Le Mans 24h, H16: Toyotas lead, Ferrari vs. Corvette in GTE Pro

The #7 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez led the Le Mans 24 Hours by 23sec at the two-thirds distance mark, while the Ferrari vs. Corvette battled continued to rage in GTE Pro.

The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry had a 68sec lead despite a wayward moment for Lopez at Mulsanne Corner, when Kazuki Nakajima pitted the #8 car pitted at the end of the 17th hour.

However, when Lopez handed over to Conway, the pitcrew struggled with a sticking wheelnut and gave up 40sec of its advantage to the other Toyota, although the Briton and Nakajima were then matching each other’s laptimes, around 3sec off their fastest laps.

This isn’t the closest the pair have been, however, as Kamui Kobayashi dropped the #7 car at Indianapolis in the 13th hour, and emerged only 9sec ahead, after avoiding the barrier. Then in the 15th hour, as Brendon Hartley handed over to Nakajima, the #8 got a new nose. Just as this 16th hour was completed, Nakajima reported a gear change issue to his team.

Third in the top class, four laps behind the leaders, is the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson currently piloted by Nicolas Lapierre, chased by the #708 Glickenhaus 007 of Olivier Pla on the same lap, The second Glickenhaus of Richard Westbrook runs two laps further behind.

In LMP2, Team WRT run 1-2, Robin Frijns (car #31) just 6.5sec ahead of Robert Kubica (#41), while Will Stevens is a lap down in the Panis Racing entry 11sec ahead of Tom Blomqvist in the JOTA entry.

The #22 United Autosports car lost third place and several laps to an alternator issue.

In GTE Pro, Alessandro Pier Guidi’s #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo leads but great work by Nicky Catsburg in the #63 Corvette C8.R has been continued by Antonio Garcia and these two now run 20sec apart.

The #52 AF Corse Ferrari should also have been part of this battle but now runs several laps adrift after suffering left-rear suspension failure in the 14th hour.

That has allowed the Porsche 911 RSR-19s of Michael Christensen (#92) and Richard Lietz (#91) into third and fourth places.

AF Corse is also in charge of the GTE Am class, Francois Perrodo’s #83 Ferrari leading the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR currently steered by Ben Keating by 1min40sec. Also on the lead lap in class is the Iron Lynx Ferrari of Matteo Cressoni.

A lap down is the Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR of Christian Ried, chased by Claudio Schiavoni in another Iron Lynx car.

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Le Mans 24h, H12: Toyota, Ferrari maintain control at halfway point
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