Saturday, June 17, 2017

24 HEURES DU MANS | 9:46:00

This is a strange time amidst the already weird night. The old saw claims, "It's always darkest before the dawn." Dawn approaches in northern France, while here in sacred Michigan the night grows ever deeper. Exhaustion is widespread, fatigue is infectious. Those who slept are waking up to a race unrecognizable from the one they left behind; for them, the shock, the too-familiar heartbreak of Toyota's stunning collapse is fresh.

The № 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid is running slowly, not because of any trouble, but because they are being ultraconservative; essentially, they are following quintuple Formula One World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio's (1951, '54, '55, '56, & '57) maxim of winning the race by going as slowly as possible. The № 2 Porsche is still eighteen laps down, but has carved its way throughout about half of the L.M.P.2 field. The chaps at Radio Le Mans are of the opinion that if the № 2 doesn't encounter any additional trouble its pace should still put it on the overall podium, ahead of the swarm of P.2s. The sole remaining Toyota TS050 Hybrid, № 8, is two laps behind the lead pack of G.T.E. Pro cars, clawing its way back up the running order, but too far back to do much of anything but salvage a moral victory (& World Endurance Championship points).

The № 13 Vaillante Rebellion is running second in class, third overall, fifty second behind the class-leading № 38 Jackie Chan DC Oreca-Gibson, two laps ahead of the sister № 31 Vaillante Rebellion.

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