Le Mans 24h: Alonso chases lead #7 Toyota at halfway point

The battle for overall victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours remained in the balance at the halfway point between the Toyotas, despite swinging massively towards the #7 due to a slow-zone speeding penalty for its sister car.

The #7 held a 35s lead when the #8 was given a 60s stop/go penalty just before midnight, after Sebastien Buemi was pinged for speeding in a slow zone.

This handed a 2m10s lead to #7 – at the time in the hands of Mike Conway – but this was trimmed to 1m17s at the 12-hour point as Fernando Alonso took over #8 and chased down Jose Maria Lopez as the race hit the halfway point.

After getting out of the lead car, Conway admitted: “We have to be safe, but we have to keep the lead we’ve been given due to the penalty.”

Behind the dominant Toyotas, the #3 Rebellion survived a clutch sensor issue scare, which cost five minutes, to hold third ahead of the sister #1 car. 

The major retirement after midnight was the #17 SMP Racing entry, following Matevos Isaakyan's spectacular crash at the Porsche Curves. Isaakyan even removed the engine cover in a valiant attempt to return to the pits, but he was forced to jump from his car when its engine appeared to catch fire.

The #6 Manor-run Ginetta also went out when Olivier Rowland pulled off at Tertre Rouge.

The lead LMP2, the #26 G-Drive entry, is now in fifth overall, ahead of the battling #23 Panis-Barthez and #36 Signatech Alpine cars.

In GTE Pro, the #92 ‘Pink Pig’ Porsche continues to dominate, ahead of the pseudo-Rothmans sister #91 car. The #81 BMW had been giving chase, but a right-front damper failure cost four laps, putting the #68 Ford GT into third.

In the GTE Am, the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche leads the #85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Track Circuit de la Sarthe
Teams Toyota Racing
Article type Race report