The Porsche #1 is still alone out front. Will the #2 be able to ensure a 1-2 finish for the German marque? It is four laps behind the second-placed #38 Oreca 07 - Gibson #38. Meanwhile, the LMGTE Pro class is still hotly contested.
It was 33°C yesterday afternoon when the flag was lowered to start the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was hot, perhaps too hot for the cutting-edge technologies in the hybrid prototypes, which have since either spent a lot of time in their garages (#2 Porsche and #8 Toyota) or retired (#7 and #9 Toyota) due to technical issues (after a spin off track through no fault of his own for Nicolas Lapierre in the #9). Even the #1 had a bit of a fright when Neel Jani left the track coming into the pit lane, leading to a change of front bonnet. With four hours to go, Jani/Lotterer/Tandy have a clear 13-lap lead on the first LMP2.
One question remains: will the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid make its way back up the field and on to the race podium? According to the latest calculations, it is still possible, but they need to make up ten seconds per lap on the second-placed Vaillante Rebellion.
Of course, one team’s misery makes another team’s luck and the LMP2 teams are having a great morning: the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 holds an unexpected second place, two laps ahead of the #13 Vaillante Rebellion, which spent four minutes in its garage due to a problem with its starter this past hour. The #35 Alpine is just one minute behind.
Just 3 minutes separate the first five, in order: a Corvette, an Aston Martin, a Porsche, a Ford and a Ferrari! The positions change as the teams come in and out of the pits. Tyre and fuel management will be decisive over the next four hours. The rising temperatures (current air temperature 25°C and track temperature 27°C) will be crucial to tyre choice. It is worth noting that only Aston Martin is shod with Dunlop rubber, its rivals having opted for Michelin.
Positions have stabilised with three Ferraris in the top three spots: the JMW Motorsport #84 ahead of the Spirit of Race #55 and the Scuderia Corsa #62.
Photo: The #1 Porsche looks set for victory.