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Le Mans 24 Hours: Hour 19 Summary

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After 18 hours of racing, it must be noted that the rate of attrition is very low. There had only been nine official retirements when the nineteenth hour started. Impressively the Toyotas had only ever run for a maximum of six hours in competition in one race, and had been without significant issues during this race. The SRT Vipers were also running very solidly at their Le Mans debut, the pace may have been lacking, but with the car being so new they will surely be very pleased with its durability at this early stage of its development.

When the safety car went in, a car chase ensued involving the second place #24 Oak Morgan and the #26 ADR-Delta Oreca. The #24 was trying to lap the Oreca but was held up by the sister “art car”, this allowed Lucas Ordonez to catch up and challenge for third in class. Lucas was however held up by the Race Performance Oreca driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen and a hard charging Oliver Turvey, losing a considerable amount of time.

Incidentally, we understand from overheard conversations that the number or replacement Armco pieces fitted during the race so far had reached 50.

Fred Makowiecki was back in the #99 AMR Vantage and pushing hard in his efforts to maintain a gap from Marc Lieb in the #92 Porsche. Further up ahead, Lucas Di Grassi pitted the #3 Audi at 09:25 while both Toyotas stopped five minutes later.

More significantly, though, the rain began to fall again across the full course at 09:45. Joe Foster was one of the first to be caught out, spinning the #77 Porsche at the start of the pit straight and driving the wrong way for a hundred metres or so before finally pointing in the right direction. It’s possible the Race Director’s noticed.

But there was drama a couple of minutes later when Fred Mako crashed out of the class lead at the exit of the first chicane. TV replays showed the car exiting the chicane normally, but then snapping to the left and hitting the barrier full on. The car was out on the spot, but the driver climbed out and ran to safety.

This was the cruellest of blows to the AMR team on its darkest weekend and driver and mechanics were clearly devasted.

The Safety Car came out once more – establishing a new and unwanted record in the process – as did the barrier-repair crew.