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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Le Mans-leading Ferrari slapped with big penalty for Kubica's BMW clash

The race-leading AF Corse Ferrari Hypercar has been slapped with a 30-second stop/go penalty for a collision that took out the #15 BMW from the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours.

#83 AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman, Yifei Ye

AF Corse driver Robert Kubica was trying to put a lap on Dries Vanthoor in the seventh hour of the race when he side-swiped the BMW at the end of the Mulsanne straight, sending the car head-on into the barriers.

The contact with the armco sent Vanthoor spinning to the other side of the track, where he came to a rest with severe damage to the front of the car.

The #15 BMW retired immediately on the spot, with the race control deploying a safety car to help with the recovery of the vehicle.

The stewards began investigating the incident soon afterwards, but it wasn’t until after the safety car period had ended in the ninth hour that a decision was announced.

It was deemed that Kubica was responsible for the collision, with the #83 Ferrari 499P he shares with factory drivers Yifei Ye and Robert Shwartzman being handed a 30-second stop/go penalty.

The sanction is set to drop the car from the lead of the race, as the safety car had bunched up the field and wiped out its entire lead - which stood at the best part of a minute at one point.

The #8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID of Ryo Hirakawa looks poised to move to the front after Kubica takes to the pitlane to serve the penalty.

#15 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Dries Vanthoor, Raffaele Marciello, Marco Wittmann

#15 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Dries Vanthoor, Raffaele Marciello, Marco Wittmann

Photo by: Marc Fleury

The factory #50 Ferrari that also didn’t pit for wet tyres at that point will now take over as the lead 499P on track.

The collision between the #83 Ferrari and the #15 BMW, which followed not long after Vanthoor had gone off at the second Mulsanne chicane, further wrecked the German manufacturer’s chances of a strong finish on its return to the top class at Le Mans after 25 years.

The #15 M Hybrid V8 had already dropped off the lead lap after Marco Wittmann suffered a crash in the opening hour, prompting an unscheduled visit to the pits.

The sister #20 entry also had its own share of drama, with Robin Frijns heavily damaging the car after clipping the kerb at the Ford Chicane in Hour 3. 

Frijns managed to complete a full lap of the track and bring the car back into the pits, but it remains in the garage at the time of writing.

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