The two Toyota Gazoo Racing entries extended their lead at the head of the 24 Hours of Le Mans field after the third hour, an hour that started with the continuation of the slow zone caused by Michael Wainwright‘s crash in the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche at Indianapolis.
After losing the lead as a result of his pitstop and the slow zone, Sébastien Buemi set about catching Mike Conway in the #7 car, getting within half-a-second of the Brit before handing control over to ‘rookie’ Fernando Alonso. Alonso has shown good form during his time in the car, clawing back the deficit to the #7, now in the hands of José María López.
Driver changes were the hot topic of the hour, as the starters ended their first stints. Three-times Le Mans winner André Lotterer managed to assume fifth place after his early troubles when the DragonSpeed of Ben Hanley entered the pits; but the German-Belgian made way for Bruno Senna.
Thomas Laurent ended a long battle with the #17 SMP Racing of Stéphane Sarrazin by giving control to Mathias Beche. The #3 Rebellion Racing stays in fourth place.
G-Drive still in control of LMP2 field
In a quiet hour for the LMP2 field, Jean-Éric Vergne ended his stint with a comfortable lead in the #26 G-Drive – driven now by Andrea Pizzitola – over the #36 Signatech Alpine, in the hands of André Negrāo.
Ford and Porsche provide the entertainment in GTE Pro
Hour three was lit up by an awesome battle for fourth place in class between the #66 Ford of Olivier Pla, the #93 Porsche of Nick Tandy and the #69 Ford of Richard Westbrook. After studying the rear win of Tandy for several laps, Westbrook eventually found a way past on the Mulsanne Straight. However, after the pitstops, Tandy managed to work his way up to fourth.
The retro-liveried Porsches kept their advantage at the front, Frédéric Makowiecki in #91 being chased by a fired up Laurens Vanthoor in #92. Both drivers have been shown the black and white flag for constant abuse of track limits over the course of the hour.
Porsche up front in GTE Am
Heading into the fourth hour of the race, Julien Andlauer leads in GTE Am, as Porsche have started to stretch their legs. The JMW Motorsport Ferrari, in the hands of Cooper MacNeil chases him, 30 seconds behind with former leaders Dempsey-Proton Racing settling into third.
2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Standings After 3 Hours
1. #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – José María López
2. #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Fernando Alonso – Sébastien Buemi – Kazuki Nakajima
3. #3 Rebellion Racing – Rebellion R13 – Gibson – Mathias Beche – Thomas Laurent – Gustavo Menezes
1. #26 G-Drive Racing – Oreca 07 – Gibson – Roman Rusinov – Andrea Pizzitola – Jean-Éric Vergne
2. #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut – Alpine A470 – Gibson – Nicolas Lapierre – André Negrâo – Pierre Thiriet
3. #23 Panis Barthez Competition – Ligier JS P217 – Gibson – Thimothé Buret – Julien Canal – Will Stevens
1. #91 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Richard Lietz – Gianmaria Bruni – Frédéric Makowiecki
2. #92 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Michael Christensen – Kevin Estre – Laurens Vanthoor
3. #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA – Ford GT – Joey Hand – Dirk Müller – Sébastien Bourdais
1. #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Julien Andlauer – Matt Campbell – Christian Ried
2. #84 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari 488 GTE – Liam Griffin – Cooper MacNeil – Jeff Segal
3. #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Matteo Cairoli – Khaled Al Qubaisi – Giorgio Roda