LM24, Hour 23: Faltering Ferraris bring troubled Toyota back into the fight

After suffering two punctures in the second half of the race, the No. 7 Toyota looked down and out. Yet here we are, at the end, with rain coming down and super-sub Jose Maria Lopez handed a shot at glory amid perhaps the most spirited drive of his career.

How did it happen? The No. 50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P, following its most recent stop, was forced to relinquish the lead due to its door issue. Nicklas Nielsen was spotted by the cameras repeatedly slamming the door to try and fix the issue.

However, he was unable to solve the issue and was eventually called in for repairs by the race director. This saw the No. 50 drop to fifth.


Is that all she wrote? Not quite. Nielsen certainly doesn’t think so, the Dane has been on a tear ever since trying to make up for the lost time. He’s also now out of sequence with the rest of the field, so it’s not yet clear how it will shake out in the final hour. Once it has taken its final stop, will it be able to make it to the flag on fuel?

After the No. 50’s unscheduled stop initially handed the No. 7 Toyota the lead, everyone pitted and handed the top spot back.

That happened moments after the No. 7 had taken second from the No. 51 Ferrari.

Jose Maria Lopez tried to make the move at Dunlop, but couldn’t quite force his way past Alessandro Pier Guidi. After kissing the side of the 499P, he would have to wait until the next run down Mulsanne to make the move.

Since then he’s pulled away, opening up a gap of 24 seconds.

However, No. 50 is back out front into the final hour, but will need to come in shortly as we reach the run to the flag.

Even better news for the No. 50 is that the investigation for an unsafe release is over, and no further action has been taken.

The No. 51 Ferrari though, was handed a five-second time penalty for the collision with the No. 8 Toyota. It is currently third and may end up needing to focus on the No. 6 Porsche behind rather than fighting for second or first as the clock ticks down.

The No. 2 Cadillac also needs a mention, as the car’s front wiper came off during Alex Lynn’s final stint forcing the team in to change the blade and put Alex Palou in for the end. The GM brand’s chances appear to have faded as a result, with Palou now 1:50 off the lead and sixth.

In the other classes, United Autosports looks on course for another LMP2 victory, with the No. 22 holding a 7-second advantage over the No. 24 Inter Europol ORECA. The No. 28 IDEC Sport ORECA is third.

In LMGT3 it’s still static, the No. 91 Manthey Porsche leading the No. 31 Team WRT BMW. The gap has grown though, with Richard Lietz now 33 seconds up the road from Augusto Farfus.

One hour to go…


Story originally appeared on Racer