Hour 8:48, Safety Car #3: Well, the safety car procedure is still going.
Hour 8:18, Safety Car #3: With the Toyota's recovery suddenly complicated by electrical concerns and the track's many temporary barriers taking a beating after the last few hours of cars hitting them, a safety car has been called. This procedure should be faster than the 80-minute safety car we saw earlier in the race, hopefully.
Hour 8:10: Bad news in the Toyota camp. With an electrical error light flashing, Kamui Kobayashi is abandoning the No. 7 Toyota. That is the first retirement for Toyota in this race since 2017, the last year Toyota faced outside competition in this race.
Hour 8:08: Further replays indicate that the No. 66 Ferrari was actually hit by a second LMP2 car in the same crash that damaged the No. 7 Toyota. That car is still not yet identified, but it was something like a parallel crash at the same point of track as the No. 35 LMP2 car hit the Toyota and another P2 car, somehow, vaulted the No. 66 Ferrari into the air.
Hour 8:01: The No. 7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi is slow on track, just a few feet ahead of a smoldering No. 66 Ferrari. A replay shows the Toyota off to the side of the track as the Ferrari and the No. 35 LMP2 car made contact, with the Ferrari seemingly hitting the Toyota in the process of flying into the air. Seemingly, the crash occurred during the confusion as the three entered a slow zone. This will bring out a full-course yellow, which is a slow zone that encompasses the entire track rather than a safety car period.
The No. 7 Toyota has stopped on track three separate times since the incident before rolling slowly again.
Hour 8:00:The No. 51 Ferrari was recovered relatively quicky, but the car has fallen all the way down to fifth in the running order. The Peugeot leads the No. 7 Toyota, No. 50 Ferrari, and No. 2 Cadillac.
Hour 7:58: The No. 51 Ferrari is beached in the gravel after spinning under braking. That, you may note, was the overall race leader. Replays show a GTE-Am car spinning ahead of the Ferrari in the same spot.
The No. 94 Peugeot 9X8 now inherits the race lead.
Hour 7:49: After an hour and a half under darkness, the hypercar field is now really starting to string out. That makes what Peugeot is doing all the more impressive. The No. 94 9X8 is running second, around a minute behind the leading Ferrari but well ahead of the Toyota in third and Cadillac in fourth. Peugeot had been a step behind the other four hybrid OEMs throughout the week, but their lead car has come alive.
Hour 7:40: Amid some pretty desperate begging to the director to keep the on-board camera on Jimmie Johnson in it, the Garage 56 stock car has climbed back to an effective seventh in GTE-Am. That car has been extremely fast in dry weather, but has been moved around the field by the safety car procedure twice.
Of course, no matter where the Garage 56 car finishes in adjacency to them, the GTE-Am winner will win that class. The stakes for the stock car are bragging rights, but they would be fairly big to claim.
Hour 7:05: Major news in Hypercar: the No. 75 Penske Porsche 963 was unable to limp home on electric power and has been retired. That car had led for stretches and was running sixth when it suffered a sudden, still-undiagnosed mechanical issue. That is the first retirement in the Hypercar class today, but the No. 709 Glickenhaus car, the No. 38 Jota Porsche, the No. 4 Vanwall, and the No. 311 Cadillac are all multiple laps down after incidents of their own.
Hour 7:01: Kamui Kobayashi has the No. 7 Toyota in third, but he's just taken an interesting off-track excursion. He went off the track, and, rather than stop and turn around in the runoff area, he went onto a nearby roundabout, followed it all the way to his exit, and got back on track:
One of the reasons that @kamui_kobayashi is a world-class driver is that he was able to quickly recover from this incident and find his way back onto the track and into third place. pic.twitter.com/fepcCCh12y
— Bozi Tatarevic (@BoziTatarevic) June 10, 2023
Hour 6:52: The No. 75 Porsche is now 11th, rolling slowly along a runoff after having fallen one lap down. That car is far from home.
