace.
3:00 PM, D: HOUR 6 UPDATE
LMP1: Webber is the leader for Porsche. Treluyer and Albuquerque trail behind in the Audis.
Not much to choose from in the top five. 10 seconds between the top three.
LMP2: Greaves’ problems have elevated the Murphy Prototypes car into third in class as KCMG maintains the lead over Thiriet in second. Hirsch is still working to get his car restarted.
GTE-Pro: This time around, Rees leads for Aston Martin but American favorite, Jordan Taylor is in second just 23 seconds behind and one second ahead of Darren Turner in the other Vantage V8.
GTE-Am: The top three in the class is the same as the last hour: Lauda in the #98 Aston, then the #72 SPM Ferrari and the #53 Viper in third.
Rain looks like it will miss the track.
Retirements: #92, #88.
2:50 PM, D: Taylor has caught Turner for second in GTE-Pro.
2:46 PM, D: Albuquerque comes in for fuel and fuel alone after a 13 lap stint.
2:36 PM, D: Just 19 seconds seperate the top three in GTE-Pro, still. Albuquerque leads Webber. Also, the TV director showed a poster of a stationary Audi. Trickster.
2:31 PM, D: UH OH. The #17 is being investigated for overtaking in the slow zone. If they’re assessed a penalty, Mark Webber will probably be miffed.
2:28 PM, D: From a Kiwi to an Aussie, Webber now pilots the #17 Porsche which has run up front for most of the race. The SMP Ferrari has the lead in GTE-Am again but has yet to make its fifth stop.
2:24 PM, D: Slow zone in the Porsche Curves. Audi takes advantage by pitting the #7.
2:20 PM, D: The #1 almost took out the Labre Corvette’s fuel man coming out of the pits. At the front, Treluyer has closed the gap to under 30 seconds in his pursuit of the #17 919.
2:16 PM, D: Earl Bamber comes in for fuel only. The #1 Toyota has finally been sorted. The #18’s off sequence stop earlier was for a punctured tyre.
2:09 PM, D: Oh no, what a disaster. The second place running in LMP2, the Greaves Gibson driven by Gary Hirsch has stopped just past the Dunlop bridge. Rain could be coming soon and it won’t be long before it’s dark at Circuit de la Sarthe.
2:05 PM, D: The car run by the internationally loved Colin Kolles is in the garage, on fire. Everyone looks okay. The #1 Toyota clipped a Ferrari (hashtag memed) and is in for repairs.
2:00 PM, D: HOUR 5 UPDATE:
LMP1: Despite setting the lap record twice, Filipe Albuquerque still finds himself behind
Brendan Hartley in the #17 Porsche. Benoit Treluyer is third in the #7 Audi and the other two
Porsches follow behind on the lead lap. The top six are all in contention.
LMP2: This class has remained quiet over the last hour. #47 KCMG still leads followed by the
Thiriet by TDS Ligier and the #41 Greaves Motorsport LMP2 racer, which had a close call at
Indianapolis minutes ago sits in third.
GTE-Pro: What has typically been the most entertaining class is the center of a thrilling
battle yet again. Milner has had to hold off the Aston Martin team but the #64 is still
in front. The #64 leads Rees in the #99 and Turner in the #96.
GTE-Am: Mathias Lauda took first back just minutes ago. The SMP Racing 458 lies second, driven by
Aleksey Basov and Ben Keating in the Viper is third.
Retirements: #92, #88.
1:57 PM, D: An unscheduled stop for the #18 Porsche driven by Romain Dumas. Takes fuel and tyres. Lieb was on track for just six laps.
1:50 PM, D: Di Grassi has moved past Sarrazin for seventh in the car’s recovery run. The #98 Aston driven by Mathias Lauda takes back the lead of GTE-Am.
1:41 PM, D: The #17 completes its 13 lap stint. Albuquerque is seven seconds back.
