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24H Le Mans

Clutch Problems Force Race-Leading Toyota Out in Hour 10

Kamui Kobayashi retires race-leading No. 7 Toyota in Hour 10…

Photo: John Dagys

Toyota’s hopes of a maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans victory took a major blow in Hour 10, as the race-leading No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid was struck down with clutch issues. 

Entering his 154th lap shortly after a Safety Car to clear gravel from the circuit, Kamui Kobayashi suddenly slowed with the car stuck in first gear. The Japanese driver attempted to bring the car back to the pits, but came to a halt before the Porsche Curves. 

Nick Tandy in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid now has a clear advantage of a lap over the third Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre, which made a scheduled pit stop just before the hour mark. 

Earl Bamber will inherit third in class in the No. 2 Porsche, which runs 18 laps down in 21st overall after a hybrid problem.

Vaillante Rebellion has taken advantage of the high attrition rate in LMP1 to take third overall with its LMP2-leading No. 31 Oreca 07-Gibson. 

Nicolas Prost has a 9 second lead over team-mate Mathias Beche, with the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Thomas Laurent a further 30 seconds behind in third. 

The Safety Car was caused when Olivier Pla spun the No. 66 Ford GT at Indianapolis and scattered gravel all over the circuit after rejoining. 

Ford’s problems were exacerbated by a downshift issue for the No. 67 car which resulted in a lengthy five minute pitstop and a drive-through penalty for a pitlane violation. 

Once racing resumed, Aston Martin held first and second in GTE-Pro, with Daniel Serra in the No. 95 Vantage GTE leading Marco Sorensen in the No. 97, which has recovered from a puncture in Hour 4.

JMW Motorsport benefitted from making a ninth scheduled stop just before the Safety Car to pull out a three minute lead over the TF Sport Aston Martin. 

James Newbold (@James_Newbold) is a UK-based freelance motorsport journalist. A graduate of Politics and International Relations, James is also the editor of Autosport Performance.


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