LM24, Hour 3: Incidents aplenty as No.83 Ferrari takes charge

After three hours of racing at La Sarthe, the track has dried out, but there have been plenty of incidents to report.

Out front, it’s the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari leading, Robert Swartzmann enjoying his time spent in the lead, gained in part by pace from Robert Kubica at the start and the decision to stay on slicks.

Throughout the hour the No. 5 Porsche was second with Michael Christensen installed, but it pitted as Hour 4 began, dropping it down to third behind the No. 8 Toyota.

With many cars on different strategies due to the rain, there are bunches of cars pitting at different times, making the order behind the No. 83 hard to read.


The No. 51 Ferrari – which has recovered nicely after switching to wets – is now fourth, with the sister No. 50 fifth after serving its penalty for an unsafe release.

In LMP2, 2023 winner Inter Europol has worked its way to the front. Clement Noavalak remains at the wheel, and is ahead of the Vector Sport ORECA, which switched from Patrick Pilet to Ryan Cullen at its last stop. 

Super GT and Formula Champion Ritomo Miyata is third in the No. 37 COOL ORECA, with the No. 22 United Autosports 07 Gibson fourth. The leading Pro/Am LMP2 cars is the No. 183 car currently being steered by 2023 GTE Am class winner Nico Varrone.

Few would have had AKKODIS ASP leading LMGT3 on their bingo card pre-race after a difficult start to its first season with the RC F LMGT3. But the French team, on home turf, has managed the start of this race beautifully.

Esteban Masson leads the way by 31s over Ahmad Al Harthy in the No. 46 BMW M4 GT3, who has taken over from Maxime Martin. The No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche is up to third, with the No. 77 Proton Mustang down to fourth with Ryan Hardwick in following Ben Barker’s rapid start.

JMW’s Ferrari has also dropped down the order. The team’s Bronze Salih Yoluc is fifth, the most recent stop longer due to the driver change from Larry Ten Voorde, who led in the previous hour.

Of the teams that gambled on tires in the rain, the No. 92 Pure Rxcing Manthey Porsche is ninth, while the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston is down to 11th. 

The hour began with the first major incident. The first retirement of the race is the No. 54 Vista AF Corse Ferrari after Thomas Flohr lost the rear of the car at the kink before the Dunlop Chicane, hitting the barriers hard on driver’s right. The error occurred shortly after the Swiss had served a penalty for the clash with the COOL ORECA in Hour 2.

“Sometimes Le Mans goes well, sometimes not. Thankfully Thomas is fine,” Flohr’s teammate Davide Rigon said.

Another retirement may be close too, as the No. 23 United Autosports ORECA ( a pre-reace favourite to win P2 Pro/Am), which had an off at Dunlop, is currently in the pits being worked on.

“A piece of gravel has gotten stuck between the belt and alternator. There’s no coming back from this,” a downbeat Keating said.

Halfway into the hour, the race for BMW’s Hypercar effort on the 25th anniversary of its overall win with the V12 LMR, went from bad to worse. Robin Frijns in the No. 20 ‘Art Car’ – while running 16th – lost control on the run into the Ford Chicane, spinning off the circuit and into the barriers on the left-hand side of the track.

The impact damaged the front, right side and rear of the car. Frijns was able to continue with a punctured rear tire, but to make matters worse, he had to complete an entire lap with the damage as the incident occurred just after pit-in.

When he arrived back to his pit box, he was pushed back into the garage for repairs to the car’s right-rear suspension.

That’s an incident apiece for both M Hybrid V8s so far. With No. 20 now seven laps down and effectively out of contention, it’s all eyes on the delayed No. 15, which is on the lead lap but 20th and more than three minutes adrift.


Story originally appeared on Racer