2021 Le Mans 24 Hours 12H Report | #8 Toyota closes on team-mates at half-way st

Toyota continues to manage its advantage out front with its only threat now surely from within as the #7 and #8 cars head into the second half of the race smelling glory
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Toyota Gazoo Racing

The #8 Toyota has begun to make up ground on the sister #7 Hypercar as the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours clicked over into the half-way stage with only 20secs covering the pair at one stage.

The Japanese manufacturer has kept its head down and contended with numerous slow zones and full course yellows to steadily eke out its advantage over the Alpine and the two Glickenhaus Hypercars without putting pressure on its new GR010 Hybrid.

Putting Toyota on course for its fourth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours crown, but its first with a Hypercar, the team’s only cause for concern will be if a fierce fight breaks out between the #7 crew of Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway, #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley.

Indeed, the latter car has made up impressive ground since being involved in two incidents on the opening lap of the race and has now begun to make in-roads into the leading sister car, even if the gap is fluctuating with the pit-stops back over a minute during the pit-stops.

With its smaller fuel tank always likely to mean Alpine would need to rely on Toyota hitting problems for it to get into victory contention with the ‘grandfathered’ A480, instead it was the French team running into problems when Matthieu Vaxiviere spun and then suffering a brief technical issue later on too. Nonetheless, Alpine is back up to third, three laps down.

Glickenhaus’ feared reliability problems haven’t surfaced as yet with the #708 car continuing to lap competitively and within range of snatching third from Alpine if run into more problems. 

Team WRT continue to defeat more established rivals to eke out its 1-2 advantage in LMP2, though the two cars have swapped over with the #31 Oreca os Ferdinand Habsburg, Charles Milesi and Robin Frijns now leading the #41 of Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Ye Yefei.

The last remaining competitive United Autosports entry of the three that started are keeping the WRT cars honest in third, with Panis Racing, Jota and Interpol fourth, fifth and sixth in class.

Ferrari have taken control of both GTE classes with AF Corse leading Pro with Sam Bird, Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra, while Nickles Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera continue to extend its lead in GTE Am.

Eleven cars have been forced to retire during the first-half of the race, including three LMP2 entries - Richard Mille Racing after getting crossed up in an incident with a G-Drive car before being given a terminal thump by the Eurasia India car, the #32 United Autosports car that skidded across the gravel and t-boned the sister #23 car and the #25 G-Drive after it spun into the barriers at Turn 1.

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