LM24, Hour 21: Three to go, four in it after AF Corse Ferrari issues

Well then, three hours to go and the top four positions in Hypercar are occupied by four different factory teams. 

This titanic four-way fight looks set to go down to the wire.

The race is evolving, the track is evolving, rain is beginning to become a factor again, and the varying pit strategies continue to shuffle the pack.

Remarkably, the No. 2 Cadillac’s quiet charge is still ongoing, With Alex Palou at the wheel, the blue-nosed V-Series.R has found a way to hold the lead at the crossover between two hours for the first time. 

Cadillac appears to be in the fight now, as IndyCar star Palou has flexed his muscles by setting the odd rapid lap time, while stretching the envelope on fuel. The only pitfall may be tire life, Cadillac has been double stinting through the morning while the other teams have opted to triple. Will its chances fade as a result?


Behind the No. 50 Ferrari is 5.4 seconds off in second, with Miguel Molina now aboard, 12 seconds clear of Brendon Hartley in the No. 8 Toyota.

Outside the top three, the end of the hour saw a thrilling duel between Kevin Estre (No. 6 Porsche) on soft tyres and Alessandro Pier Guidi (No. 51) on mediums. 

The pair came together multiple times, Estre losing grip but finding a way to stay ahead and hold fourth for an entire lap before finally, Pier Guidi drafted past down the Mulsanne Straight into the first chicane to take the place.

They sit 30 seconds off the leading Cadillac and therefore still in with a shot at glory this afternoon.

The No. 7 Toyota is 49 seconds back having had to pit a second time in two hours off sequence for a puncture. This delay has placed the No. 8 as the firm favourite for the Japanese marque.

What about the No. 83 privately-entered Ferrari 499P you ask? Well this hour saw its chances of victory come to an abrupt end. 

Robert Shwartzman, who along with Robert Kubica and Ye Yifei had starred all race and at times looked like the best of the three Ferraris, was pushed back into the garage after the car encountered a Hybrid system issue.

It remains in the garage into the 22nd hour.

In LMP2 the order, yet again, has changed enormously, as pit strategies shuffle the pack each hour.

The No. 28 IDEC Sport 07 Gibson of Reshad De Gerus is out front with a 15-second advantage over Vladislav Lomko in the No. 34 Inter Europol ORECA. The No. 37 COOL Racing entry is third with the mercurial Malthe Jakobsen in – one to watch. 

Vector Sport’s challenge is now being led by Ryan Cullen, who is now down to fourth.

Manthey EMA’s run out front in LMGT3 continues. Most impressive has been Morris Schuring’s ability to hold Augusto Farfus in the No. 31 WRT BMW at bay. The gap has stayed between 1 and 2 seconds for his entire stint.

Will it come to blows? Or will the No. 91 Porsche find a way to keep the BMW at arm’s length until the flag?

Completing the podium places is the No. 88 Proton Competition Mustang. It’s been a total rollercoaster for this car, at times in the top five, at times outside the top 10 as the conditions have changed.


Story originally appeared on Racer