1:38 PM, D: The #7 Audi comes in for fuel service and is back out, drama free. Hartley should be bringing in the leading Porsche soon. A fuel only stop for Lieb in the #18, as well.
1:33 PM, D: The Proton Porsche which was on fire earlier joins the #92 Team Manthey 911 RSR as the second retirement.
1:29 PM, D: The #97 and #99 Astons take their fourth stops. Both Turner and Rees stay in for another stint.
1:21 PM, D: Rees takes Aston to the lead but only for a brief moment. Milner criss crosses him at Mulsanne corner and takes point again.
1:16 PM, D: The race for the overall lead cools off for a moment as the #9 comes in for a standard fuel stop. The GTE-Pro fight is still on as Fernando Rees, in the #99 Aston Martin, runs a second behind Tommy Milner’s Corvette.
1:14 PM, D: Scratch that... the pilot of the #9 just set another new benchmark with a 3:17.647. He’s right on Hartley’s tail.
1:12 PM, D: Albuquerque sets a new lap record with a 3:18.477 and has the gap to the lead to just under two seconds.
1:07 PM, D: Lucas “Drake” Di Grassi unlaps himself in the #8 Audi. The top eight are working lap 60. Brendan Hartley has 4 seconds on Albuquerque’s #9 Audi, but the gap is closing, fast.
1:02 PM, D: Guess what, it’s me. The battle for the lead in GTE-Pro continues. Milner locks up in the #64 and causes Turner to spin in the Aston Martin to avoid contact. Meanwhile, the #19 Porsche has a close call in the Porsche Curves with the GTE-Am leading #72 Ferrari.
1:00 PM, P: Hour 4 Update
LMP1: After a lengthy safety car for repairs and a lucky safety car split for the #17 Porsche, that car leads by over a minute from Audi #7, Audi #9, Porsche #18 and Porsche #19. Audi #8 is just a lap down after their wreck about an hour ago, only a few minutes behind the two Toyotas.
LMP2: KCMG’s #47 Oreca 05 continues to lead, but the #34 OAK Ligier has passed the other Oreca, Thiriet by TDS #46, for second. The open top #41 Greaves Gibson Zytek and #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca 03 run fourth and fifth.
GTE-Pro: With the top four under a proverbial blanket, Corvette #64 currently leads Aston Martin #97, AF Corse Ferrari #71 and Aston Martin #99. AF Corse Ferrari #51 sits a few minutes back.
GTE-Am: SMP Racing’s #72 Ferrari has retaken the class lead, ahead of the #98 Aston Martin and #53 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper.
Now, to Danny “DannyCatSteve” CatSteve for the next few hours...
12:57 PM, P: With stops complete, the #17 still leads by a full minute over the rest of the fully healthy Audis and Porsches, three minutes over the Toyotas and just over a lap over the #8 Audi. Corvette #64 falls under intense pressure for the GTE-Pro lead from Aston Martin #98.
12:52 PM, P: Overall leaders begin to cycle through in another set of stops, with the #18 and #7 Audis being the first from their camps to pit, while the #17 Porsche and #9 Audi go a few laps longer.
12:48 PM, P: In a little bit of traffic, the GTE-Pro lead changes hands twice as Davide Rigon in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari passes the #97 Aston Martin, only to get held up and fall to third as the #64 Corvette passes both of them to take the spot.
12:42 PM, P: Back to green. Two wide among LMP1 leaders into the second chicane. Benoit Treluyer, in the aggressive “Hare” #7 Audi, passes the #18 for second.
12:41 PM, P: Safety car in this lap. It took just 4 minutes to repair the #8 Audi from that huge hit, but 42 minutes to repair the barriers. Patrick Dempsey leads the safety car with the five P1 leaders in it.
12:26 PM, P: Proton Porsche #88 stops on track under safety car, spewing black smoke and a little bit of flame. Not a towering inferno like the #92, but that’s the second engine fire for a 991-generation 911 GT3 RSR in just three and a half hours of racing.