Hour 6:47: The No. 75 Penske Porsche, the highest-running Porsche 963, is stopped on track and rolling slowly. That's a mechanical or electrical issue.
Hour 6:26: A close call for the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R, which has spun in the Mulsanne hairpin. Driver Richard Westbrook is able to continue without an issue, but that should be a good indication of how rough the conditions are at the moment.
Hour 6:16: The No. 9 LMP2 car's suspension is visibly damaged. That car will need to undergo serious repairs. between that and the No. 28's earlier crash, that is the top two in class just twenty minutes ago now sitting in the garage.
Hour 6:13: An eventful race continues in LMP2, where the No. 9 Prema and No. 22 United Autosport cars both go off at Indianapolis. The No. 9, the leader in that class at the time, sees things go from disappointing to actually bad in an instant: that car is speared in the left-rear corner by a third LMP2 car to go off, the No. 923 Racing Team Turkey car.
The No. 100 Walkenhorst Ferrari GTE-Am car is also stuck int he gravel again. We have reached the point in the race where we're seeing repeat offenders.
Hour 6:11: Rain tires for the leading No. 51 Ferrari, with the entire Hypercar field following for the same change after another downpour in the Porsche curves.
A few cars are off in the corners on their way into the pit lane, including the No. 66 JMW Ferrari that had led in GTE-Am.
Hour 6:09: And now a disaster in LMP2, where the No. 28 Jota LMP2 car has spun into the wall in the Porshce curves. That car has led the class since the most recent safety car. Prema Racing's No. 9 entry now inherits that class lead.
Hour 6:01: As we enter the second quarter of the race, darkness obviously will make visibility a problem over the next 12 hours. That is about to be compounded quickly: that projected rain is already being reported around the track.
Hour 5:55: The No. 709 Glickenhaus car, the leading entry for SCG, is rolling slowly down the Mulsanne with a flat or missing tire. With the sun setting and the car running in the unlit portion of the track, cameras cannot quite make out which of the two the car has suffered.
More rain in the forecast in ten minutes. This time, the rain should come in sector 1, from the Dunlop curves to Tetre Rouge.
Hour 5:26: So far, the balance-of-performance changes made before this race could not be working out better. Five manufacturers are represented in the top six overall, and even the Peugeot that had struggled throughout the weekend is currently holding down third. Right now, every hybrid prototype in the field is a factor.
Hour 5:20: Are you tired of hearing about LMP2 cars beached in the gravel yet? Too bad! The No. 43 LMP2 car is beached in the gravel in the first Mulsanne chicane, which has been a hot spot all day.
The No. 72 Aston Martin GTE-Am car also had a little crash, spinning after making contact with a wall in the Porsche curves. That was almost a headline-maker, as the Aston was alongside one of the AF Corse Ferrari Hypercars as it hit the wall and came within a few feet of spinning into the overall win contender.
The battle for the lead in GTE-Am is the No. 911 Proton Porsche, the No. 85 Iron Dames Porsche, and the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari. Jota still leads in LMP2, thankfully avoiding the disasters of the team's Hypercar entry so far.
Hour 5:15: The No. 54 Porsche has re-joined the race, but that car has lost four laps. Unlike the No. 5 Porsche and No. 3 Cadillac earlier, that is a not-insignificant total and would not be wiped away by a safety car with a wave-around.
Hour 5:04: And that long run ahead of the Toyotas has come to an end. Loic Duval has been passed for second on track by the No. 8 Toyota, which is now running second on track behind the No. 75 Porsche.
Hour 5:00: After the No. 38's crash, the Ferraris have stopped and cycle out fifth and sixth. That shines a light on one of the best drives of the day: the No. 94 Peugeot, the one that inherited the lead due to the timing of a safety car only to lose it after choosing not to switch back to dry tires later in the safety car period, is still running in second among the group that had to pit immediately after the safety car and is currently holding off both Toyota GR010s on track. With the Ferraris stopping, Loic Duval has the wingless 9X8 second on track.
