LM24 Hour 7: Safety car greets nightfall after heavy BMW incident

With rain, tire strategy gambles, crashes, mechanical issues and the first safety car period of the race, the seventh hour of the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours had it all.

The safety car made its first appearance after a big shunt on the run down to Mulsanne Corner.

Dries Vanthoor in the No. 15 Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8 skipped the second chicane on his out lap, struggling on cold tires. When he rejoined, he was promptly nudged while being passed by the race-leading No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari of Robert Kubica as the two cars were passing the Pure Rxcing Porsche.

The contact sent Vanthoor veering off the circuit, nose-first into the barriers, ripping the front end off the car. The Belgian briefly got going, but with the front wheels not pointing in the right direction, quickly stopped again to retire the car.


A total of three Hypercars are now out, and the safety car came out to clean up the debris and repair the barriers. As for BMW’s challenge, the “Art Car” is still technically in the running but is currently in the garage and 16 laps off the lead. The car has already had a rear driveshaft change, a rear brake change and is currently undergoing work to its rear and floor.

Under safety car, the No. 83 AF Corse leads the race, with the No. 5 Porsche of Fred Makowiecki second and the No. 8 Toyota third.

In LMP2 the No. 37 COOL Racing ORECA leads despite suffering a spin at pit-in, costing the car precious time. The No. 22 United ORECA is up to second, while the Vector Sport car dropped from first to third after pitting under the Safety Car.

LMGT3, meanwhile, is led by the No. 46 BMW once again, with Pure Rxcing second and the Heart of Racing Aston Martin up to third after a gradual fightback following the team’s early tire gamble.

Beyond the incident for the No. 15 BMW, there was another significant incident when Claudio Schiavoni in the No. 60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini, with part of the circuit wet from a passing shower, ended up in the barriers past the second chicane after putting the power down too early on the corner exit.

Sebastian Bourdais also had an off-track excursion, at Indianapolis, though avoided contact with the barriers in the No. 3 Cadillac.

The No. 46 BMW of Maxime Martin and No. 23 United ORECA of Ben Hanley came together when the rain was at its heaviest. Both cars continued.

In pit lane, mechanical drama befell Inception Racing’s LMGT3 pole-sitting McLaren, which was pushed back into the garage with steam coming off the radiator.

Prior, in the rain, almost the entire Hypercar field came in for wet Michelins, except the No. 50 and No. 51 factory Ferraris. The team was certain the rain would pass. Unfortunately for the Italians, it didn’t before the No. 51 fell off the lead lap, struggling for pace.

With the wave-around process during the safety car, the No. 51 is back in the fight, though. The top 12 are now on the lead lap as we await the restart.


Story originally appeared on Racer