The rain that was predicted to fall fell within the fourth hour of this race, opening the decision as to when and which wet weather tyre to put on. Those using the Michelin tyres have the option to run the full wet grooved tyres or the Michelin “slicktermediates’ – wet weather tyres that do not have any grooves in them. Dunlop was offered the option to manufacture this type of wet weather tyre but they declined, meaning that all racers on the Dunlop tyres only have one wet weather tyre to choose from.

LMP1’s fourth hour started with race leader – Brendan Hartley – being handed a stop/go penalty for a pit infringement that Timo Bernhard did before handing the car over. Bernhard crossed the pit entry line and bailed on entering the pits. After serving the stop/go Hartley was on a mission to regain the lead. He managed to close in on the #2 Porsche in second and the #8 Audi in the lead at a relatively rapid pace, getting back into the lead before the half-hour mark. Duval had some excessive defensive moves as he tried to keep both Porsches behind, pretty much squeezing the #2 off the track as it tried to get passed, but it was no use to the rapid pace of the reigning Champion team.

The rain began to fall and both Porsches and the remaining Toyota pitted for the full wet weather Michelin tyres. Audi, however, took a different decision, and fitted the ‘slicktermediates’ to both of their cars. It looked to be the right decision as the weather lightened up a bit but a front left bearing failure on the #8 Audi sent Oliver Jarvis spinning straight into the tyre barrier at the end of Turn 1. He had no brakes, meaning it was a high-speed impact into the barrier. Jarvis is fine and managed to get the car back to the pits but he was a little shaken up. Whether the #8 will get back out on track is yet to be known.

The #27 SMP Racing has had many contact issues through this race. Contact made with the #50 Corvette gained the #27 a drive through penalty. But as the rain fell the LMP2 cars started to slip off the track. #41, #43 and #44 all reported to spin off of the track before pitting for wet weather tyres. Due to the order of pit stops, the #43 RGR Sport car is one of the last to pit. This meant that the #43 inherited the lead for a little while as the rest of the field pitted before it. As the field has gone through its pits, it is the #26 leading the #36 from #43 for the podium in LMP2.

The order of LMGTE Pro has not changed for the fourth hour, and Aston Martin continue to lead with a 1-2. Porsche #77 still trails in third, with the #67 Ford looking to have lost its threat to the bottom step of the podium. Alike the #43, #83 AF Corse looks to be in the lead of LMGTE Am, but it is only because it has yet to pit. #86 still leads the Am class and the Championship leaders in the #83 sit about third. The #50 Corvette appears to have been a magnet for contact this hour and was forced to pit for repairs about halfway through. A lot of the front of the Corvette is now made up of black gaffa tape but it is back on track lapping round. Currently the #50 is running 6th in class and right at the back of the field.

(image: fiawec.com)

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