12:24 PM, P: #95 returns to the track with a repaired power steering unit. Loses four laps total, between the time slow on track and the time in the garage, relative to the GTE-Pro leaders.
12:15 PM, P: #95 Aston Martin’s issue appears to be under the hood.
12:00 PM, P: Hour 3 update/Safety car 2 update:
LMP1: After an unexpected short fourth stint for the #7 Audi and a minor wreck for the #8 Audi, Porsche #17 is back into the LMP1 and overall leads. Behind it will be Porsches #18 and #19, then Audis #7 and #9. Toyotas numbered 1 and 2 are another safety car further back, 2/3rds of a lap down. Audi #8 sits a lap down after repairs, but remains a lap ahead of the first privateer car, the #12 Rebellion R-One.
LMP2: KCMG continues to lead in their surprisingly dominant Oreca 05, still ahead of Thiriet by TDS Racing. Open cockpit cars run third (Signatech Alpine Oreca #36), fourth (#48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca) and sixth (#41 Greaves Gibson/Zytek), with OAK Ligier #34 in fifth.
GTE-Pro: Aston Martin Racing is continuing to dominate this class through the first three hours with cars #99 and #97, but an issue for the #95 has seen it go from the lead to two full laps down. AF Corse Ferrari #51 was running third, but after suffering a flat tire in the Audi #8 incident, cedes that position to AF Corse #71.
GTE-Am: The Riley Motorsports Viper #53 still leads, well ahead of the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari and #88 Proton Porsche.
11:59 AM, P: A safety car is called for barrier repairs from the #8’s issue. In other aftermath from the incident, #51 (The Ferrari that the Audi spun off the nose of) took a puncture and had to limp back to the pits for a tire change, but seems to have sustained no other damage. The #9 Audi, meanwhile, benefited from the debris field to pass the #18 Porsche in the mess for second overall.
11:57 AM, P: Audi #8 rejoins just five minutes later. Somehow, both it and the #7 are still in contention after going off at high speed at roughly the same part of track one lap apart.
11:55 AM, P: Somehow, Treluyer seems to have done more damage to his car than to the track.
11:52 AM, P: A big trip into the wall for #8 Audi, being driven by Loic Duval, who gets caught up in a bit of a traffic jam as a few GTE-Am cars get confused entering a slow zone. The nose is entirely gone, but the R18 proves as resilient as ever as he drives back to the pits flat out without it. Incredibly, that giant-looking wreck is likely not even going to put that #8 a lap down.
11:50 AM, P: A huge off for the #7 Audi of Benoit Treluyer in the flat out right-hander before Indianapolis, spending a few seconds in the dirt and then rejoining, somehow, without contact.
11:46 AM, P: The co-star of near-universally panned 2011 release Flypaper, alongside Ashley Judd, has taken the wheel of the #77 Porsche.
11:43 AM, P: Marco Bonanomi, halfway through his fourth stint on a set of tires, reports a difficult #9 Audi. Between this and the #7 abandoning their quadruple stint a third of the way into their fourth stint, it certainly looks like the Audis aren’t nearly as soft on tires as they have notoriously been over the past decade.
11:40 AM, P: With all eight second-year factory cars healthy and a full hour removed from the last safety car, we now have a good idea of where they all are on pace. The Porsches and Audis seem fairly close, interspersed throughout the top 6 and all floating around the 3:20s regularly, while the Toyotas are clearly not fast enough to be traditionally competitive. Both floating in the 3:24s in the best of times, those cars sit about 90 seconds behind the leader, around a minute behind the tail end of the pack of leaders. As many expected from their first session on track, the Nissans are completely lost on pace, with a 3:39 the best lap time any of those three cars have to fall back on.
11:38 AM, P: Aston Martin #95 seems to have some sort of issue on track, and the team #99 car takes the class lead in GTE-Pro.
