It’s been a mixed day for Formula E at Le Mans so far after a very strong start to the weekend. Hazel Southwell brings up the six hour update looking at how the Formula E drivers are faring so far in the fabled French race.
Notorious for torrential rain, e-racing.net packed somewhat cautiously for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Turns out we should have worried more about dust protection and tent-cooling than waterproofing. On a day when in-car temperatures will be routinely topping 50C, even in roadworthy GT cars, the 85th running of the iconic event here has got off to a suitably blistering first quarter.
DS Virgin reserve driver Alex Lynn put the #26 G-Drive LMP2 on pole, with extremely promising pace across the team. This carried on to Roman Rusinov taking it to 339.9km/h, the fastest speed of any car at the time and hours later, still the fastest LMP2.
However, Lynn never actually got in the car during the race as Rusinov subsequently collided with a GT-AM car, ending both’s race during the first driver stint. A real shame, after a thrilling qualifying.
Elsewhere in LMP2 FE drivers are enjoying better fortune – Nico Prost and former FE driver Bruno Senna took the #31 Rebellion drive they’re sharing to the front of the class, still running in second. Nelson Piquet Jr took the other Rebellion into second and then first for LMP2.
Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed a good first stint in the #24 Manor, as fast as is to be expected from him and following an gravel exploration from the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing, running third in class. Jaguar reserve and Le Mans veteran Ho-Pin Tung, after a stint behind the wheel of the #38, is hoping to revert this, however.
Felix Rosenqvist’s Dragonspeed drive seems off the pace, although with only a quarter of the time gone everything is still to play for and it’s still ahead of former Mahindra driver Karun Chandhok’s LMP2, both running well away from a podium as things stand.
Meanwhile Sam Bird’s AF Corse Ferrari still looks competitive in the Ford-dominated LMGTE Pro field, with Bird putting in a superb first stint that saw him leading the class.
In the LMP1 class a front axle drive failure for the #2 Porsche has left the three Toyotas (equipped with an FE driver apiece in Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin and Jose Maria Lopez) with only one real rival car.
It’s too early to know what will happen – and with a retirement every 30 minutes for the first hour and a half, this race has definitely already shown its teeth. But as things stand, it’s possible we could see seven FE drivers on Le Mans podiums. But dusk is beckoning and the cooler night running could change everything again…
Images courtesy of Rajan Jangda