Rule number one of endurance racing: keep turning laps, whatever you do. Unless you’re pretty sure whatever problem you’ve discovered is going to kill you or the car, stay out there as long as you can. Sometimes that means your bodywork keeps flapping in the wind until your team is ready for a quick fix.
Nick Tandy’s No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR was turning a slow out-lap on fresh cold tires. Johnny Mowlem in the No. 20 Prototype Challenge car seemed to misjudge the 911's slower speed and ran into him, sending both cars into the wall.
The heavily damaged 911 was able to fire back up, despite having a smashed-in rear. It soon lost its rear window, which blew off on track.
Problem: the yellow flag caused by the 911’s crash closed the pit lane, preventing the No. 911 crew from doing anything more than emergency work on the car. Either way, the team deemed the car structurally OK enough to keep limping around the track, so they only opted to replace the blown tire before sending the 911 back out to turn more laps.
This may have been annoying for Tandy to keep driving, as all of the car’s usual aerodynamics were borked with no rear window, no rear wing, only one wing support left sticking up, and a rear bumper that was flopping like the world’s goofiest air brake.
However, sending Tandy back out was brilliant on the team’s part, given that Tandy could still turn laps, and it allowed the team to get all the parts ready to make major repairs to the car and call the car in for repairs when the team was was ready. At the end of the race, slow laps still count as laps, and allowing the team to get organized first means they’ll spend less time with the car in the pits.
Mowlem was penalized for the contact, however, this was bizarre, as No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR driver Fred Makowiecki wasn’t penalized for similar contact under similar circumstances earlier in the race with Magnus Racing’s No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3.