11:34 AM, P: Andre Lotterer makes an unexpected early stop, just three laps into this stint. He’ll stop for tires and a driver change. Benoit Treluyer gets in that car after Lotterer’s magnificent first stint in #7, now behind all of the other Audis and Porsches in 6th. Appears Audi was optimistic when they thought they could run four stints on that set of tires and needed to get off of them as quickly as possible.
11:33 AM, P: Brendon Hartley gets in the #17 Porsche, and with that driver and tire change, Andre Lotterer extends his lead in the #7 Audi to a full 27 seconds. Porsche #18, now with longtime GT driver Marc Lieb behind the wheel, sits another 40 seconds behind, now just ahead of the other two Audis and third Porsche.
11:29 AM, P: The #18 Porsche is the first of the leaders to undergo a driver and tire change at lap 12 of that stint. Timo Bernhard will bring the #17 Porsche in on the next lap, presumably for the same service.
11:28 AM, P: Harry Tincknell limps the #22 Nissan into the pits with what looks to be Nissan’s first non-door hinge issue of the race.
11:24 AM, P: Unsurprisingly, the Riley Motorsports Viper takes the lead in GTE-Am as the first silver and bronze-rated drivers get into those cars. Aston Martin #98 still runs second, but is losing time every lap as amateur Paul Dalla Lana replaces professional Pedro Lamy in that car.
11:22 AM, P: Andre Lotterer lays down a 3:18.865! That’s half a second below the fastest time of Porsche #17. If the job of Audi #7 is to be a hare, it is filling the role admirably. He pits this lap, 12 laps into the stint.
11:17 AM, P: Looks like the #37 SMP Racing BR01 LMP2 entry has been in the garage since their stop under safety car. Not clear what the issue there is, but it isn’t contact-related. Presumably, that car is facing teething issues on its Le Mans debut.
11:15 AM, P: A flat left-rear for the #55 GTE-Am AF Corse Ferrari. Looks like he’ll make it back with no issue.
11:10 AM, P: Aston Martin #96, a GTE-Am entry, is in and out of the barrier. It rolls away without assistance and drives back to the pits, where it will be repaired in the garage.
11:08 AM, P: Scott Sharp spins the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier and beaches it in Tetre Rouge’s gravel trap. His team mate and fellow team co-owner Ed Brown spins on the other side of the track, seemingly in solidarity, a few moments later.
11:00 AM, P: Hour 2 Update
LMP1: Andre Lotterer has put on a wild charge over the last hour, taking the overall lead from the top two Porsches in one corner, falling back under a cycle of stops, and then retaking that lead on the track. His #7 Audi leads Porsches #17 and #18 by a few seconds and Porsche #19 and his fellow Audis #8 and #9 by around 20 seconds.
LMP2: It’s been a back-and-forth affair between the only two new Oreca 05 coupes in the field so far, with KCMG #47 leading Thiriet by TDS #46 at the moment. The open topped Gibson, formerly a Zytek, of Greaves Motorsport runs a surprising third over G-Drive branded OAK Ligier #26 and OAK-branded Ligier #34
GTE-Pro: Aston Martin continues early dominance with #95 well ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #71 and Aston Martin #97, with Aston Martin #97, AF Corse Ferrari #71 and Corvette #64 continuing to be locked together in a battle for fourth.
GTE-Am: SMP Racing Ferrari #72 and Dempsey-Proton Porsche #77 haven’t pitted yet and lead the category over Viper #53 and Ferrari #83, who also haven’t pitted yet.
10:59 AM, P: Lotterer takes Audi #7 back to the overall lead. All three Porsches now sit behind him together.
10:58 AM, P: Tracy Krohn has now spun three times in 8 miles as he gets underneath the #30 Ligier into the first Mulsanne chicane, spinning both American Ligiers. This will bring the first slow zone of the race.
10:55 AM, P: The battle for fourth in GTE-Pro is getting a little wild between Aston Martin #99, Corvette #64 and AF Corse Ferrari #71. They’re three wide out of Mulsanne hairpin as the Aston passes the Corvette and the Ferrari passes both.
