LM24 Hour 9: Green, plus Ferrari penalty and more BMW woes

With the race returning to green in the ninth hour, the 92nd edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours has come alive, with the cars on the lead lap in each class bunched up and another bout of rain throwing a wrench in the works.

The No. 83 Ferrari led at the restart, but Robert Kubica and every car bar the No. 5 Porsche and No. 311 Whelen Cadillac dived straight in for wets.

Staying out on slicks proved to be a mistake. The No. 5 Porsche, after inheriting the lead, dropped down to 11th, while the No. 311 ended up falling to 12th and last of the cars on the lead lap with Pipo Derani struggling to keep the pace.


Kubica retook the lead off Fred Makowiecki for the No. 83 crew with ease on wets, but moments later was handed a 30s stop-go penalty for causing the collision that led to the No. 15 WRT BMW crashing out of the race. The infraction dropped the car to sixth.

After all this, the No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 HYBRID suddenly leads the race, with Ryo Hirakawa holding station with a 17s gap back to Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 6 Penske Porsche.

The No. 7 Toyota completes the top three, and for this trio, the comeback is complete after they all lost time to tire gambles early in the race.

Cadillac occupies fourth with the No. 2, with the No. 50 Ferrari completing the top five.

LMP2, meanwhile, saw drama for Duqueine Team’s ORECA punctuate the hour. Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer stopped the car with the rear end smoking, the car’s engine seemingly overheating under the safety car — an on-the-spot retirement.

Out front, the No. 37 COOL Racing ORECA finds itself back in the lead, rapid Dane Malthe Jakobsen installed for what is easily the toughest sequence of the race yet, with the night hours underway and parts of the track drying.

The No. 24 Nielsen Racing example, since the Safety Car, has climbed to second with 2023 class winner Fabio Scherer now lapping the circuit. The No. 183 Pro/Am leading entry with Ben Barnicoat at the wheel is third.

LMGT3 saw one of the key contenders hit potentially terminal trouble.

The No. 46 Team WRT BMW, with Bronze-rated Ahmad Al Harthy at the wheel, ended up sliding off the circuit on the run down the hill after the Dunlop Bridge, hitting the tires nose first. The impact caused a water leak and the car plummeted down the order.

Al Harthy, who seemed a total passenger once the back end stepped out on him, was understandably mortified on the team radio: “It just slipped on me. Not again, oh my God, guys,” he said.

The car was retired just into the tenth hour, ending the charge for Valentino Rossi in his first Le Mans start — a crying shame after he led a portion of the opening hours. It also adds to BMW’s woes. The German marque’s only chance of success rests with the No. 31 M4 LMGT3 in 10th, as both its Hypercars have been knocked out of contention.

This leaves the Manthey Pure Rxcing Porsche out front in the lead, with the No. 88 Proton Mustang now back into the fray with Dennis Olsen trying to reel in Klaus Bachler.

Manthey EMA’s Porsche is third.

With conditions treacherous, tire choice is set to be crucial going forward as the field gradually switches back to slicks.


Story originally appeared on Racer