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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Le Mans 24h, H9: Peugeot leads, Ferrari spins, #7 Toyota out

Peugeot led the Le Mans 24 Hours after nine hours, after the erstwhile leading Ferrari spun into the gravel and a big shunt took out the #7 Toyota.

#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, Nico Muller

Nico Muller led the race at the nine-hour mark in the #94 Peugeot 9X8, ahead of Ryo Hirakawa in the #8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID, Alex Lynn’s Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R and the Ferrari 499Ps of polewinner Antonio Fuoco and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

At the end of the eighth hour, race leader Pier Guidi spun his #51 Ferrari into the gravel at the first Mulsanne chicane, beaching his car as two cars clashed right in front of him, one of them being the #911 Porsche GTE car of Richard Lietz.

Pier Guidi rejoined in fourth after being craned out of the gravel trap.

Moments later, there was a far bigger crash on the approach to Tertre Rouge at the start of a slow zone. The Graff Racing LMP2 machine of Giedo van der Garde was the first car to slow, and Kamui Kobayashi’s #7 Toyota backed off to avoid overtaking it.

Behind them, Louis Prette’s JMW Ferrari was launched over the rear of Kobayashi, after the P2 cars of Memo Rojas (Alpine) and Manuel Maldonado (Panis Racing) drove into the back of them. Van der Garde called it a “stupid incident”.

Kobayashi couldn’t restart his engine and leapt from his car – the first time a Toyota had retired from Le Mans for six years. A lengthy safety car was required to retrieve his car, as its high voltage system was left in an unsafe state.

A heavy rain shower at the start of the seventh hour had caused more chaos just after dusk, with many slick-shod cars running off track on a treacherous track surface, including Nicklas Nielsen in the #50 Ferrari – who went ploughing through the gravel at the Porsche Curves.

In LMP2, the #22 United Autosports and #9 Prema entries went off at Indianapolis, where the latter was hit by the #923 Racing Team Turkey car of Salih Yoluc.

The GTE Am-leading #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Giacomo Petrobelli spun into the gravel at Karting Curve, while the #100 Walkenhorst Ferrari needed salvaging from the second Mulsanne chicane.

Overall leader Pier Guidi had just missed the worst of the conditions and dived for the pits in the #51 Ferrari for wets and extended his advantage with a brilliant stint in testing conditions, extending a lead of over a minute from Loic Duval’s #94 Peugeot.

Just before 11pm, Porsche’s best-placed car, the #75 driven by Mathieu Jaminet, ground to a halt on the inside of Tertre Rouge with a fuel pressure problem. He attempted to drag the car back to the pits but was forced to give up – making it the first of the Hypercars to retire from the race, followed later by the #7 Toyota.

There was huge drama in LMP2 as the #23 United Autosports car of Tom Blomqvist took the lead from the #34 Inter Europol machine in the eighth hour but then suffered a big crash after reporting a brake issue and had to visit the medical centre while the car was being repaired.

#34 Inter Europol Competition Oreca 07 - Gibson of Jakub Smiechowski, Albert Costa, Fabio Scherer

#34 Inter Europol Competition Oreca 07 - Gibson of Jakub Smiechowski, Albert Costa, Fabio Scherer

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

The #34 Inter Europol car of Jakub Smiechowski led Maldonado – who escaped the earlier incident unscathed – and Paul Loup Chatin (IDEC).

In GTE Am, the #85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 led the #56 Project 1 – AO entry.

The Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 runs 38th overall in the hands of Mike Rockenfeller.

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