10:52 AM, P: In one lap, Lotterer puts 3 seconds on the #18 Porsche and moves to within just two seconds of the #17 Porsche and the lead. Ed Brown spins the #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier on the exit of Arnage but rejoins without getting beached.
10:48 AM, P: And just as I say that, Andre Lotterer puts the #7 Audi back past the #18 Porsche to retake second. Meanwhile, Porsche #17 puts up a new fast lap for the race, a mind-blowing 3:19.346. Audi #7 is the only other car under 3:20.
10:47 AM, P: #17 is the last of the contenders to pit, by my numbers after a massive 17-lap stint. He rejoins in the lead, with both he and the #18 Porsche leapfrogging the #7 Audi of a very aggressive Andre Lotterer under that second cycle of stops.
10:45 AM, P: Tracy Krohn spins his bright green Ligier into the first Mulsanne chicane. He backs up over the racing line to get out of the way.
10:43 AM, P: Another lead change in the pit lane in LMP2 as the KCMG Oreca again takes the lead back from the Thiriet by TDS Oreca. Pedro Lamy, unsurprisingly, again drives right back up into the lead in GTE-Am. He’s a little overqualified for that class.
10:40 AM, P: Audi #7 pits from the lead. 15 laps on that stint, including a lengthy safety car period. Porsche #17 leads Porsche #18 overall by three full seconds, but both will pit soon as well.
10:37 AM, P: Andre Lotterer is all-out in the lead, making a wild pass around the outside of one of the G-Drive Ligiers and cutting back inside in time to pass a GT car down the Hunaudières.
10:33 AM, P: Audi #9 and Porsche #19, both one-off entries for their respective teams and both trailing all of their team mates, short pit from fifth and sixth. Both went 12 laps on that cycle, thanks in no small part to a 20-minute safety car period.
10:32 AM, P: Lotterer is pushing very hard now in #7 Audi, forcing the #18 Porsche all the way up to the back of the #19 Porsche.
AND HE’S THROUGH
In one corner, the #7 Audi passes both lead Porsches to take the overall lead! At 1 hour and 32 minutes in, the Audi is the first non-Porsche to lead the field today.
10:30 AM, P: In case the large fire didn’t make it clear, the #92 Porsche is the first official retirement of the race. Porsche Team Manthey joins Corvette Racing now in being a GTE-Pro powerhouse with just one car left after one hour of running.
10:25 AM, P: A frenzied fight throughout the top 6 as Audis #8 and #9 go three wide with Porsche #19. For the first time all day, Audi #7 has pressure on Porsches #17 and #18 for the overall lead.
10:24 AM, P: Back to green.
10:23 AM, P: Safety cars in this lap. Looks like the one with the LMP1 leaders will exit halfway down the Mulsanne.
10:21 AM, P: Andre Lotterer, in the #7 Audi, is told by engineer Leena Gade to avoid the oil-absorbing material laid down in the first Mulsanne chicane to clean up after the #92 Porsche to avoid future issues. That’s a new one.
10:15 AM, P: Toyota #2 spins under safety car in the second Mulsanne chicane.
10:12 AM, P: Upon further review, it appears the #42 Strakka Racing Dome LMP2 entry was also involved in the Rebellion #13’s earlier incident. The Dome is in the pits for repairs, while the Rebellion is the first car in the garage.
10:06 AM, P: Safety car 1/Hour 1 update:
LMP1: Just an hour in and already it’s clear that this is a six horse race, with our obvious contenders coming from two stables. Porsche #17 leads #18, with Audis #8, #7 and #9 ahead of Porsche #19. All are behind the same safety car. So too are both Toyotas, #1 leading #2, which have yet to get within 3 seconds of the 3:20 laps that the two Volkswagen family cars are capable of. With Rebellion #13’s issues, Rebellion #12 leads among privateers.