Hour 4:52: A disaster for the overall leader! The No. 38 Jota Porsche 963 is heavily damaged after driver Yifei Ye went off in the Porsche curves. The car made a sizable side impact with a tire barrier, instantly destroying both the engine cover and the rear wing structure. The front bodywork is also damaged, and a hard bounce over the kerbs on pit entry could have made the problem worse. That car is now behind the wall and being looked over.
Ye, effectively a junior factory-affiliated driver for Porsche, finds the wall after what had previously been a career stint. The Jota car had built a lead of fifteen seconds before the crash, the biggest of the race under green to date.
Hour 4:50: Drive-through penalty for the No. 5 Porsche for the safety car procedure mistake. That car is currently running fourth.
Hour 4:46: The Jota Porsche, meanwhile, is up to a 15-second lead on the fastest of the Ferraris. Jota also leads LMP2 by eight seconds over AF Corse, which is the Ferrari factory partner and the team in charge of their 499P program during race weekends.
Hour 4:40: The No. 6 Porsche is back in the pit lane, where it is getting a new rear wing assembly and, of course, a set of tires that are all inflated. That car lost a lap, but does not seem to be headed behind the wall.
And even bad news for Penske: the No. 5 Porsche is being investigated for improper passing of a GTE-Am car during yellow procedures. Not a great fifteen minutes for the factory team.
Hour 4:36: More misfortune for Penske: the No. 6 Porsche now has a flat right-rear tire on the exit of a Mulsanne chicane. That means a very, very long limp home with just three tires, more than half a lap of the 8.5-mile circuit.
Hour 4:30: The No. 75 Penske Porsche currently leads the group who stopped after the safety car to get back onto dry tires, but the team's lead car just had a huge scare: the No. 5 of Dane Cameron went off-track at the Porsche curves, hitting a promotional sign and losing second on track. Cameron now runs between the two Ferraris.
Hour 4:26: We have seen less than a quarter of this race, but through four and a half hours this race is as competitive as advertised. All four of Ferrari, Toyota, Cadillac, and Porsche have shown pace in the lead at different times, no driver has built a lead of more than ten seconds over the course of a stint, and the lone customer car in the field is currently leading its own factory competition. The actual on-track product has been a mess with all the crashes, spins, and safety car re-ordering, but the early signs suggest this should be a classic in the overall fight.
Hour 4:20: The No. 38 Jota Porsche takes second, then the lead. That customer car, oddly enough, has been the fastest of the four 963s through the opening hours. After a brief move back to the lead for the Peugeot, the No. 38 Jota car and No. 5 Penske Porsche are now first and second.
The Ferraris are up to fourth and fifth after an electric restart of their own, and the No. 94 is soon to be in their sights for third.
Hour 4:18: Back to green. A handful of Hypercars dive into the pit lanes for slicks, the group that was not able to get an effective free stop earlier in the safety car period. Peugeot No. 94 leads, with the No. 75 Penske Porsche second and No. 38 Jota Porsche third.
Hour 4:15, Safety Car #2: Well this sure is taking a long time, huh? We're on minute 80 of the safety car period. The target time should be closer to 30 minutes, if not 20.
Hour 4:05, Safety Car #2: That certainly was an interesting test of the new safety car procedure. After a 40-minute clean-up and a brief extension to rescue the No. 93 Peugeot, the wave-around procedure was, for whatever reason, only completed after the necessary work was done. The result is an hour-long safety car period. We should be going back to green flag racing in a few minutes here, but that took up a substantial portion of the race. It's no wonder that the Automobile Club l 'Ouest, the group that sanctions this race, has typically kept to slow zone procedures rather than safety cars even though the slow zones significantly alter the race.
Hour 3:50, Safety Car #2: After an extremely long recovery, the No. 93 Peugeot just lost a lap to the race leader That is a disastrous result for a simple spin.
