Halfway through the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota Leads Porsche Under a Safety Car as Rain Continues

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Halfway through the 2024 24 Hours of Le MansGUILLAUME SOUVANT - Getty Images

The clock ticked down to 12 hours remaining with a safety car out and the leaders cycling through the pits under heavy rain. The No. 8 GR010-Hybrid of Toyota Gazoo Racing leads with 12 hours remaining; the team won two years ago in 2022.

The race will continue under a Stage 1 Safety car "Intervention" for a while longer as rain begins to fall heavier.

Reports came of rain with less than an hour remaining in the first half of the 24 Hour of Le Mans early Sunday morning. This time, all the leaders decided to come down early for wet-weather tires, to be better safe than sorry. The No. 8 GR010-Hybrid of Toyota Gazoo Racing took the lead in the ninth hour, and the No. 6 Penske Porsche, which started on the pole, was attempting to chase him down.


With 15 minutes remaining in the first half, a Safety car was deployed again with no prior yellow flag. The No. 8 made the call to pit and relinquished the lead to the No. 6. On the next lap; the No. 7 Toyota joined to stop for fuel and fresh wet tires as well; they would stay in third place as the No. 50 Ferrari came down behind them.

Kevin Estre and Porsche made the call a lap later to pit as well, and Brendon Hartley and the No. 8 retook the lead.

When the race returns to green, there will be 11 cars on the lead lap; behind the No. 8 Toyota and No. 6 Porsche will be the No. 7 Toyota, followed by the No. 50 and No. 83 Ferrari. Sixth through 11th is composed of three Ferraris, three additional Porsches, and two of the three Cadillacs. The leaders have run 172 laps in their first 12 hours.

In LMP2, the No. 183 AF Corse leads the class behind the safety car in 20th overall. In LMGT3, the No. 92 Manthey Purerxcing Porsche leads the class and is 31st overall.

So how did we get here?

The No. 6 Porsche Penske started on the pole, capturing the pole for the first time since 2017.

The Ferrari AF Corse No. 50 told the lead on the opening lap after starting in fourth position. Last year's race winner, the No. 51 Ferrari, joined its sister car within 12 minutes for a Ferrari 1-2.

The Ferrari continued course, weaving in and out of LMGT3 traffic to extend their lead over the No. 6 Porsche.

The No. 6 Porsche retook the lead after the first cycle of pitstops, but it was shortlived before the No. 50 Ferrari reclaimed the lead. It was then announced that the No. 50 received a 10-second penalty for an 'unsafe release' while exiting their pit stall and nearly colliding with the No. 3 Cadillac.

When rain first appeared on the radar around an hour and 40 minutes into the race, Toyota was the first to come down for rain tires; Cadillac and Alpine followed suit. This rain was not long-standing and marooned the drivers on a less favorable tire while other teams and manufacturers continued after navigating a few hairy laps.

Those that pitted for wet-weather tires would pit again and replace them with slicks, costing them positions early.

The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari made the pass for the lead ahead of his manufacturer partner after starting in 12th position. Shortly after the No. 50 Ferrari had his rearview mirror fall from it's left bracket, sending it to the pits for repairs.

The No. 20 BMW 'Art Car' lost control entering the Ford Chicane and hit hard into the tire barrier. Robin Frijns would have to limp the car back around the full circuit to return to the pit lane; after 20+ minutes of repairs, they were able to rejoin the race.

Five hours into the race, the first Alpine would retire from the race; Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen jumped out of the No. 35 as smoke billowed from the rear. He stayed, prepared to reenter the car if it proved safe, but ultimately would be forced to retire.

Just 40 minutes later, the No. 36 Alpine car retired due to engine trouble, leaving the French team out. of the top class in their home race.

The first full course yellow was deployed with less than 18 hours remaining. The No. 15 BMW was sent into the wall after being touched and spun into the wall by the leading No. 83 Ferrari. Dries Vanthoor was running in 16th and being past for the lead when his race was ended. Robert Kubica and the No. 83 were given a 30-second stop-and-hold penalty for what was deemed avoidable contact.

The No. 15 impact on the barriers led to an hour-plus safety car period for repairs. As cars slowly made their way around the circuit, a local dog took to the track and had to be cornered by marshalls. There are no official reports about the dog after it was initially shown on screen.

When the race resumed with under 16 hours remaining, there were bigger problems for Team WRT, which had already endured two crashes in Hypercars with one retirement; Ahmad Al Harthy lost control of the BMW LMGT# No. 46 car, which was leading earlier with Valentino Rossi behind the wheel but, after an earlier incident, was running fifth when it spun into the barrier, ending the race.

A full course yellow was deployed when the No. 45 APR Hypercar lost his left rear tire and was forced to retire from the race.

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