LMP2: The two Oreca 05s are the class of the field to this point, with the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing the faster of the pair. Just behind it is the #47 KCMG Oreca, followed by the first two Ligiers in the field: The #26 G-Drive-branded OAK car and the #34 OAK car.
GTE-Pro: Aston Martin has dominant speed and holds down three of the top four spots in class early. AMR #95 is your leader, followed by AF Corse #51, Astons numbers 97 and 99, and Corvette #64 rounding out the top 5.
GTE-Am: SMP Racing’s #72 Ferrari leads after the first set of stops, followed close behind by the #98 Aston Martin, #55 AF Corse Ferrari and #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche.
10:01 AM, P: After an uneventful first hour, it’s all happening at once. At the end of hour 1, the #13 Rebellion and #92 Porsche spin together in the first Mulsanne chicane. The Rebellion spins and needs to be recovered from a gravel trap, while the Porsche has caught fire. Looks like #92 will be our first retirement and this will be our first safety car.
9:55 AM, P: With stops cycled through in GTE, Aston Martin #95 takes the GTE-Pro lead from the #99 that had lead prior.
9:51 AM, P: In LMP2, the Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05 has passed the KCMG Oreca 05 during that cycle of stops. In the GTE categories, stops are just now beginning.
9:49 AM, P: “What do you see, Jeremy” “A man closing a door.”
At least when all other streaming options fail, Radio Le Mans continues to bring us succinct analysis you can’t find anywhere else.
9:47 AM, P: The driver’s side door on the #21 Nissan is stuck open! That’s an issue...
9:35 AM, P: As expected, the majority of the leaders follow on lap 10. Still a few yet to pit.
9:34 AM, P: Audi #9 is the first of the leaders to stop at lap 9. It should be joined by the rest of the top cars soon.
9:33 AM, P: All three Audis and all three Porsches have a fast lap between 3:20.8 and 3:20.4, while the Toyotas are a good 3-4 seconds a lap behind.
9:22 AM, P: The #7 Audi passes the #8 to take the lead among Audis as all three of those entries and the #19 Porsche stay close together. In the Nissan pits, the #23 tries three times to restart from that 5 minute penalty, and fails each time. Seems to be a recurring issue...
9:17 AM, P: The #98 GTE-AM Aston Martin, currently driven by Pedro Lamy, is joining the three GTE-Pro Aston Martins in flying through the field. Soon, the top four GTE cars overall will be Aston Martins.
9:11 AM, P: The #23 Nissan is the first car to stop, doing so for a five minute stop-and-go penalty assessed for... Something.
9:08 AM, P: We already have a lead change in-class, as the #99 Aston Martin passes the #51 AF Corse Ferrari in the run up to Indianapolis.
9:06 AM, P: In early running, the class leaders in the lower classes are KCMG in LMP2, AF Corse Ferrari #51 in GTE-Pro and #98 Aston Martin in GTE-Am. The numbers 8 and 7 Audi have both found their way around the one-off #19 Porsche.
9:00 AM, P: The green flag is thrown and the #17 Porsche darts past the #18 to take the overall lead. The three Audis sit close behind the three leading Porsches, with the Toyotas lagging just behind.
8:59 AM, P: A few cars were sent to the back of the field: One AF Corse Ferrari, all three Nissan LMP1 cars, the ByKolles LMP1 CLM and one LMP2 car. They were sent to the back of their category, not the overall grid.
8:58 AM, P: An AF Corse Ferrari, looks like #71, stalls on the warm-up lap at Arnage. It restarts without incident.
8:50 AM, P: Opening ceremonies continue in France as they seem to have for over an hour now. The French national anthem has been played three times, for some reason. Not a bad thing, it’s a decent national anthem, but certainly something I’d prefer in a nation like Canada with a top-tier anthem. In just a few minutes, cars will start rolling and the race, and clock, will begin.
(Title photo via Nissan Motorsports PR)