In the race for the overall victory between the Toyota Gazoo Racing pair, José María López started to stretch out a gap to Fernando Alonso when the Spaniard hit traffic in the #8 car. However, Toyota have continued to see rear punctures plague their early evening – Alonso and López pitting in tandem just before half past the hour.
Meanwhile in the privateer field, Jenson Button and the #11 SMP Racing got their race underway after over two hours in the pits, whilst ByKolles saw their race end prematurely.
Dominik Kraihamer made contact with the #80 Ebimotors Porsche of Erik Maris at the first section of the Porsche Curves, spearing into the wall on both sides causing irreparable damage. Fortunately, Kraihamer walked away as the Safety Car made yet another lengthy appearance for debris retrieval and barrier repair – 30 minutes in total.
The #1 Rebellion was forced back into the garage for a minor spell due to another clutch pressure problem, Bruno Senna still at the wheel. Its sister car, the #3 at the hands of Mathias Beche, also struggled after being held in the pits. The delay meant that the #17 SMP Racing of Egor Orudzhev could enjoy some breathing space in third.
After the Safety Car peeled in, López and Alonso battled in amongst the excessive traffic, the latter latching onto the tail of the Argentine before passing him on the Mulsanne just shy of eight o’clock local time in a move that looked predetermined.
G-Drive still at the head of LMP2 class
The Safety Car put a halt to the sparse action in LMP2. The #26 G-Drive of Roman Rusinov – formerly of Andrea Pizzitola – still leads, although Pierre Thiriet in the #36 Signatech Alpine had started to make indents into Pizzitola’s sizeable lead. Thiriet has been left frustrated by his position behind the Safety Car, forced to cede the advantage back to the G-Drive and, eventually, second place to Thimotheé Buret in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition car.
With Kraihamer’s retirement and DragonSpeed, Rebellion, Ginetta and SMP Racing’s various problems, the lead LMP2 car stands fifth overall.
Giovinazzi leads Ferrari revival in GTE Pro
In a contrasting hour for Ferrari, Antonio Giovinazzi in the #52 AF Corse car had slowly crept up behind the #69 Ford USA of Scott Dixon, passing the Verizon IndyCar Series driver into the first chicane on the Mulsanne. Dixon tried to fight back on the next stretch, but the Italian stood firm in his first visit to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The contrast came courtesy of the #71 Ferrari of Miguel Molina, handed a three minute stop-go penalty for failing to adhere a red light at pit exit. At the end of the hour, Molina’s team-mate Sam Bird pulled into the garage with a currently undefined problem. Ford’s misery was compounded by the right rear suspension collapsing on Billy Johnson‘s #66 car before the Ford chicanes, forcing him into the pits after a whole lap of crawling.
Kevin Estre continues to lead at the head of the class in the pink #92 Porsche, ahead of the impressive Nicky Catsburg in the #81 BMW MTEK car.
Porsche still the package to beat in GTE Am
Little change in the GTE Am category. Matt Campbell in the Dempsey-Proton #77 Porsche still leads, over a minute ahead of second placed Liam Griffin in the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari. Another Porsche, in the form of Team Project 1‘s Jörg Burgmeister, sits in third place.
2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Standings After 5 Hours
1. #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Fernando Alonso – Sébastien Buemi – Kazuki Nakajima
2. #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – José María López
3. #17 SMP Racing – BR Engineering BR1 – Gibson – Matevos Isaakyan – Egor Orudzhev – Stéphane Sarrazin
1. #26 G-Drive Racing – Oreca 07 – Gibson – Roman Rusinov – Andrea Pizzitola – Jean-Éric Vergne
2. #23 Panis Barthez Competition – Ligier JS P217 – Gibson – Thimothé Buret – Julien Canal – Will Stevens
3. #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut – Alpine A470 – Gibson – Nicolas Lapierre – André Negrâo – Pierre Thiriet
1. #92 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Michael Christensen – Kevin Estre – Laurens Vanthoor
2. #81 BMW Team MTEK – BMW M8 GTE – Nicky Catsburg – Philipp Eng – Martin Tomczyk
3. #52 AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE – Pipo Derani – Antonio Giovinazzi – Toni Vilander
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. #56 Team Project 1 – Porsche 911 RSR – Jörg Burgmeister – Patrick Lindsey – Egidio Perfetti