LM24 Hour 15: Corvette takes the lead in GTE Pro

Nine hours remain in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Corvette Racing’s sole remaining challenger for the GTE Pro class win has taken the lead in its class.

The window of opportunity opened when the No.92 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR had to undergo rapid emergency service to change all four brakes. Michael Christensen emerged in third, just behind the No.64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Tommy Milner, who was now chasing the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Alessandro Pier Guidi ahead of him.

The Ferrari and Corvette ran tail-to-nose for several laps, and the Porsche was just a second behind them. If this is really is the sunset of all-pro GT racing at Le Mans, what a view it is giving us: Milner grabbed the class lead from Pier Guidi on track by slipstreaming down the Mulsanne straight and powering past in the first chicane.

Just moments later, hearts stopped in the Porsche garage when Christensen overshot the Mulsanne corner and took a brief trip through the gravel, which took him out of the fight momentarily.

The Corvette and Ferrari made pit stops soon after, and a slow pit stop for the No.51 Ferrari enabled the No.64 Corvette to pull out a gap of nearly 20 seconds to the Ferrari, now in the hands of Daniel Serra.

Christensen, meanwhile, stayed out until the very end of this 15th hour of racing. He emerged from the pits 13 seconds behind the leading No.64 Corvette of Milner, and seven seconds ahead of the No.51 Ferrari of Serra in third.

There’s been no change at the head of the field in Hypercar – the No.7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID of Mike Conway still leads the No.8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi in second, and the No.709 Glickenhaus Racing SCG 007 LMH of Franck Mailleux in third.

The No.38 JOTA Oreca-07 Gibson still leads overall in LMP2, with Roberto Gonzalez at the wheel, and still leading comfortably from the No.9 Prema Orlen Team Oreca of Robert Kubica in second. Despite a collision with the lapped No.10 Vector Sport Oreca of Sebastien Bourdais, the No.31 WRT Oreca of Sean Gelael is still third in its class.

However, there’s been a change in the lead in LMP2 Pro-Am, which is now headed up by the rebuilt No.45 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of Rene Binder, James Allen, and Steven Thomas, who is currently at the wheel.

GTE Am continues to be led by the No.33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Ben Keating, who is nearing a pit stop at the start of the next hour. Keating leads fellow Bronze driver Thomas Merrill in the No.79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche by over 20 seconds, with the No.99 Hardpoint Motorsport Porsche of pro driver Alessio Picariello in third. Meanwhile, the No.59 Inception Racing Ferrari has retired due to a terminal drivetrain failure.