24-Hour Le Mans: GTE Drama on the hour
Brian Laban, at Le Mans
16.00: Approaching the end of the first hour, and after the first round of pitstops, the six leading Porsches and Audi hybrid prototypes were still covered by less than seven seconds. And it wasn’t three by three, it was Porsche, Porsche, Audi, Audi, Audi, Porsche, the leaders having already traded fastest lap several times, with the Toyotas predictably enough starting to tail away slightly. It was as close as you could ever have called, and looking quite capable of staying that way for a long time. To break the all-time record, they need to average 16.6 laps per hour; this first hour delivered almost eighteen. And then almost on the chimes, the works GTE Porsche number 92 caught fire in a big way heading into the first chicane, and the 13 Rebellion LMP1 and 42 Strakka LMP2 were tripped up in their own incidents trying to miss it. The Safety Cars are out, the record is on hold for a while. And sadly, it’s game over for Manthey’s number 92.