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A further two seconds back is the 31 of Pipo Derani, likely the favorite to win the race, but the bigger issue than the gap to the leaders for that car is its ten minute mis-alignment on fuel load. That car will be pitting from behind for a large portion of the rest of the race, and will no longer gain an undercut advantage from it. In fact, even if the rest of the field decides to shorten their stints, they'll still gain an undercut advantage on that car while doing so.
The 7 Acura and 10 and 84 Cadillacs are still in contention, but do not belong in the immediate conversation with the top four as they run right now. Hour Eric Curran is now ceding the 31 Cadillac back to Pipo Derani, who will have a very real chance of retaking the lead by the end of this stint. Curran's mandatory drive time is complete, and that car should pretty quickly cycle back into the top four.
Unfortunately for that team, though, the timing of Curran's mandatory drive time completion has left that car even more aggressively short-pitted than the leading 6 Acura, meaning that the car will be close to ten minutes off strategy again, just an hour after sacrificing a sizable fuel advantage to join the primary strategy before the most recent safety car. That car's now in the same situation that the Porsche was during the last stint, running a half-cycle behind but leading because of its time on a clean track and fresh tires.
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Upon further review it appears a piece of debris went through the radiator and dumped the water out - no sensors picked up the issue until all pressure was gone. Hour The 6 Acura of Simon Pagenaud, the championship leading car, is leading the race after a five-ish lap undercut of the rest of the field. That car's small lead means that cars from three different manufacturers are now within four seconds of the overall lead. Hour The entire DPi field is back on the same strategy, which means that the entire field has stopped over the course of the last two laps.
Hour Nearly half an hour after the restart, the 77 Mazda is still within a car length of the overall lead and still trying to make a move to get that spot. Unfortunately for Bernhard and Mazda Team Joest, the 5 is now applying a similar pressure to get that spot back. There are no longer any running LMP2 cars left on track. Hour The race is officially past the halfway mark. We're a couple of hours away from losing daylight.
That car is slowing, but not stopping, with what looks like a potentially catastrophic issue. The car safely makes its way to the pit lane, but it's a very bad sign for a car that was previously running fourth in class.
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Hour If you're wondering why the top two are pulling away, it's because Eric Curran is now behind the wheel of the 52 Action Express Cadillac. Curran is good at what he does, but he's no longer a full time professional racing driver. Curran drops to fourth after being passed by potential and expected DPi champion Dane Cameron in the 6 Acura. Graham Rahal, in the 7 Acura, is now pressuring him for fourth. Mazda 77 is the car to watch here, as it sits between the leading 5 Action Express Cadillac and its teammate, the fastest car on track, in third. Hour , Full Course Caution 3: Our four cars attemptingaggressive off-cycle strategies, something one of the four had actually begun to abandon just before the safety car came out, are now normalized onto the primary strategy, so we can see where they've landed in what is essentially another complete reset for the healthy cars left on track: Cadillac 31 has fallen to third in DPi, after leading before the rest of the class hung them out to dry by switching strategies.
Porsche is sixth in GTLM, around where it was running before their move. The 33 Mercedes and 63 Ferrari are second and third, respectively, in GTD, an impressive gain that gets them back to where they were running before being caught off guard in the first place. That's catastrophic for that car, which doesn't seem too damaged but has presumably knocked itself out of contention for a class win.
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Since the 66 was stuck for so long, most of the field stopped before the safety car. This will normalize most teams onto the same strategy, so we'll never know if the 31's plan would have panned out without the help of the safety car.
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Hour The 31 is stopping earlier this cycle in what NBC is reporting is an attempt to normalize that car onto the same sequence to avoid being caught off guard by a safety car. Essentially, that car is giving up a full stop of time, which is a thing you can only do when you comfortably have the fastest car on the track and there are six hours left in the race. Impressively bold. Hour Penske Racing, if you haven't heard, is a little detail oriented:.
Cool drinks holder with crew initials for each slot. All three are now covered by less than two seconds. Hour It's time to watch the 77 Mazda, which has gained ten seconds on the 5 Cadillac over the last hour. The gap is nine seconds for the overall lead, with that car trying to be the first non-Cadillac to lead today. Hour The 4 Corvette and 85 Cadillac DPi make some contact in a bout of yellow car on yellow car violence, but both cars return to the track with no visible damage.
Juan Piedrahita, driver of the 85 at the time of the incident, is awarded a drive-through penalty for that contact. Hour For those keeping score at home, the following cars are on aggressive alternate strategies:. You'll see these cars swing aggressively from the lead to around fifth in their respective classes about once every 40 minutes, but all four have just stopped, so your leaders in those classes are again the 5 Cadillac, the 67 Ford, and the 96 BMW, respectively.
Hour The Porsche, which led in GTLM for the last 20 minutes as it runs on its own strategy, undergoes a brake pad depth check during its stop. Brake changes are commonplace on GT cars during 24 hour races, but should not be an issue during a 10 hour race, so any choice to make a change here would come as a surprise. Hour The 33 Mercedes and 63 Ferrari are still fighting on track, somehow, for what is the lead in GTD as they run but will likely cycle out to fifth in class once those cars make their next stops.