Hour 3:45, Safety Car #2: A very unusual moment for the Ferraris running second and third, which have chosen to switch back to slick tires for the upcoming restart as the track has dried. A mistake with tires allocated to the wrong cars forced the team to make a very long stop, meaning that the No. 50 and No. 51 Ferraris have lost some time on track and fall to eighth and ninth. The No. 94 Peugeot still leads as a long safety car continues.
Another very unusual outcome for the No. 93 Peugeot, which spun on cold tires on exit of the Mulsanne hairpin. An unusual spin under safety car, and a disastrous moment for what is now a beached Peugeot.
Hour 3:23, Safety Car #2: We have no significant rainfall visible on the cameras, but the track is wet and standing water is visible at multiple points. Dry tires were definitely not going to work here.
Hour 3:15, Safety Car #2: The No. 94 Peugeot is the big winner of the timing of this safety car and will start from the lead when the race resumes. That car, which sends its electric power to the front wheels, has been the weakest of the five factory Hypercars all race in the dry but a powerhouse in our brief glimpse of wet-weather racing. The No. 38 Jota Porsche, both Ferraris, and the No. 2 Cadillac round out the top five, while the No. 8 Toyota that has led most of the race will resume from ninth.
Hour 3:05, Safety Car #2: Both Ferraris now pit for wet tires. Ultimately, that was just too big of a risk for too small of a reward as we enter hour four.
Hour 3:00, Safety Car #2: This safety car procedure will take a while, and the rain presents an interesting opportunity for a gamble: is it better to stay on track with slick tires and hope the safety car is lifted to a dry track, or switch onto wet tires and ensure you aren't at risk when the track is green again? Just about everyone else has already switched to wet tires, but the Ferraris are still out on track with dry tires. It is a great opportunity to grab track position, but a major risk for hour three of a 24-hour race.
Hour 2:54, Safety Car #2: With the No. 100 Ferrari stranded in the gravel and the No. 709 Gickenhaus Hypercar best described as crashed lightly in the Porsche curves, the safety car is out. The No. 3 Cadillac spins and taps the barrier without taking any visible damage, while the No. 86 GR Racing GTE-Am Porsche car spins into a barrier. That car was the leader in GTE-Am.
Those are all the crashes caught by the cameras in those corners, but more may have been impacted. A mess.
Hour 2:53: Now we enter an awkward situation, with heavy rain on just one section of the track and drivers effectively skating along a wet surface in those corners because a switch to full wet tires would not be worth the time lost. The Peugeot, Ferrari, and Toyota have an advantage here; all three send their hybrid power to the front wheels. That is generally a stylistic rather than performance difference, but it suddenly becomes much more notable in these conditions.
Hour 2:51: With both tire and fuel stints longer than in the past, differences in tire strategy will play a major part in how gaps change during pit stops over the remainder of the race.
Hour 2:45: As expected, we have some light rain in the Porsche curves. Not enough for anyone to go to wet tires, but enough to give any driver cause for concern on slicks. This is a famous trait of the 8-mile track here, and staying out of trouble when you catch a wet track on dry tires is a vital skill to have if you want to win this race.
Hour 2:39: The No. 22 United Autosports LMP2 car goes off track at the exit of Tetre Rouge, spins back on, and spears the No. 77 Proton GTE-Am Porsche. Both cars are heavily damaged, which should bring out another slow zone. The first two and a half hours of this race have been an absolute mess in those classes.
Hour 2:35: The No. 6 Porsche makes a scheduled stop from second, and it could not have come at a better time: that car had just reported a slow puncture and will now receive both a tire and a driver change. These cars are making their third stop about fifteen minutes after the No. 2 Cadillac, which will inherit the lead momentarily, had made its second.
Hour 2:33: Light rain is apparently coming in ten minutes. Given how the first two and a half hours of this race have gone, that could be a problem.
Hour 2:25: The No. 50 Ferrari is making up significant time on the road, moving from fifth to third on track in recent laps. That car is now pressuring the No. 38 Porsche for second, still 11 seconds behind the leading Toyota.
