At the half race mark, Iron Dames continue their charge to get back in the GTE-Am top ten after the first hour puncture; Lilou Wadoux settles into P12 after her second double-stint and Sophia Floersch starts her third driving shift.
Mid-race point at the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hours: the night is now in its peak hours, as drivers and teams try to survive the toughest part of the race with no mistakes.
The #8 and #7 Toyotas continue to dominate the overall race, with Brandon Hartley having a 20 second margin over the sister car of Kamui Kobayashi, after there were some tense moments during the ninth hour when the #7 of Buemi got ahead of the #8 during a round of pit stops. In the hands of Brandon Hartley, though, positions were restored.
The #709 Glickenhaus holds third place while, after the accident involving the #708, the #38 JOTA Oreca leads LMP2 and is fourth overall. Lapierre/Vaxiviere and Negrao are P23 in class and behind most of the LMP2 field.
The #36 Alpine is having a nightmare of a race after a series of technical failures.
Having dropped to fifth at one point, the #9 Prema Orlen of Kubica-Deletraz-Colombo is back in second place – as the Italian team at its Le Mans debut is battling with the #31 WRT for position. Louis Deletraz overtook Sean Gelael for second in the tenth hour – but the leading #38 JOTA seems unreachable.
A few LMP2 cars hit trouble in the last four hours: the #41 WRT spun and got stuck in the gravel, while the #83 AF Corse spent time in the garage. The #27 CD Sport LMP2 lost a wheel just at the mid-race mark, likely due to a hub failure.
The #47 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of Sophia Floersch is still trying to make up for the time lost on the first lap, when an overheating issue damaged the gearbox and the Portuguese squad had to fix a gear actuator, losing 5 laps.
Floersch completed two double-stints so far and, together with Jack Aitken and John Falb, they cleared the GTE field and made it back to P30 overall after dropping to P62 on the opening lap of the race. The German is currently back on track for her third shift of the day.
“It was a disappointing start to the race for Sophia, John and I, and we pretty much accepted that we’re never going to gain five laps back on the main LMP2 field on pace alone.” – Aitken commented.
“We’re slowly clawing our way back towards the pack, we’ve regained one lap on our Pro-Am rivals and we’re working on the second”, he added. “Everything’s going ok now so we’re just going to keep doing the laps.”
Lilou Wadoux completed her first run at the six hour mark and handed over to Sebastien Ogier after 1 hour and 40 minutes on track. The #1 Richard Mille Racing Oreca was up to P3 in the opening hours, before Charles Miles was handed a penalty for crossing the white line at the pit entry which cost them 1 minute of stop and go penalty. With some impressive passes, Milesi brought the car back in the top ten but the Richard Mille Racing’s crew have now settled in P12.
With 11 hours and 20 hours down, Lilou Wadoux has climbed back in the LMP2 prototype for the second time in the race.
She completed a 30 minute stint and is currently back on track in P12.
It was disaster for Corvette Racing, as Antonio Garcia had a puncture but spent over 20 laps in the garage for repairs. The sister #64 also ran into troubles earlier, and is now fourth in LMGTE-Pro, behind the Porsche of Laurens Vanthoor and the AF Corse Ferrari driven by James Calado.
Michael Christensen then had a spin in the leading Porsche, but retained the lead.
The WeatherTech Racing Porsche and the Hardpoint/Absolute Racing Porsches returned to the top of the GTE-Am standings after leading the race in the opening laps. The Aston Martin Racing cars of Chaves (TF Sport) and Thiim (Northwest AMR) continue to battle for the third step of the podium. Some of the previous contenders have dropped down – as did Iron Dames after only 3 laps into the race.
After a sterling qualifying, in fact, Michelle Gatting picked up a puncture on lap 3 and dropped to the back of the class field. With a superb team effort, Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy steadily continued to move up the order throughout the first half of the race. Rahel Frey briefly made it in the top 10 in the tenth hour, before she pitted for a driver change to Sarah Bovy.
The Belgian – who had a contact when she was hit by a LMP2 car but managed to avoid damage – was back out in P12. With more great stints by all the drivers, Michelle is now sitting P11, with pace for the top-6.
The early problem might have made their race more difficult, but with half a race still to run, everything is to play for and a top 10 seems more feasible as laps go by.