Le Mans 24H: 16H update – Lilou Wadoux breaks in the LMP2 Top-10
With eight hours to go, Lilou Wadoux and Richard Mille Racing's teammates are running in the LMP2 top-ten after a great recovery from an early penalty; Iron Dames are also on the doorsteps of the top-10 in GTE-Am and Sophia Floersch recovered one place in LMP2 ProAm.
At the half-race mark, Lilou Wadoux had just started her second stint at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, after she first got behind the wheel of the #1 Richard Mille Racing Oreca approximately six hours into the race – and as the light was setting. The young Frenchwoman had her first nighttime session in racing conditions and performed well, maintaining P12 after Charles Milesi had recovered in the previous hours from a one minute penalty for crossing the white line at pit entry.
Wadoux was briefly under pressure from the WRT of Ineichen, but all went smoothly for the young woman as she pitted and handed over to Sebestien Ogier in 12th place in LMP2 class. The team has recovered to P9, with Milesi currently at the wheel.
Sophia Floersch took on the #47 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca from John Falb around the 12 hour mark. After the incredibly unfortunate technical issue that halted her LMP2 car right at the start of the race and cost them 5 laps, Floersch-Aitken-Falb were never given the chance to prove they belong to the top five in class.
Under the drive of John Falb, the #47 gained ground before Floersch and Aitken were able to navigate through the GTE classes. During the night, Floersch did a quadruple stint and, together with her teammates, she gained back a lap to their ProAm rivals and closed in on the LMP2 entries.
“I did a quadruple stint towards the end of the night, stepping out of the car at around daybreak", she explained. "It was a tough one with all the slow zones, but I’m pleased we survived the night ad we’re still trying hard to gain back the laps we lost in the first ten minutes of the race”
"The motivation hasn’t lessened but the goals have changed, because rather than targeting a podium finish in LMP2 ProAm it’s now all about making up a many places as possible and not finishing last.” – she stated.
“Algarve Pro Racing has worked incredibly hard all week and it’s really sad that out car had the failure at the start, but it’s racing at the end of the day”.
Iron Dames also had to put in an extraordinary effort to climb the field after a puncture on lap 3 that compromised their race. Still, with their usual determination and grit, they all pushed through the night and gained positions.
At the eight hours time, Iron Dames were back into P18. With great pace from Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey, they managed to get at the edge of the top 10 after 12 hours of racing.
Rahel Frey brought the #85 Ferrari within the top ten for the first time in the eleventh hour, when the Swiss racer was briefly tenth before handing over to Sarah Bovy. From then on, they ran from 11th to 12th.
In the overall race, Toyota took the lead into Turn 1 on lap 1 and never looked back. The #7 and #8 cars often traded places – such as when Ryo Hirakawa moved into the lead at mid-race ahead of the sister car of Kamui Kobayashi, but positions were soon reversed when Conway and Buemi got back behind the wheel. Into the 15th hour of racing, the two Toyotas enjoyed a gap of 4 laps to the third placed #709 Glickenhaus. Both the American hypercars had troubles but the #709 managed to make it back into third overall and precedes the #38 JOTA Oreca LMP2.
In the closing minutes of the 15th hour, the overall race leader José Maria Lopez came to a halt on track but the #7 Toyota got back underway after instructions from the team. The stop, though, cost him over a minute to the new race leader, Brendon Hartley.
The #708 Glickenhaus slipped behind most of the LMP2 field but has since then recovered to P6 overall, behind the #9 Prema LMP2.
There was more drama for the #36 Ultimate LMP2 of Jean Baptiste Lahaye after the French driver hit the barriers at the Porsche curves, smashing into a polystyrene board and scattering debris all over the track. Sophia Floersch was skilled to avoid the accident happening just in front of her.
At the same time, the Inception Racing Ferrari came to a halt on track and had to retire. That meant that Rahel Frey was back in the top ten for Iron Dames – but once the Swiss ace pitted to hand over to Sarah Bovy, the Dames were back to eleventh.
The light of the day made its way onto the spectacular Circuit de La Sarthe.
The battle for the win in GTE-Pro got heated once again when the leading #92 Porsche pitted for new brakes, handing over first place to the Corvette of Tommy Milner and the Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi – as three cars in close proximity. Despite a trip to the gravel, Christensen was able to move into second in class – but a big lockup caused the damaged tyre to rip off the front end of the #92 Porsche.
A Porsche 1-2 lead GTE-Am since the early stages was broken in the 15th hour; the WeatherTech Porsche preceded the Hardpoint/Absolute Racing Porsche and the two Aston Martins operated by TF Sport and Northwest AMR – but Ben Keating (TF Sports) was able to snatch second from Haryanto. Furthermore, a spin at high speed by Thomas Merrill (WeatherTech Racing) dropped him to third, as Ben Keating found himself in the lead.
With eight hours and a half to go, the GR Racing’s of Ben Barker spun in the gravel at the Porsche curves, but was able to rejoin after a trip to the pitlane and retained seventh in class.
With another long stint, Rahel Frey tried to catch up with the cars in front and passed the baton to Sarah Bovy as we enter the 16th hour of racing.
Iron Dames sit in P11 in GTE-Am, Lilou Wadoux’s Richard Mille Racing team is P9 in LMP2 and Sophia Floersch has made up one position following issues for the #35 Ultimate Oreca which promoted them to P24 in LMP2, P7 in ProAm.