Hour 2:21: After that cycle of stops, the No. 8 Toyota's lead is ten seconds on the No. 38 Jota Porsche and No. 6 Penske Porsche. The No. 2 Cadillac leads the alternate strategy, about fifty seconds behind the leaders.
We have a crash in the Porsche Curves, where the No. 60 Iron Lynx GTE-Am Porsche has spun on its own and collected the No. 16 Proton GTE-Am Porsche. That should be another slow zone, but not a safety car.
Hour 2:14: The No. 2 Cadillac has stopped from the lead and, after missing the opportunity to stop in the slow zone along the start/finish line, has fallen back to 11th in class. The No. 5 and No. 75 Porsches will suffer a similar time penalty when they stop on the next lap, but those three cars will have half a stint of fuel on the No. 8 Toyota that will inherit the lead.
Hour 2:08: The Garage 56 stock car has had an uneventful race early, but that is a good thing. The special invitation car is running an effective fifth in its one-car battle against the entire GTE-Am field.
Hour 2:03: An impressive early run for Antonio Felix da Costa in the No. 38 Jota Porsche, which is running fifth after making its second stop early and will soon cycle up to second overall. That is the only entry in the entire Hypercar class that could be called a customer car and that team was forced to start at the back of the field after having an issue in qualifying.
Hour 1:57: Cadillac No. 2, Porsche No. 5, and Porsche No. 75 have all chosen to run a full second stint rather than take advantage of the earlier slow zone along the pit lane. The net result is that they will be nearly half a stint of fuel up on the competition, but will lose a ton of time on track to the contingent that pitted earlier led by the No. 8 Toyota.
The No. 3 Cadillac is back out on track, avoiding losing a lap. That, incredibly, means the car is effectively still in contention to win.
Hour 1:53: The No. 3 Cadillac has gone behind the wall and the driver has hopped out. A disastrous first two hours for that program, which has seen two of its three factory entries need early repairs for contact on track. This car, at least, should only lose a lap or two undergoing these repairs and diagnoses.
The Aston Martin that crashed in that incident is the No. 55 GMB Motorsports entry.
Hour 1:48: A very strange crash in the Dunlop Curves, where the No. 21 AF Corse GTE-Am Ferrari and an unseen GTE-Am Aston Martin have collided with the No. 3 Cadillac Hypercar. Cadillac driver Sebastien Bourdais spins after the contact, but continues with only visible rear bodywork damage. The Ferrari and Aston Martin GTE-Am cars are both stopped on the track with heavy damage. No good replay has been shown of the crash, and the broadcast has not yet identified which Aston Martin was involved in the crash.
Hour 1:45: The two Toyotas are among the drivers taking advantage of the slow zone to stop earlier in their second stint. The No. 8 Toyota, No. 6 Porsche, and No. 3 Cadillac lead the group that has stopped a second time in sixth. The No. 51 Ferrari leads those seeing this stint to its conclusion, but they will lose a lot of time in the pit lane if the slow zone is lifted before the end of their stint.
Hour 1:35: Another huge crash in LMP2: the No. 13 Tower Motorsports car, currently being driven by IMSA star Ricky Taylor, has spun into the outside wall on the Mulsanne. A slow zone is still active in the opening sector after the turn 1 cash for the No. 14, and this should lead to another.
The No. 33 Corvette is back on track, two laps behind the leading No. 56 Project 1 Porsche in GTE-Am.
Hour 1:33: More drama in GTE-Am, where the No. 98 Aston Martin is driving down the Mulsanne with the hood popped up. Something has gone wrong there, either a result of the car hitting something or the hood latch failing.
Hour 1:30: The No. 50 Ferrari and No. 3 Cadillac, the cars running together on track in first and second on an alternate strategy, have both stopped. Those cars are now about half a stint of fuel off the pace of the rest of the class, but both have been extremely quick on track. Toyota No. 8 inherits the race lead.
