LM24, Hour 2: No.50 Ferrari leads as rain shakes up the order

After a frantic first hour of racing at the Circuit de La Sarthe, Hour 2 delivered an equal amount of excitement, but with an added factor for the teams to deal with: rain.

The rain came 40 minutes into the hour, showers affecting the run to Mulsanne Corner, the entrance to the Porsche Curves and the pit straights.

This prompted a heft chunk of the field to gamble on tires, including all but seven of the Hypercars. But with so much of the circuit dry, many teams stayed out on slicks, a decision which, heading into Hour 3, looks to have paid off.

Up front, the running order has been totally changed. The No. 50 AF Corse Ferrari 499P leads the way, with Nicklas Nielsen, on medium slicks, at the wheel. He was involved in a thrilling duel with Robert Kubica in the privately-entered No. 83 Ferrari towards the end of the hour after the second round of stops. The pair swapped positions multiple times but Nielsen prevailed. No team orders were in play!


The No. 83 Ferrari sits second into Hour 3, with the No. 12 – newly rebuilt – HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche third, a remarkable situation for a car which looked down and out after its crash in practice.

The top six is completed by the No. 5 Penske Porsche and the No. 19 and No. 63 Iron Lynx Lamborghinis – enjoying a steady, quiet start to the first 24-hour race for the SC63.

First of the cars that pitted for wets is the pole-sitting No. 6 Porsche of Andre Lotterer in seventh, with the No. 38 HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche eighth.

Perhaps Ferrari has learned its lesson from Imola? The team opted to split its tire strategy in changing conditions this time. It’s allowed the team to hold onto the lead and experiment simultaneously.

The No. 51 499P is down to 15th and has since pitted a fourth time to return to slicks and a driver change to James Calado. 

Of the other early contenders, the No. 8 Toyota and No. 3 Cadillac have also lost chunks of time by going to wets and switching back. 

In LMP2 it’s Vector Sport’s ORECA, out of nowhere, which leads due to the change in conditions. The No. 34 Inter Europol entry is second with the No. 24 Nielsen Racing example third.

The AO by TF entry leads Pro/Am in fourth, with Bronze-rated PJ Hyett at the wheel.

LMGT3, meanwhile, is being controlled by JMW Motorsports’ Ferrari, which holds a commanding lead of 37s with Larry Ten Voorde the fastest man on the tricky conditions. 

Most of the field in the class stayed on slicks. Only the No. 88 Proton Mustang, No. 92 Pure Rxcing Porsche, No. 70 Inception McLaren and No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin gambled.

The No. 44 Proton Mustang – being steered by Chris Mies – is up to second, lapping half a second ahead of the Iron Dames Lamborghini.

Despite much of the field staying out on slicks on a partially wet circuit, there were no big incidents in the hour. There was, however, a notable clash between the No. 54 Vista AF Corse Ferrari and No. 47 COOL Racing ORECA through the Porsche Curves, for which the No. 54 was later penalized.


Story originally appeared on Racer