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24H Le Mans

Kobayashi Leads as Porsche, Aston Martin Hit Trouble in Hour 4

No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid in the garage and out of contention…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Kamui Kobayashi continues to lead the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota with one-sixth of the race now complete following an hour that saw Porsche and Aston Martin Racing both hit trouble.

Porsche managed to get its No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid up into second place at the fourth round of pit stops, with Nick Tandy moving ahead of Anthony Davidson, who struggled for pace throughout his stint in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

While Tandy remains over half a minute back from Kobayashi after the fifth round of stops, completed just before the four-hour mark, it was nevertheless an important gain for Porsche to make in breaking Toyota’s stranglehold at the front.

The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid’s hopes of also getting in the mix were dashed midway through the fourth hour when Earl Bamber experienced a loss of drive on his car due to a problem on the front axle.

The Kiwi got back to the pits before Porsche wheeled the car back into the garage and put it up on jacks. At the time of writing, the car continues to be serviced, having spent half an hour in the pits.

With Porsche’s No. 2 car hitting trouble, Vaillante Rebellion Racing was able to move into the top five overall as it continued to lead LMP2, with David Heinemeier-Hansson leading in the No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson ahead of the sister No. 31 car, piloted by Julien Canal at the turn of the hour.

Porsche was not the only manufacturer to hit trouble in the fourth hour, with Aston Martin Racing suffering a big setback in its chase for class honors in GTE-Pro.

After taking over from fellow Dane Nicki Thiim in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage towards the end of the second hour, Marco Sorensen managed to build on the lead he inherited over the sister No. 97 Aston Martin, enjoying an advantage of 12 seconds at one stage.

Coming down the Mulsanne Straight, Sorensen suffered a left-rear puncture on his car, forcing him to slow to a crawl. With a large distance to make it back to the pit lane, the former GP2 racer dropped all the way to the back of the class, spurning a strong position.

Sorensen’s demise threw the lead in GTE-Pro over to Daniel Serra in the second Aston Martin, who was being hounded by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Harry Tincknell in the No. 67 Ford GT.

The battle between the two cars continued following the second set of full services that saw the No. 66 Ford GT also come into the mix, jumping into the class lead with Billy Johnson thanks to an off-piste strategy. Jonny Adam currently runs second in the No. 97 Aston Martin, with Pipo Derani third after taking over from Tincknell.

GTE-Am sees Dries Vanthoor currently lead for JMW Motorsport in the No. 84 Ferrari 488 GTE, with the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE just 2.4 seconds back in the hands of Mathias Lauda.

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.


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