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Van der Linde Leads Opening Hour of Virtual 24H Le Mans

WRT’s Kelvin van der Linde leads Vandoorne, Verstappen after one hour of virtual racing…

Photo: Xynamic

Kelvin van der Linde led the opening hour of the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans for E-Team WRT after pole-sitter Tom Dillmann received a penalty for jumping the start.

Dillmann’s overzealous getaway in the No. 4 ByKolles Burst Esport Oreca 07 was met with a drive-through, which dropped the Frenchman to 17th and enabled ADAC GT Masters champion van der Linde to take the lead just before the half-hour mark.

Van der Linde went on to control the opening stint and maintained his advantage through the first round of pit stops ahead of Max Verstappen and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Formula E ace Vandoorne, driving the No. 16 Veloce Esports car, then overtook Verstappen around 50 minutes in to move up to second having started sixth on the grid.

Vandoorne was 6.2 seconds behind van der Linde at the end of the first hour, while Formula 1 star Verstappen was a further four seconds back in the No. 20 Redline car.

Formula E points leader Antonio Felix da Costa ran fourth for JOTA Team Redline having made up three places since the start, while Raffaele Marciello was fifth for Rebellion Williams Esport.

The opening hour ran relatively smoothly while the few incidents that did occur were isolated to one or two cars.

A notable early casualty was the FA/RB Allinsports car which retreated to its garage after Fernando Alonso collided with a GTE Porsche at Tertre Rouge.

The No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Oreca featuring defending Le Mans winner Sebastien Buemi also hit trouble when Brendon Hartley spun into the tire wall at Indianapolis.

In the GTE class, Dempsey-Proton Racing’s Loek Hartog overtook Porsche factory drivers Neel Jani and Nick Tandy to seize the lead.

The Dutchman controlled the opening stint after getting past 2015 Le Mans winner Tandy, who maintained his second position through the pit stops.

Nicki Thiim was running third for Aston Martin Racing heading into the second hour, while Daniel Juncadella was fourth for Romain Grosjean’s R8G Esports Team.

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

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