LE MANS, France — Just as they did at the one-quarter mark, Kamui Kobayashi and Toyota Gazoo Racing found themselves in command at the 12 hour benchmark of the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Kobayashi and the No. 6 held the lead by 45 seconds over the pole-winning No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas, with the sister No. 5 Toyota Prototype of Anthony Davidson the only other car on the lead lap in third.
The No. 8 Audi R18 has risen to fourth under the guidance of Oliver Jarvis, with Rebellion Racing’s No. 13 R-One AER rounding out the overall and LMP1 top five.
In LMP2, Gustavo Menezes took the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan to the lead as the dominant car in the class — the No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05-Nissan of Mathias Beche — pitted right at the halfway mark of the endurance classic. The battle is 13 laps off the overall lead, and the duo are the only two cars on the lead lap in class.
Matteo Malucelli replicated his six-hour lead in GTE-Pro at the halfway mark, leading in the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE and keeping the pair of Chip Ganassi Racing Team USA Ford GTs at bay as they ran into penalty issues on the pit lane.
Both the No. 69 of Ryan Briscoe and the No. 68 of Joey Hand were held at the end of pit lane after they pitted under safety car conditions, dropping them back to 48 and 113 seconds, respectively, behind the class lead but still in contention for victory on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s historic 1966 overall win at Le Mans.
The top runner remained the same in GTE-Am as well, with the No. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche of Khaled al Qubaisi leading Townsend Bell’s No. 52 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.
Quadruple amputee Frederic Sausset continues to compete in the Garage 56 entry, the No. 41 SRT41 by Oak Racing Morgan Nissan, running in 36th position just before pitting for service two minutes after halfway. The machine has run 158 laps to date.
The biggest slowdown of the second quarter came at the end of the 10th hour, when Kevin Estre’s No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR lost a motor and dropped a massive amount of oil at the Porsche Curves. That incident required extensive cleanup before the race was able to resume in hour 11.
Of note, the race-contending No. Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley spent more than an hour behind the pit wall with overheating issues, but could only complete one lap upon its return before heading back to the paddock. The car eventually rejoined the race, but sits 37 laps in arrears to the leaders in 49th on the overall leaderboard.
The No. 66 Ford GT was in podium contention with Olivier Pla before losing a lap with electrical problems. It was wheeled into the garage shortly after, but quickly returned to the race track and crossed halfway seventh in class.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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