LM24, Hour 3: Rain adds to early-hour chaos

We’ve now had three hours of chaotic racing at Le Mans. Hour 3 was incident-packed and featured multiple, multi-car battles for top positions in Hypercar. But they were all for nothing, as to make things even more frenetic, the hour ended with a deluge between Indianapolis and the Porsche Curves, bringing out a safety car.

While the sun was out in pit lane, the rain came down hard on the second half of the lap and caused multiple cars to spin and slide off track on slick tires. The cars caught out included the No. 3 Cadillac of Scott Dixon, the Walkenhorst Ferrari, the No. 709 Glickenhaus 007, the No. 31 WRT ORECA, and the GR Racing Porsche that was leading GTE at the time with Ricardo Pera aboard.

Pera came off worst of the cars in trouble, hitting the barriers hard at the rear after multiple rotations, damaging the Porsche. Dixon meanwhile, was more lucky, only kissing a guardrail while spinning in front of the Porsche.


Of the winners from the change in conditions, Gustavo Menezes was flying in the wet on slicks in the No. 94 Peugeot, climbing as high as second. It was a heart-warming memorable moment for the struggling Peugeot Sport program when the company’s top brass was seen by TV cameras cheering the American on as he put the French make into the top three. The No. 2 Cadillac also pitted for wets just before the safety car, giving the team an advantage.

“Tough start to the race. We led off and were about P5 or P6. It was difficult with the track as green from the rain earlier, but second and third stint we know our Cadillac is really strong in those stints,” related No. 2 Cadillac driver Earl Bamber. “So, as we started to get there, we started to move forward and led the first-ever laps for Cadillac at Le Mans. Proud of that. I came in just ahead of the rain showers, so it’s going to be dicey for a few boys out there. We’ll keep charging on.”

The safety car’s appearance was due to the number of cars spotted aquaplaning. This caused almost the entire field to pit straight away, meaning the entire order, again, was turned on its head.

At the turn of the hour, the No. 50 AF Corse was shown as leading with Antonio Fuoco at the wheel, with the No. 51 Ferrari of Antonio Giovanazzi in second. The No. 94 Peugeot was shown third, though Gustavo Menezes pitted as the fourth hour began.

The No. 7 Toyota was fourth, with the No. 38 JOTA Porsche fifth. This will all change, however, with more stops to come under safety car conditions.

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LM24, Hour 4: Peugeot holds station up front

Chad Knaus on Hendrick Motorsports at Le Mans with Garage 56

LM24, Hour 2: Cadillac ahead of the chaos

In LMP2, JOTA’s No. 28 ORECA ended up leading LMP2, with the No. 35 and No. 36 Alpine ORECAs second and third.

In GTE, following the GR Racing incident, the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari was leading with Davide Rigon behind the wheel, with the No. 85 Iron Dames Porsche second and the “Rexy” Project 1 Porsche third.

The Hendrick Garage 56 Camaro is also still running fine, currently 44th overall, the team taking it easy in the opening hours to survive the changes in conditions.

Prior to the rain, 20 minutes into the hour there was another significant incident in the GTE AM class, which has been somewhat of a race of attrition in the opening hours. An out-of-control Claudio Schiavoni in the Iron Lynx Porsche hit the No. 16 Proton Competition Porsche hard at Tetre Rouge. The Italian ran wide onto the grass and ended up spearing the No. 16 911 RSR, (narrowly avoiding the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche) destroying the front-left corner of Ryan Hardwick’s car, the American left with nowhere to go. Both cars have been retired.

Shortly after, Frederick Lubin on the exit of Tetre Rouge lost the rear of the No. 22 United Autosports ORECA and whacked the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Mikkel Pedersen, heavily damaging its right-front corner. Both cars continued, and are still being repaired, the United 07 needing extensive suspension work.

The 6 Hours of Spa-winning No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari also crashed in the rain before the safety car with Lilou Wadoux at the wheel. Wadoux went backwards at high speed into the barriers at the Porsche Curves, and hasn’t made it back to the pits. If the car is out of the race, it will be the fifth retirement in GTE AM.

With the safety car still out as we head into Hour 4, we are left wondering, what next in this rollercoaster edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours? This race has yet to find any sort of rhythm.


Story originally appeared on Racer