Hour 1:28: A huge impact for the No. 14 Nielsen Racing LMP2 car, which lost control heading through the first section of the track while being overtaken by the Hypercar leaders. That car has lost its entire right-front suspension corner, but driver Rodrigo Sales is still rolling with the remaining three tires. That has led to a slow zone in the opening sector, but not a safety car as barrier repairs are not necessary.
The issue for the Corvette is in the right-front damper, which is being repaired now.
Hour 1:26: Huge twist in GTE-Am, where the pole-sitting No. 33 Corvette Racing entry is behind the wall with an unknown mechanical issue. That car's hood is removed, which, as you may note, is not the engine bay on a C8-generation Corvette.
Meanwhile, the No. 311 Cadillac has re-joined the race after significant repairs. That car is 16 laps down.
Hour 1:22: The battle for fourth is between five cars from four manufacturers. The No. 7 Toyota, which has charged from tenth to eighth, is pressuring the No. 75 and No. 6 Porsches for sixth just half a second behind the battle between the No. 51 Ferrari and No. 3 Cadillac for fourth. With the No. 50 Ferrari and No. 3 Cadillac off-cycle on fuel, that is the battle for second among cars with a fuel advantage.
Hour 1:17: Ferrari No. 50 leads after stopping much earlier than most of its competitors. The No. 3 Cadillac, which stopped halfway through the last stint, is running second. Toyota No. 8 leads the group on the primary strategy in third, with the No. 51 Ferrari, No. 2 Cadillac, and No. 75 Porsche behind. The No. 7 Toyota is all the way down to tenth.
Hour 1:12: Toyota No. 8 stops from the lead, 15 laps into a stint after some substantial time spent behind the safety car. Cadillac No. 2, Peugeot No. 93, and Porsche No. 75 are also all stopping here. That means Ferrari No. 51, Porsche No. 6, and Porsche No. 5 will be stopping next lap. The No. 38 Porsche has a few laps of additional fuel on board after stopping behind the safety car and should pit another lap or two after the rest of the leaders.
Toyota No. 7 stopped a lap earlier and has come out behind the No. 94 Peugeot, No. 3 Cadillac, and No. 50 Ferrari that had all stopped already.
Hour 1:03: The No. 75 Porsche is the first of the three Penske-run 963s to pass the No. 7 Toyota, which is struggling on softer tires. That is, notably, the first time an LMDh-spec car has passed one of the LMH-spec Toyotas or Ferraris in this race. Two other Porsches, a Cadillac, and a surprisingly strong Peugeot are all together on track, with the second Peugeot and the lone customer Porsche from Jota Sport catching up quickly.
Hour 1:01: The No. 51 Ferrari finally has a second's worth of space on the rest of the Hypercar field, but it is still five seconds behind the leading Toyota. A strong early stint for Toyota's Sebastian Buemi.
Hour 0:57: The No. 51 Ferrari is now clear to what is second on the track, wand now all three factory Porsches are putting pressure on the No. 7 Toyota. That car is fading on softer tires. The good news for Toyota is that the No. 8, which had previously reported some braking issues, has a comfortable cushion on the entire field.
Hour 0:55: The No. 50 Ferrari is the first car of the race to stop. That is a very early stop for the team, which is stopping for fuel only.
Hour 0:52: A diving move into the second Mulsanne chicane does not give the No. 50 Ferrari second, but another move into the Mulsanne hairpin does. The No. 51 Ferrari remains in fourth, with zero separation between these three cars. The three have burned a sizeable gape to the Porsche contingent, which will be joining the fight now.
Hour 0:49: The closest battle on track is for second overall. The No. 8 Toyota is holding off both Ferraris, but the No. 51 Ferrari in fourth is putting constant pressure on the No. 50 in third. The three have a gap on the fifth-placed No. 75 Porsche and the two other factory 963s behind it.
Hour 0:43: The No. 7 Toyota has passed the No. 50 Ferrari for second in the run-up to Indianapolis. That's now a 1-2 for Toyota.
Hour 0:40: Back to green. The No. 311 Cadillac remains in the garage.
