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Race report
Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Le Mans 24h, H15: Heavy rain neutralises race behind safety car

Despite the arrival of daylight at the Le Mans 24 Hours, heavy rain means that the race has been neutralised for over the last three hours.

Safety Car on track

As the race entered its second half, incessant rainfall meant that the race director kept the safety car out for an extended period. Each of the three safety cars being used had to be refuelled, and were swapped out with fresh ones on the start/finish straight.

The #2 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R – which was third at the halfway point – took a nose change that meant IndyCar champion Alex Palou tumbled back to ninth.

Besides that, there were barely any major changes in race order across the three hours since the conclusion of hour 12.

Leader Brendon Hartley (Toyota #8) complained of cramping in his knee, as he trundled around at the head of the field at the soaked Circuit de la Sarthe. Kevin Estre ran second in the #6 factory-entered Porsche, a tantalising 1.5s behind the car he had been chasing hard when the rain intensified to the point that the race director made his decision to neutralise the event.

Hartley handed over the leading car to Ryo Hirakawa in hour 15, as Estre relayed to Laurens Vanthoor.

Nyck de Vries was running third in the #7 Toyota but was under investigation for rejoining behind the same safety car, ahead of the #50 Ferrari 499P of Niklas Nielsen. De Vries was brought back in for an extra stop, to self-rectify the error, but that cost him a spot to Nielsen.

Safety car

Safety car

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Earlier leader Robert Kubica is up to fifth in the #83 Ferrari from fellow ex-F1 racer Jenson Button in the #38 Jota Porsche 963.

Alex Lynn is in the best-placed Cadillac, the #2 machine he took over from Palou, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi’s #51 Ferrari, the #3 Cadillac of Sebastien Bourdais and Matt Campbell’s #5 Porsche.

Further back, Mathieu Jaminet has no working windscreen wiper aboard the #6 Porsche 963, so he’s been driving with limited visibility.

The best example of how wet the conditions were was Romain Grosjean’s leaky #19 Lamborghini SC63, which runs in 14th.

 

In LMP2, the #183 AF Corse Oreca leads the way in Francois Perrodo’s hands from Cool Racing’s #37 with Lorenzo Fluxa behind the wheel, ahead of Jakub Smiechowski’s #34 Inter Europol entry and Stephane Richelmi’s #10 Vector Sport car.

In the LMGT3 class, the #92 Manthey PureRxing Porsche 911 of Aliaksandr Malykhin leads the #91 sister car driven by Yasser Shahin.

Ian James has risen to third in Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin from Iron Dames’ Lamborghini, which has Sarah Bovy at the wheel.

More rain is forecast for the coming hours.

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