“We have two… Let’s see if we can achieve the Indy 500 soon”, said Alonso post race – letting loose his Triple Crown ambitions.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez finished second after being handed an array of penalties, heading home the first non-hybrid number 3 Rebellion entry of Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche
Sebastien Buemi started from pole but conceded the lead from tem-mate Mike Conway, driving the No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing car on the first lap. Drama ensued however when Andre Lotterer’s number 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson tagged the rear of Buemi’s Toyota, dislodging the front bodywork of the Rebellion and into the path of Hanley’s Dragon Speed BR Engineering BR1 Gibson, who spun after the contact.
Buemi would later regain the lead after gain seven seconds with a fuel-only first pit stop on lap nine. Back in LMP2, Jean-Eric Vergne’s G-Drive Oreca enjoyed an 8-second lead ahead of Loic Duval in the TDS Racing entry.
Michael Christensen took the GTE-Pro lead during the first stops, with both Manthey-run Porsche 911 RSRs running 1-2 during the opening stint while Dempsey-Proton Racing controlled GTE-Am for several hours with the 77 Porsche leading that class.
Matevos Isaakyan’s number 17 SMP entry spun into the tyre barriers at the Porsche Curves and would return to the pits for repairs before re-joining the race. It would last until midnight before crashing again before the entry to Dunlop bridge and catching fire. It would be the end of the line for the Jenson Button shared car.
Life wasn’t much better for the number 4 ByKolles Racing’s ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO entry after nearly failing to make the start and spinning on the warm-up lap. It would last until the fifth hour until crashing heavily at the Porsche Curves after contact with a lapped GTE Am car.
After eight hours, Toyota enjoyed a three-lap advantage over the first of the non-hybrid Rebellions, but could not afford to dial down the pace by virtue of their energy recovery systems requiring full speed to work efficiently.
The order of the TS050 Hybrids changed during their 10th stops, with the number 7 entry of Kamui Kobayashi seizing the lead from Kazuki Nakajima by less than a second. However, a 1-minute stop penalty would befall the number 8 car for speeding in a slow zone. Despite dropping 2 minutes behind leader Mike Conway, Buemi would respond by lapping a second quicker than the leader before Conway responded to equalise the situation.
The pair of Rebellions ran into trouble during the early hours of the morning, with both R13 Gibsons losing close to ten minutes in the garage with technical issues. This extended Toyota’s advantage over the non-hybrid LMP1’s to around ten laps.
G-Drive Racing continued to control LMP2 by close to a lap and likewise Porsche maintained their stranglehold in GTE-Pro in the Manthey-run Porsche 911 RSRs.
At daybreak, a heavy impact for the number 10 Dragon Speed BR1 Gibson saw Ben Hanley lose control through the Porsche Curves before collecting the tyre barriers.
In GTE Am Porsche protégé Matt Campbell brought in the number 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche with a lead of three minutes over the Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella, but all eyes were up front as Nakajima overtook Kamui Kobayashi at the Mulsanne Corner to seize control of the race in the number 8 Toyota.
The big story of the morning however was the battle in GTE Pro between Sebastien Bourdais and Fred Makowiecki contested the battle for second in GTE Pro.
As Bourdais caught Makowiecki on the Mulsanne straight, the Porsche driver went ultra-defensive only for Bourdais to execute a pass at Indianapolis. Makowiecki then retook the position on the run to the Porsche Curves and forced Bourdais onto the grass – the French Canadian declaring the move “completely unacceptable”.
With 90 minutes remaining the number 7 Toyota Hybrid began to slow on the Mulsanne after Kobayashi missed his pit box call and was forced to manage fuel on his return lap. This handed the sister car a one lap advantage on the run home. There would be more woe for the number 7 Toyota after being handed 10-second stop/go penalty for exceeding their fuel limit and yet another penalty for exceeding the number of laps per stint.
Jenson Button’s debut drive came to an abrupt end as the number 11 SMP Racing entry failed on the exit to Indianapolis.
The 26 G-Drive_Racing took the LMP2 victory 3 laps ahead of the second placed number 36 Signatech Alpine and number 39 Grass SO24 entry in third. Tristan Gommendy and Duval fighting out the final podium spot in LMP2
In GTE Pro the number 92 and 91 Rothmans and Pink Pig liveried Manthey entries took 1-2 line honours ahead of the number 68 Ford GT Chip Ganassi entry, while in GTE Am, the number 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR took the win ahead of the 54 Spirit of Race, Ferrari F488 GTE with the number 85 Keating Motorsports, Ferrari F488 GTE rounding out the final podium position.
Images: Adrenal Media
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