LM24, Hour 4: No.83 Ferrari stretches its lead

Four hours have passed at Le Mans and the race hasn’t settled down, at all.

With the early rain showers setting a large chunk of the field on different pit strategies, there were frequent changes to the running order to keep up with as teams dived into the pits regularly through each hour.

In Hypercar the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari still leads the way. Robert Shwartzman has been superb thus far during his first taste of Le Mans race action.

For most of the hour, he was being trailed by the No. 50 Ferrari of Antonio Fuoco and No. 5 Penske Porsche of Michael Christensen, but both cars pitted for their fifth stops, dropping them to fifth and sixth briefly, before the next batch of stops just before the end of the hour saw them rise back up into the top three.


As the hour ticked over, the true lead gap became clear for all to see; Shwartzman leading Miguel Molina in the No. 50 Ferrari by 40 seconds, with the No. 5 Penske Porsche just a second behind in third.

The top three have managed to get to this point on five stops, while the rest of the chasing pack have visited the pit lane seven times after changing to wets and back again.

First of the seven-stoppers is the No. 4 Penske Porsche, with the No. 38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche fifth.

The No. 8 Toyota, which routinely rises to second and right behind the No. 83 through the pit stop cycle is sixth, ahead of the No. 51 Ferrari 499P that occupies seventh.

In LMP2 the story of the hour was that disaster struck the No. 34 Inter Europol ORECA. Clement Novalak, who was leading at the start of the hour, lost his left front wheel. A Full-Course Yellow was called to retrieve it as he limped back to the pits.

When he rejoined after having a new Goodyear boot fitted, he found himself down in 10th.

There were other incidents to report,for the No. 22 and No. 23 United Autosports ORECAs. The former, with Nolan Siegel at the wheel, ended up spinning at the Ford Chicane, clouting the DKR ORECA in the process. He was penalized with a drive-through for that off but remains third.

The No. 23 meanwhile, is back out after its alternator issue, but Ben Keating suffered a second spin at Dunlop, adding to a hugely frustrating day which has seen them fall 24 laps off the class leader.

Up front Vector Sport has wrestled control of the class lead, and has a 39-second advantage over the No. 37 COOL Racing ORECA. Ryan Cullen is doing a sterling job at keeping Ritomo Miyata at bay.

In LMGT3, fans of MotoGP will have been thrilled to see Valentino Rossi take control of the No. 46 WRT BMW for his first Le Mans stint and rise into the lead.

LMGT3 has been shuffled time and time again as teams opt to cycle bronze drivers in and out of their cars and double stint tires.

Rossi holds a 3.8 second lead over the JMW Ferrari which has Salih Yoluc at the controls and tasked with reeling in the Italian – not an easy task!

The No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche is third, while the No. 92 Pure Rxcing Porsche – with Alex Malykhin back at the wheel – has recovered nicely from its tire gamble and is now fourth.

The Iron Dames’ Lamborghini rounds out the top five.


Story originally appeared on Racer