Sunday, Jun 18 09:43pm
AUTHOR: Matthew Hansen

Race leaders capitulate at Le Mans, Hartley and Bamber in contention

With less than four hours left to go, the #1 Porsche 919 LMP1 Hybrid that's led the majority of today's 24 Hours of Le Mans has stopped while holding a comfortable 13-lap race lead. 


With Andre Lotterer behind the wheel, the dominant car ran into a mystery issue linked to a loss of oil pressure while stranded miles away from pit entry. Lotterer commenced a lap of the circuit at a crawl, a maximum speed of 28km/h, until coming to a stop with 3 hours and 40 minutes left to go.


Lotterer technically held the lead of the race for a few minutes longer, but was removed from the timing screens shortly after. 


The failure now plunges Porsche's second entry, driven by Kiwis Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, plus Timo Bernhard, into the lead of LMP1, third overall, and a position where they could challenge for overall victory.


Having lost more than an hour to the leaders following an axle issue early in the race, the trio have spent most of the race in comeback mode. Along the way, all three of Toyota's leading LMP1 machines encountered turmoil of their own. And now with the lead Porsche encounting issues too, the second Porsche is now the lead LMP1 car by some 10 laps. 


The situation now for the #2 Porsche is that they have three laps to catch up to the race leaders. With Hartley currently behind the wheel, they sit in third overall. 


Separating Hartley from the lead are a pair of LMP2 machines, led by the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing machine currently driven by 19-year-old rookie Thomas Laurant. 


Photo: Porsche