Spins and collisions as Le Mans 24 Hours starts in the wet

21 August 2021 - 19:52
By Reuters
The 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans got off to a rainy start with spins and collisions aplenty.
Image: WEC The 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans got off to a rainy start with spins and collisions aplenty.

Champions Toyota led one-two after the first two hours of a wet Le Mans 24 Hours on Saturday with plenty of spins and collisions around the slippery Sarthe circuit on the opening laps.

The number seven Toyota GR010 hybrid Hypercar, with Britain's Mike Conway taking the first stint at the wheel, led the rolling start from pole position after two extra formation laps behind the safety car.

Conway was nearly a minute clear at the two hour mark, with the number eight Toyota driven by Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi recovering from an early spin after being shunted from behind by Frenchman Olivier Pla in the number 708 Glickenhaus.

Pla was handed a 10-second penalty for the collision, with Buemi continuing after briefly stopping by the side of the track.

The number eight car has won the Le Mans overall title for the past three years with Buemi and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima while New Zealand's Brendon Hartley, winner with Porsche in 2017, came in last time for Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

Alonso, a double champion now back in Formula One with Renault-owned Alpine, was watching as a spectator after earlier performing a demonstration lap in an F1 car.

Alpine's number 36 car ran second in the opening laps until Nicolas Lapierre spun at the Indianapolis curve, with the 709 Glickenhaus moving up before also spinning and opening the door for Portugal's Antonio Felix da Costa in the LMP2 JOTA entry.

The eight Toyota moved back into second place after 90 minutes.

The number seven Toyota, with Japan's Kamui Kobayashi and Argentine Jose Maria Lopez teamed up with Conway, has yet to win Le Mans after four poles from the last five races but is hoping to shrug off the jinx in the new Hypercar era.

The 61 cars in the 89th edition of the endurance race were flagged away by Ferrari chairman John Elkann, the official starter waving the French tricolour.

The race ends at 1400GMT on Sunday.