As the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans descended into the hours of darkness, Stephane Sarrazin continued to lead in the #6 Toyota Gazoo Racing machine as the team further refined their pitstop strategy.
This hour really saw the darkness set in but that didn’t worry Sarrazin as he kept powering his TS050 forwards and managed to avoid any of the silly incidents that had befallen others like spins, lock-ups and general off-track driving.
It all meant that the battle for the LMP1 lead was pretty quiet as the #2 and #1 Porsche Team 919 Hybrids seemed happy to settle in to second and third knowing that with 16 hours still ahead of them, there is no point going too hard too quickly – better to let the race come to them rather than force the issue.
Most of the other entries in the top class ran without issue except for the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 which was pushed back into the garage for a minor fix which affected the #8 as well and that car was also called in to the garage.
In LMP2 the lead was swapping between two Oreca 05s with the Thiriet By TDS Racing car with Pierre Thiriet behind the wheel, fighting off the attentions of the Oreca – badged as an Alpine A460 – of Signatech Alpine and Stephane Richelmi. None of the swaps were happening on track, rather the cars had developed different pit strategies and it was down to the mechanics to get them back out in front.
GTE Pro tended to settle down a bit after the earlier battles the class was enjoying as the Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford GT of Dirk Muller held the lead over Giancarlo Fisichella who was trying his best to keep the Ford GT honest in the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. In third place was the second USA based Ford GT of Richard Westbrook.
Notable elsewhere in that class, the highest placed Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE was that of Nicki Thiim who ended the eighth hour in fifth place.
Finally GTE Am and Aston Martin Racing found itself in a better position in that class as Pedro Lamy ruled the roost over Patrick Long in the Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.