With the sun continuing to drop beyond the horizon at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Toyota Gazoo Racing are now running one and two, with the #7 of Stephane Sarrazin leading the sister #8 car of Kazuki Nakajima after the Japanese racer passed the #1 Porsche.
Vaillante Rebellion continue to lead LMP2, while Aston Martin Racing lead both GTE Pro and Am classes amid a trio of Slow Zone enforcements in the final quarter of the hour.
1st – #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin
2nd – #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima
3rd – #1 Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Jani/Lotterer/Tandy
The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry of Stephane Sarazzin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi continues to lead the LMP1 class, but behind them, the battle for second was thrilling.
Halfway through the hour, just past the latest pit stop cycle, the #7 Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima managed to draft passed Andre Lotterer in the #1 Porsche LMP Team to move into second position, with the Japanese racer having shown great pace to close down the gap and then edge away when ahead.
The #9 Toyota continues to run in fourth, however after their early issues with an additional pit stop due to an open door, they are a lap adrift of the leading trio, while the #2 Porsche is making up ground after it’s earlier elongated pit stop, but is well down the field and out of contention for a podium finish – providing those ahead don’t hit trouble!
2nd – #31 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Prost/Senna/Canal
1st – #13 Vaillante Rebellion – Oreca 07-Gibson – Piquet Jr/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche
Vaillante Rebellion continue to lead in LMP2, with the #31, currently in the hands of Bruno Senna almost a minute clear of the sister #13 car of Nelson Piquet Jr, while third place is being held by the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Oliver Jarvis.
The #49 ARC Bratislava Ligier of Miroslav Konopka caused a slow zone when he spun at Indianapolis. The car has already fallen well out of contention, running last in class, more than seven laps down on the #22 G-Drive Racing Oreca.
The #43 Keating Motorsports machine then stopped on track with an apparent loss of power just as the slow zone was set to end for the Ligier, with Ben Keating behind the wheel of the Riley when it stopped. There was also a spin for the #17 IDEC Sport Racing of Paul Lafargue at the end of the hour at the exit of the first Mulsanne chicane.
In other news, the #28 TDS Racing machine of Matthieu Vaxiviere was handed a seven-minute stop and go penalty for causing the collision with the #82 Risi Competizione entry of Pierre Kaffer at the end of the fifth hour of the race. The Frenchman had been under investigation since the collision that saw the immediate retirement of Kaffer’s Ferrari 488 GTE.
1st – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Turner/Adam/Serra
2nd – #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – Priaulx/Tincknell/Derani
3rd – #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – Mücke/Pla/Johnson
Anything is still possible in GTE Pro, with the top twelve cars still on the same lap as the class leaders, with the #97 Aston Martin Racing machine still leading the way. Darren Turner has been in the car for a good amount of time, and is now almost half a minute clear of the leading Ford GT.
Another Ford sat third at the end of the hour, but no one in the field can play it easy as we head for one-third distance.
1st – #98 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda
2nd – #84 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari 488 GTE – Smith/Stevens/Vanthoor
3rd – #62 Scuderia Corsa – Ferrari 488 GTE – MacNeil/Sweedler/Bell
#98 Aston Martin Racing squad head the field in GTE Am, with the only issue for Paul Dalla Lana coming in the form of an investigation for a pit lane offence. The car had an eighty-second advantage over the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Robert Smith, while the third placed #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari is more than a lap adrift.
Richard Wee had the misfortune of spinning at the right-hander at the end of the Mulsanne straight. The Singapore driver was running fourteenth in class before he ended up facing the wrong way and stuck in the gravel trap. Yellow flags flew and a slow zone enforced while his car was removed by a tractor.