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Third-Placed Alpine Loses Ground after Vaxiviere Spin

Alpine spin expands Toyota’s lead and brings Glickenhaus into podium mix…

Image: ACO

A spin for Matthieu Vaxiviere at the first Mulsanne chicane resulted in the third-placed Alpine A480 Gibson losing ground at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with just over seven hours completed.

Vaxiviere lost control in the braking zone for the right-left-right chicane, resulting in his car skidding into the mid-corner gravel.

The incident enabled Pipo Derani to assume third place aboard the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo LMH that the Brazilian shares with Olivier Pla and Franck Mailleux.

Although Durrani needed to pit shortly afterward, bringing the LMP2 leader back into the top-three, the highest-placed Glickenhaus remains in the podium mix.

The manner in which Vaxiviere’s spin played out resembled an earlier first-chicane accident for GTE-Am driver Egidio Perfetti, who ended up striking the escape road tire barriers to trigger the fourth safety car period so far during the sixth hour.

Perfetti was followed into the tire wall by Felipe Fraga, who managed to free his TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE to carry on running.

Jose Maria Lopez led his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Kazuki Nakajima by more than a minute after seven hours.

Hours six and seven involved plenty of drama, as a brief return of rainfall caused a handful of incidents and prompted the top-three to adopt intermediate tires.

The third safety car period of the race occurred in hour six when Manuel Maldonado’s No. 32 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson sped through the inside gravel at Dunlop and clattered the sister No. 23 United LMP2 driven by Paul di Resta who was second in class.

At the same time, LMP2 front-runner Franco Colapinto had a collision with Sophia Floersch whose Richard Mille Racing Oreca stopped on track on the approach to Porsche and was subsequently hit by a braking Racing Team India Eurasia Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

The No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid remained ahead of its sister No. 8 car through both of the most recent safety car interventions, despite losing around 50 seconds waiting at pit exit for the next safety car train to arrive following its seventh-hour pit stop.

Both Toyotas and the Alpine returned to slick Michelin tires after a single stint on the intermediate compound.

Vaxiviere’s off-track moment, which marked the Alpine’s first major setback of the race, dropped it to eighth overall and behind the top-four LMP2 cars.

Team WRT emerged in a one-two position in the largely Oreca-based LMP2 category with Ferdinand Habsburg battling Louis Deletraz heading into the late evening.

United Autosports’ No. 22 car, which races full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship, became the defending winning team’s lead entry after its other two came to blows.

Panis Racing, Inter Europol Competition and the No. 28 JOTA entry have also been vying for the provisional podium positions.

Ferrari led the GTE-Pro category after seven hours, but its early one-two had been interrupted by the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.

Corvette’s Nicky Catsburg was laying down a chase to leader James Calado, with Miguel Molina a further 40 seconds back in the third-placed Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

The No. 52 Ferrari that Molina shares with Sam Bird and Daniel Serra incurred a brief setback when Bird was spun around by the GTE-Am Inception Racing 488.

GTE-Am has turned into a one-two for Ferrari customers, with the No. 83 AF Corse crew holding a narrow lead over the No. 80 Iron Lynx entry.

Alessio Rovera and Callum Ilott battled in the eighth hour, with Fraga aiming to hunt them down in the TF Sport Aston Martin that went off at the first chicane earlier on. 

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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