The #7 Toyota TS 040 in the hands of Alex Wurz continues to run untroubled into the night of the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans ahead of the #2 and #1 Audi R18 respectively.
While the hour saw the #2 Audi of Andre Lotterer close to within several seconds of the leading Toyota in the LMP1 class, the German car was unable to take the race lead and the Toyota was able to rebuild the gap to a whole lap.
The LMP2 class is lead by the #35 Oak Racing Ligier, with the team making the decision for Jann Mardenborough and Alex Brundle to share the night racing responsibility with Mardenborough starting the stint before allowing Brundle to take the second drive.
However, the race action in the hour was dominated by Bruno Senna, who took over from teammate Stefan Mucke in the Aston Martin Racing #97 Vantage.
As Senna returned the Aston to the track from the pits, he found himself 1.7 seconds ahead of the AF Corse #51 Ferrari 458 Italia of Toni Vilander.
The duo battled and after five minutes, the gap had dropped to 0.635 seconds. However, a third runner joined the battle as Tommy Milner in the #74 Chevrolet Corvette closed on Hilander to within 0.6 seconds after 10 minutes of the hour.
Senna’s defence saw Aston Martin lead both GTE Pro and GTE Am, with the #95 Aston Martin Racing of Kristian Poulsen leading the Am class.
15 minutes into the session, and the Aston Martin domination was threatened by Vilander who attempted an overtake on Senna heading into the second Mulsanne chicane. Senna was able to hold the position by the skin of his teeth.
The overtake was to cost Vilander, as Milner took advantage of Senna’s defense to move his Corvette into second place in the GTE Pro class.
Back in LMP1, the #20 Porsche 919 pitted with Timo Bernhard behind the wheel as Tom Kristensen, the nine time Le Mans winner, became the fastest driver on the track as as the Audi #1 and #2 continued to chase the leading #7 Toyota.
While Kristensen was enjoying his stint, the frustrated GTE Pro #91 Porsche Team Manthey driver, Patrick Pilet, was forced to endure an hour of no running with the car remaining in the garage.
At the halfway point of the session, the #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi recovered from it’s difficult race start to return to the LMP1 pack. The car’s improvement was met by a stroke of luck as Nick Heidfeld‘s #12 Rebellion was wheeled into the garage before returning outside of the LMP1 pack.
The #8 Toyota remained some way off podium contention, but back in GTE Pro and Senna continued his long running battle with Milner as Vilander drifted six seconds behind. As the hour drew to a close, Senna pitted at the perfect time, returning to the track ahead of both Milner and Vilander who were both unable to take his class leading position.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 11 hours
1 – #7 Toyota Racing – Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima
2 – #2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
3 – #1 Audi Sport Team Joest – di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen
1 – #35 Oak Racing – Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy
2 – #36 Signatech Alpine– Panciatici/Webb/Chatin
3 – #34 Race Performance – Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster
1 – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Turner/Mücke/Senna
2 – #74 Corvette Racing – Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
3 – #51 AF Corse – Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella
1 – #95 Aston Martin Racing – Poulson/Heinemeier Hansson/Thiim
2 – #72 SMP Racing – Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov
3 – #88 Proton Competition – Al Qubaisi/Bachler/Ried