The eighth hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans ended under the fourth safety car period of the race so far after Tor Graves spun into the tyres at the start of the Porsche Curves.
Graves’ accident neutralised the final ten minutes of the hour, but the shape of the front race continued to shift as the #3 Audi, already recovering from the flat tyre that delayed Oliver Jarvis was rotated into the garage, the team offering new front bodywork as well as fixing an illuminated number panel.
Despite the additional delay the team kept fourth place at the end of the hour – one third distance in this year’s race. The lead three cars stayed on track through the safety car, the #2 Audi – the sole undelayed R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen enjoying a near lap lead over the #7 Toyota driven by Kazuki Nakajima.
There were also problems in the pits for the #26 G-Drive Racing car which dropped from the lead battle in LMP2 down to fifth after a long stop, also including an electrical fix to an illuminated number panel. Their delay allowed the #35 OAK Racing car into a commanding lead at the front of the class with 3m45 between they and their teammates in #24 at the end of the hour – though the gap was inflated due to the slow pace behind the trio of safety cars circulating the track.
In LMGTE Pro the status quo remained, with the #99 and #97 Aston Martins sandwiching the #92 Porsche.
Richard Lietz – in the Porsche – briefly took the lead after a stop from the #99 Aston, but Bruno Senna returned the Vantage to the class lead once Lietz and #97 driver Peter Dumbreck pitted together. Under green flag conditions Senna held a 12 second lead but bunching up behind the safety car squeezed the top three together, with just four seconds – officially – between them at one third distance.
Porsches held the top three places in LMGTE Am, the Proton Competition #88 leading, giving Paolo Ruberti reward for chasing down the AF Corse Ferrari that pitted from the class lead. The Dempsey Del Piero car, also run by the Proton team, were second – just eight seconds behind with the #76 IMSA Performance Matmut car back a lap running third in class ahead of two AF Corse charges in the class order.
2013 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 8 hours
1 – #2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Duval/Kristensen/McNish
2 – #7 Toyota Racing – Lapierre/Nakajima/Wurz
3 – #8 Toyota Racing – Buemi/Davidson/Sarrazin
1 – #35 OAK Racing – Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman
2 – #24 OAK Racing – Brundle/Heinemeier Hansson/Pla
3 – #42 Greaves Motorsport – Mardenborogh/Krumm/Ordonez
1 – #99 – Aston Martin Racing – Bell/Makowiecki/Senna
2 – #92 – Porsche AG Team Manthey – Dumas/Lieb/Lietz
3 – #97 – Aston Martin Racing – Dumbreck/Mucke/Turner
1 – #88 – Proton Competition – Reid/Roda/Ruberti
2 – #77 – Dempsey Del Piero-Proton – Dempsey/Foster/Long
3 – #76 – IMSA Performance Matmut – Bourret/Narac/Vernay