Toyota currently leads the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1-2 with a 4 lap margin over the non-hybrid cars.
Sebastien Buemi started from pole but conceded the lead from tem-mate Mike Conway, driving the number 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing car on the first lap. Drama ensued however when Andre Lotterer’s number 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson tagged the rear of Buemi’s Toyota, dislodging the front bodywork of the Rebellion and into the path of Hanley’s DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1 Gibson, who spun after the contact.
Buemi would later regain the lead after gain seven seconds with a fuel-only first pit stop on lap nine. Back in LMP2, Jean-Eric Vergne’s G-Drive Oreca enjoyed an 8-second lead ahead of Loic Duval in the TDS Racing entry.
Michael Christensen took the GTE-Pro lead during the first stops, with both Manthey-run Porsche 911 RSRs running 1-2 during the opening stint while Dempsey-Proton Racing controlled GTE-Am for several hours with the 77 Porsche leading that class.
Matevos Isaakyan’s number 17 SMP entry spun into the tyre barriers at the Porsche Curves and would return to the pits for repairs before re-joining the race. It would last until midnight before crashing again before the entry to Dunlop bridge and catching fire. It would be the end of the line for the Jenson Button shared car.
Life wasn’t much better for the number 4 ByKolles Racing’s ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO entry after nearly failing to make the start and spinning on the warm-up lap. It would last until the fifth hour until crashing heavily at the Porsche Curves after contact with a lapped GTE Am car.
After eight hours, Toyota enjoyed a three-lap advantage over the first of the non-hybrid Rebellions, but could not afford to dial down the pace by virtue of their energy recovery systems requiring full speed to work efficiently.
The order of the TS050 Hybrids changed during their 10th stops, with the number 7 entry of Kamui Kobayashi seizing the lead from Kazuki Nakajima by less than a second. However a 1 minute stop penalty would befall the number 8 car for speeding in a slow zone. Despite dropping 2 minutes behind leader Mike Conway, Buemi would respond by lapping a second quicker than the leader before Conway responded to equalise the situation.
Fernando Alonso currently has the gap down under 2 minutes however as the number 8 has been slightly faster than the sister car on average, the gap would have been about 40 seconds had it not been for the penalty.
Number 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota TS050 – Hybrid
Number 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota TS050 – Hybrid
Number 3 Rebellion Racing, Rebellion R13 – Gibson
Number 26 G-Drive Racing, Oreca 07 – Gibson
Number 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut, Alpine A470 – Gibson
Number 23 Panis Barthez Competition, Ligier JSP217 – Gibson
Number 92 Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR
Number 91 Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR
Number 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA, Ford GT
Number77 Dempsey – Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR
Number 84 JMW Motorsport, Ferrari F488 GTE
Number 85 Keating Motorsports, Ferrari F488 GTE
IMAGES: Adrenal Media
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