Porsche Battle for Le Mans GT Title Coming Down to Two Cars With Two Hours Left LE MANS, France - June 17 -- With only two hours to go in the 69th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Porsche-only battle in the LM GT class is far from being...
Porsche Battle for Le Mans GT Title Coming Down to Two Cars With Two Hours Left
LE MANS, France - June 17 -- With only two hours to go in the 69th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Porsche-only battle in the LM GT class is far from being resolved. Throughout the past three hours, through showers and periods of near sunshine, the 77 Freisinger and #83 Seikel Porsche 911 GT3 RS' have battled for the lead of the class, with victory swinging first one way and then the other.
With Seikel's fastest driver, Fabio Babini, in the car, the car has a lead of nearly a minute over second placed Freisinger, which currently has Gunnar Jeannette in the driving seat. Amazingly, Babini is ninth in the overall classification.
Earlier, Seikel driver Luca Drudi spun, cutting his lead from 45 seconds to three seconds, and giving Freisinger a chance to overtake. It was young Frenchman Romain Dumas, 23 years old, who briefly took the Freisinger car back into the lead of the class, w ith a great battle against Babini. Dumas, a factory driver in Japan as well as driving for Forti in the European F3000 series, was rather despondent about their chances.
"Unfortunately, I'm driving with gentlemen drivers, and every time I hand over the car, I have to watch my lead disappear. I obviously didn't manage to build up enough of a margin against Babini, and now they're back in the lead. I can't see how we can win, unless something happens to the Seikel car. But it was a great fight," said Dumas.
An equally big battle has been going on for the third place in the category, between FIA GT rivals #80 Larbre Competition and #75 Perspective Racing Porsches. With a see-saw battle going first one way and then the other, Perspective gambled on leaving Thierry Perrier in the car in the wetter conditions for as long as possible, hop ing he would build up a comfortable margin over Jean-Luc Chereau.
Nigel Smith took the car over at 12:30 with a lead of one lap, which they hoped to maintain when reigning FIA N-GT champion Patrice Goueslard got back in the Larbre car.
The #80 Team Taisan Advan Porsche, victorious in 2000, suffered a rear right puncture shortly after 20 hour mark, but recovered to fifth position in the class, with Atsushi Yogo setting the cars fastest lap of the race in the damp conditions. The car is two laps down on the Larbre Competition car, and eight off the leader.
The second Seikel car - the #82 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, continues to occupy the sixth position, as they have for much of the race, with gentlemen drivers Bagnall, Cohen-Olivar and Burgess driving an extremely consistent race. They were followed by Dave Warnoc k in the #76 PK Sport car, which was causing a few worries around midday, as the car was out on wet tires on a drying track.
"The car behind us is on intermediates, and is taking a lot of time on us. Were not fighting for the podium, so it doesn't really matter but it would really suit us if it started to rain again. Almost on cue, the rain started," said Warnock.
The #74 Alphand Adventures car has made up time after a lengthy pit stop to change the clutch.
"The main thing is that were still in the race," the former ski champion Luc Alphand said. "This race is absolutely magical; you can't compare it to anything else. I did three and a half hours in the rain it was atrocious, worse than the Dakar, than any thing. Ill definitely be back!
The last car still running in class is the #79 Noel Del Bello Porsche.
"The car is suffering from overheating and is cutting out, Sylvain Noel explained when the car was in the pits. We're also trying to save some time our main objective is to get to the finish line. <pre> 24 Hours of Le Mans - GT Class Standings - After 15 Hours
#83 Rosa/Bambini/Drudi Porsche 911 GT3 RS 253 Laps #77 Jeannette/Dumas/Haezebrouck Porsche 911 GT3 RS 253 laps #75 Perrier/Neugarten/Smith Porsche 911 GT3 RS 247 laps #80 Chereau/Gouselard/Dumez Porsche 911 GT3 RS 246 laps #72 Fukuyama/Yogo/Nishizawa Porsche 911 GT3 RS 245 laps #82 Burgess/Cohen-Olivar/Bagnall Porsche 911 GT3 RS 244 laps #76 Youles/Day/Warnock Porsche 911 GT3 RS 237 laps #74 Alphand/Ligonnet/Marques Porsche 911 GT3 RS 236 laps #79 Noel/Forgeois/Jodexnis Porsche 911 GT3 RS 181 laps #70 Wagner/Rice/Mazzuoccola Callaway C12-R V8 Engine/overheating #71 Lingner/McAllister/Donovan Porsche 911 GT3 RS Crash