After another momentary side-by-side scuffle, the 63 comes out leading the two yet again. Hour Felipe Nasr has the 31 up to third overall on track. These passes for position matter because Nasr's car is fast enough that he could gain enough time to win the race even if the team's strategy leaves it taking an extra stop.
Hour Mike Conway, the stellar Toyota factory Prototype driver and multi-time IndyCar race winner, makes an uncharacteristic mistake and goes off at turn 10 from the overall lead. Conway lost around five seconds after that incident, but the 5 Cadillac seems to have escaped without a major issue. His teammates in the 31 are up to fourth on track after a recent pass on the championship-leading 6 Acura, still in position to cycle into the lead when the cars on the other strategy stop.
Hour Thanks to two lap-down cars, the battle for second in GTD was briefly four wide. The 48 Lamborghini maintains the position over the 86 Acura after an exceptionally bad idea of an attempted pass. Hour The 31 cuts its losses, with the team calling Pipo Derani to pit even earlier than last stint, taking that car further off strategy but, crucially, getting it away from the Felipe Nasr is back in the car, where he should have a clean track for a few laps before he catches Graham Rahal in the 7 Acura.
The 50 Juncos Cadillac is behind the wall, tending to whatever issue casued it to stop on track in a precarious position a few minutes ago. Hour Pipo Derani has lost a fairly large chunk of his lead over the past two laps, and, given that he's on a more aggressive fuel strategy than anyone else, is getting to the point where he'll probably need to make an aggressive move on the 10 soon.
As of yet, he's been patient. Hour The 31 is back in the overall lead, but it is somehow still behind the 10 on track. Pipo Derani is trying to put that car a lap down, but it will almost certainly be harder than it should. Hour The 55 Mazda's issue was a misfire about an hour earlier, previously unreported on the TV broadcast.
It had already been behind the wall before its most recent issue, and returned after a second problem. It's bad news for one Mazda, but the other is very much in this race with a chance to win. Hour The 31 Cadillac, which is on a different strategy but should still cycle out as the leader, is locked in a dogfight for seventh it really doesn't need to be in at all.
After about four attempts, Pipo Derani has finally cleared the 10 Cadillac, and now sets his sights on the 7 Acura. The 50 Juncos Cadillac is stopped under the bridge at turn 11, the track's high speed final corner. Fortunately, it resumes and re-enters the pit lane without issue. Hour Mazda 55 is behind the wall with some sort of engine issue. It had been relatively off the pace, particularly with how well the 77 has been doing.
24 Hours of Le Mans
This race is suddenly action packed, and all thanks to GTD cars. Riley Motorsports endurance driver Felipe Fraga, currently in that Mercedes, has been responsible for no small part of that. Hour The 63 Ferrari, still a very real contender in GTD, now has a single piece of massive tape keeping its right-front fender together.
There are still nearly seven hours left in this race. Hour The 9 Pfaff Porsche is back on track after an off that seemed destined to end in the wall.
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Thankfully, it did not, but it marks yet another GTD car in a small bit of trouble near the front of the field. That could be a big problem for that car, as could the minor damage the 63 Ferrari received from its contact with that Audi R8, which has just received a drive-through penalty for its unsuccessful block attempt shortly before that pass. That's still one of the three fastest cars in that class. Derani has the 31 comfortably in the lead yet again. After the upheval caused by the timing of that safety car, the 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 is leading in GT3, while the 48 Lamborghini is the only car of the three entries that had dominated the majority of the race left in a provisional podium spot.
The broadcast has switched to an online-only stream for the next two and a half hours, resuming afterward on the NBC Sports Network. Hour , Full Course Caution 2: The 12 Lexus slows to a stop in the grass outside of turn 1 with what appears to be a destroyed front-right suspension corner. The car was on its first flying lap and seems to have lost control while being passed by the 10 Cadillac, with the two possibly having made contact. The safety car is out. This is particularly brutal for NBC Sports announcer Townsend Bell, who was scheduled to be racing that car later today.
Bell was in the booth when the collision happened, and was able to react to the race-derailing issue in real time. Hour At this point, there seems to be a clear difference between the fully professional and pro-am classes; GTLM and DPi are both very stagnant, with nobody with a healthy car falling out of contention but nobody pushing hard to decrease any gaps or make any major passes.
GTD, meanwhile, has on a few occasions been a hornet's nest, and even as the 48 Lamborghini again pulls away with a comfortable lead while the 33 and 63 are on a different strategy, the 96, 9, and 86 are within just two seconds in a battle for second on track. Expect that to be the pattern for much of the race, with the real contenders in GTLM and DPi not being completely clear until we see who's left on the lead lap in about four hours.
Hour The 5 Cadillac, running in second, finally makes its first driver change during this set of stops, with Filipe Albuquerque giving way to Mike Conway. The Toyota LMP1 factory driver will have a moderate gap to the leader, but he's out ahead of the 6 Acura, so he should have an open track as he attempts to catch his teammate.