A dramatic failure saw the #7 Toyota TS 040 finally lose it’s comfortable lead position as the #2 Audi R18 took the race lead as the 24 hour race heads towards dawn.
Audi were fortunate to run a virtually trouble free hour, unlike fellow German makers Porsche, with their #14 919 starting the hour stuck in the pits for fifteen minutes.
While the LMP1 field began to run into issues, the GTE Pro class saw a continuation of Bruno Senna‘s #97 Aston Martin battling with the #51 Ferrari 458 Italia.
Just a few minutes into the hour, and Senna’s stint ended with a switch to Darren Turner which allowed the #51 Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella to take the class lead.
Turner, however, was undeterred and and after 10 minutes of the hour, the gap between the two cars was reduced by four seconds as the earlier impressive #74 Corvette undertook a driver change with Richard Westbrook replacing Oliver Gavin.
In LMP2, Jann Mardenborough continued to lead the class with his night time strategy shared by Alex Brundle working well. 25 minutes into the session, and the second place #36 Alpine of Paul-Loup Chatin pitted to hand the car to Oliver Webb.
By the halfway point, the LMP1 issues returned this time with the #20 Porsche in the hands of Brendon Hartley. Told by his team to manage his brakes, Hartley took another pit stop which handed third position to Lucas Di Grassi in the #1 Audi.
Di Grassi took third just before Turner finally overcame Fisichella on the Mulsanne straight with half of the hour gone.
In LMP2, there was no such close battle as Mardenborough set his personal fastest lap of 3:38.576 to open a 40 second gap over the #36 Alpine.
The pattern of the hour had seen mechanical issues, but there was a rare driver mistake as the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari spun and continued at Arange.
With twenty minutes left of the hour, the LMP1 leaders made driver changes with Benoit Treyuler and Kazuki Nakajima taking their seats in the #2 Audi and #7 Toyota respectively.
There was to be one late battle in the GTE Pro battle with Turner’s pit of the Aston Martin leaving the #51 Ferrari with one final chance to take the class lead, but Turner just evaded the challenge before building a 40 second gap with five minutes of the hour left.
With late drama up and down the field, it was comfortable running in GTE Am, as Aston Martin Racing‘s #95 driven by Nicki Thiim run comfortably in the lead throughout the hour.
As the hour closed, the long standing lead of the #7 Toyota was cut short as the car came to a stop at Arnage, allowing the #2 Audi to take the race lead heading into dawn.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 14 Hours
1 – #2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
2 – #7 Toyota Racing – Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima
3 – #20 Porsche Team – Bernhard/Hartley/Webber
1 – #35 Oak Racing – Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy
2 – #36 Signatech Alpine– Panciatici/Webb/Chatin
3 – #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing – Badey/Gommendy/Thiriet
1 – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Turner/Mücke/Senna
2 – #51 AF Corse – Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella
3 – #92 Porsche Team Manthey – Holzer/Lietz/Makowiecki
1 – #95 Aston Martin Racing – Poulson/Heinemeier Hansson/Thiim
2 – #61 AF Corse – Cioci/Perez-Companc/Venturi
3 – #88 Proton Competition – Al Qubaisi/Bachler/Ried