Hour 0:35, Safety Car #1: You have not missed anything, the safety car is still ongoing.
Hour 0:12, Safety Car #1: Surprising news early from Toyota: leading driver Sebastian Buemi is reporting a braking assistance issue in the No. 8 car, which could suggest either a brake-by-wire problem or an issue with the braking regeneration that keeps the hybrid system charged.
The No. 38 Jota-run Porsche 963, the only Hypercar to start behind the GTE-Am field after a mechanical issue in practice-qualifying, pits alongside a few LMP2 competitors and has effectively taken a free pit stop on the rest of the field. With so much of the day's early running under safety car, that should not provide a major fuel economy advantage.
Hour 0:04, Safety Car #1: The safety car is out on lap 1 to repair the barriers where the Cadillac hit the wall and the debris left behind after the car's long limp home. A replay shows that Aitken's rear tires broke loose under acceleration on the slightly damp track, snapping the car sideways before Aitken landed in the wall.
Before the safety car came out, the No. 8 Toyota was able to pass both Ferraris to take the overall lead. Ferrari No. 50 has been able to hold second, with Toyota No. 8 in third and Ferrari No. 51 in fourth.
The No. 32 Inter Europol LMP2 car is also stranded in the sand and should be recovered during the stoppage.
Hour 0:02: An early disaster for the No. 311 Action Express Racing Cadillac of Jack Aitken, which has hit the outside wall on the exit of the first Mulsanne chicane. That car has serious bodywork damage and a destroyed left-front suspension corner, but Aitken is still rolling and should be able to get it home for repairs. In another race, that's the end; here, this is just the beginning of a long day. An Audi R18 once won this race after a hit like that, and Cadillac will be hoping the No. 311 can get back into contention, too.
Hour 0:01: The race is underway. The Ferraris are away in first and second, but there is contact in a battle for third between the No. 8 Toyota and No. 75 Porsche. Both cars get away clean, with the Toyotas running third and fourth. One Peugeot and one Cadillac go off in the opening corner, but neither seems to have taken any damage. On a slightly wet track, the next half-lap will be a major challenge.
After failing to fire when the command to fire engines was given by grand marshal LeBron James, the No. 43 DKR Engineering Prototype has been forced to start from the back of the field. The No. 708 Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 007 has started from the pit lane after undergoing a minor transmission repair.
Pre-race: After two years of build-up, the 100th anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans is here.
In the headlining Hypercar class, Ferrari has shown impressive speed throughout a week of testing, practice, and qualifying. Their No. 50 starts from pole after a sensational lap from Antonio Fuoco on Thursday, part of a front row lockout for the new 499P racer. Toyota may still be the pre-race favorite, even after balance-of-performance changes have blunted their GR010's pace advantage; that team has yet to lose a World Endurance Championship race this season.
Porsche and Cadillac each start one of their new LMDh-spec prototypes on the front three rows alongside the Toyotas. Each is already a winner in IMSA competition. Peugeot's wingless 9X8 is supposed to be a Le Mans specialist, and, while qualifying pace has been disappointing, the program still has hope that it can stay in the mix when reliability becomes a problem for others. Two private entries, from boutique manufacturer Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and the Colin Kolles-run Vanwall, round out the class.
LMP2, the most competitive class in this race over the past few years, is in its final season as a full-time World Endurance Championship category. IDEC Sport leads from pole, with Porsche Hypercar customers Jota in second and 2024 BMW factory partners WRT starting from third.
With the elimination of GTE-Pro, GTE-Am is the only GT class in this year's race. Corvette Racing's factory entry will start from pole ahead of an Aston Martin from ORT by TF after a masterful pole lap by pro-am driver Ben Keating.
While it is not running against any specific competition, the field is rounded out by a NASCAR-style Camaro fielded by Hendrick Motorsports. That Garage 56 entry has been faster than the entire GTE-Am field throughout the weekend, and an informal competition between it and the GT cars will be something to watch throughout the race.
Pace laps have begun. The new era is here.
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