LM24 Hour 10: Lead battle heats up with Porsche running down Toyota

With 14 hours remaining in the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours, we have ourselves a nose-to-tail lead battle to enjoy between two storied OEMs.

The No. 8 Toyota, after taking the lead in the previous hour, continues to hold station up front, but for Sebastien Buemi, the pressure is on with Laurens Vanthoor getting within a couple of seconds in the No. 6 Porsche Penske 963.

It hasn’t come to blows just yet, but Vanthoor managed to bring the gap down from 11s to 1.3s in the hour before handing over to Andre Lotterer at the car’s 14th stop. The German is now 8s behind as he gets his tires up to temperature.

The No. 7 Toyota remains third, more than a minute adrift and unable at this stage to gain significant ground with Kamui Kobayashi in the car.


Further back, the battle for fourth came alive over the past 60 minutes, with Earl Bamber briefly getting past Antonio Fuoco’s No. 50 Ferrari in the No. 2 Cadillac.

Fuoco retook the position but couldn’t shake off the Kiwi, who is likely to be under investigation shortly for turning the Isotta Fraschini round at the Ford Chicane.

LMP2 is being led all of a sudden by the No. 813 AF Corse Pro/Am-entered ORECA, IMSA regular Ben Barnicoat and Nico Varrone proving rapid prospects as the temperature trackside drops to 12 degrees.

Nielsen Racing’s surprising rise continues as its No. 24 entry sits second, with the No. 10 Vector ORECA third. All three are within 25s of each other.

Up front in LMGT3, mid-pit cycle at the turn of the hour, is the No. 59 United McLaren, which now leads the No. 78 AKKODIS ASP Lexus of Kelvin van der Linde and the No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche.

Making it two Lexus RC F LMGT3s in the top four is Takeshi Kimura in the No. 87. The No. 92 Pure Rxcing Porsche will shuffle back to the top three from fifth at the start of hour 11 as cars ahead pit.

There was one car forced into retirement during the hour in the class. Salih Yoluc in the No. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari pulled off the circuit with no power and was promptly retired.

After such a strong week, and a metronomic run through the first nine hours, this retirement will come as a crushing disappointment for the longstanding British team.

There was also a tangle in the class — the No. 155 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Jordan Taylor and No. 59 United Autosports McLaren of Gregoire Saucy came together at the first chicane.

A hit to the rear of the Ferrari turned Taylor into a spin and into the gravel. The United McLaren continued in fourth but the Ferrari has since dropped off the lead lap, unable to get fired.

On the subject of BMW’s tough day, WRT team boss Vincent Vosse released a statement after two of his team’s four cars have been forced to retire.

“Le Mans has been very tough to us so far,” he said. “Having car No. 20 in the garage after contact with the wall, having car No. 15 out of the race, which was then followed some hours later by car No. 46 also marking-up a DNF, is a hard one to swallow.

“Luckily all drivers are okay. But how can we not be disappointed? As we all know, Le Mans is the big one, but we will fight back.

“Car No. 31 is still running and we are hoping to fight for a podium — a well-deserved one for the crew that has been working tirelessly for the past two weeks.”


Story originally appeared on Racer