While the LMP1 battle has been tame so far in the 2017 6 Hours of Mexico, with the #2 and #1 Porsche 919s gradually pulling away from the Toyotas, behind, there’s been plenty of action in the three other categories in the second and third hours of the race.
As it stands up front, the #2 Porsche leads the #1 by 20 seconds, after the #1 was forced to take a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane. 80 seconds back from the leading car of Earl Bamber, the #8 Toyota is now third and the #7 is fourth, both TS050s continuing to lap in formation, within two seconds of each other. Lopez took third back off the #8 of Nakajima just before the halfway mark, but at the third stops the two swapped back again.
So far it’s been a faultless run by the #2’s drivers, however, the car had to undergo a fuel-flow metre change at its third stop, though it was done while the car was being refuelled. It meant the team lost no time and still leads by over 20 seconds.
In LMP2, the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07 Gibson continues to dominate, but the battles behind for the remaining podium spots have been thrilling.
The #26 G-Drive Racing car is second, after Roman Rusinov successfully fended off Gustavo Menezes in the #36 Signatech Alpine, the pair coming together multiple time at one point, with the stewards forcing Menezes to hand Rusinov the place back after side-by-side action which ended with the American going off the track.
“It was a hard stint, lots of fighting with the #26. He ran me off the road though, and we had contact three times.” Menezes said.
After a driver change to Andre Negrao, the #36 after the third stops is now fourth, the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing machine promoted to third, after a great stint by Jean Eric Vergne.
The second Rebellion, after starting last, is now up to fifth, behind the Alpine with Mathias Beche currently driving.
The biggest story in the class though, was the championship-leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA suffering clutch issues, which forced the car into the garage for over 20 minutes, it’s now last in the class.
In GTE Pro, there were fireworks throughout the second and third hours of the race. The lead battle has ebbed and flowed between the #71 AF Corse Ferrari and Dane Train #95 Aston Martin, though the #71 managed to hold its lead, aside from a brief period after the first hour when Marco Sorensen got by. The gap now is just seven seconds.
The most dramatic moment though, came in the third hour, when James Calado in the #51 clashed with Olivier Pla for third place through the baseball stadium, the pair hitting each other twice while running alongside one another. It caused a puncture for the Ferrari and right-rear damage to the Ford.
Tempers flared in the garage, as both drivers pitted immediately for repairs, Calado furious after getting out the car.
“We clashed last year,” he said, “and back then it was my fault. This time it was just absurd, amateurish from him.”
While the #66 lost time in the pits, and is now seventh, the #51 rejoined the race in third after a tyre change, Alessandro Pier Guidi now behind the wheel. After starting seventh in the class, it’s been a great run to a podium spot so far.
And finally in Am, it’s all change. After a dominant start from the #98 Aston, Marvin Dienst and Matteo Carol chipped away at Mathias Lauda and later Paul Dalla Lana’s lead to take the top spot just before the halfway mark in the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche. Cairoli made the move in the end, and is now 27 seconds up the road.
Third is the #86 Gulf Porsche, continuing its solid run with Nick Foster now aboard the car, with the Spirit of Race Ferrari a distant fourth.