LM24 Hour 17: No.7 Toyota maintains its advantage

Another clean hour at the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours has been completed, with no changes for the lead in any of the classes. As the race prepares to enter the home stretch, it’s the No. 7 Toyota leading in LMP1, the pair of Team WRT entries in LMP2, and AF Corse-backed Ferrari 488s leading in GTE Pro and GTE Am.

The No. 8 Toyota ran into trouble at the start of the race, but the No. 7 Toyota still has the lead on merit. When Kobayashi’s mistake during the night dropped the car down to second, the No.7 team was able to claw back the lead, and has extended that advantage to nearly two minutes. This year is likely the strongest the No. 7 Toyota has ever looked at Le Mans – especially in comparison to the other Toyota.

The battle for third overall is going to be an interesting one as the clock winds down. The No. 709 Glickenhaus 007 held onto third near the end of the hour before making its pitstop and rejoining the track just 0.2s of a second behind the No. 36 Alpine. Depending on how the stagger unwinds, Glickenhaus could be on its way to a debut-podium finish.

The only incident in the hour involved the No. 72 Hub Auto Racing Porsche which went straight through the gravel at the Dunlop Bridge. Dries Vanthoor got out of the car, looked around, and got back in as the car was lifted off the track. It was not clear what the issue was, or if the car will be able to continue.

With no major changes, it’s a good opportunity to look further down the order for other developing stories. The No. 34 Inter Europol Competition ORECA is currently in fifth in LMP2 and has quietly risen through the ranks. Just behind is the No. 23 United Autosports ORECA which, despite being T-boned by its sister car, are still running in a respectable sixth place.

Callum Illot, the 22-year-old Ferrari Formula 1 prospect, successfully completed his stint this morning in the No. 80 Iron Lynx Ferrari that is currently third in GTE Am.

The No. 84 Association SRT41 ORECA running as the Garage 56 entry this year has had a great run. The team, which consists of two paraplegics, has kept out of trouble and has a clean car with seven hours to run. It is currently 36th overall and in the midst of the GTE Am – partly because the driver changes require the car to be wheeled into the garage to accommodate the drivers. A solid result isn’t nearly as important as getting to the end of the race for them, however.