Toyota Gazoo Racing has held onto its one-two throughout the first six hours of the race, as issues have befallen the Glickenhaus Racing and Alpine Elf Team entries.
The duo of Japanese cars spent most of the first quarter of the race on each other’s rear wings, with the #7 holding position ahead of the #8. A small off from Jose Maria Lopez let the #8 back through, but they were never split by more than a second on track. At the close of hour six, the #7 is back in the lead, around 7s ahead of the sister car.
The #709 was the first Hypercar into the garage after an engine sensor needed to be replaced. An hour later, the then third placed #36 Alpine was in for a clutch change. Only the two Toyotas and the #708 have not had a trip into the garage, but the privateer entry is almost a lap down on the Japanese duo.
Antonio Felix Da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Will Stevens have done a great job in the #38 JOTA throughout the first quarter of the race, one and a half minutes ahead of the rest of the class. After the turbulent start, Da Costa optimised to get the JOTA into the lead, a position in class he hasn’t given up since he took it. At the end of the hour, JOTA held a one-two with both cars owing a stop. The lead of class is net for the #38 but the #28 is likely to be shuffled down the order a bit when it next goes into the pits.
The #9 Prema Orlen Team, which took the lead off the start, and #5 Team Penske have been cars to watch in class. Both had had great opening quarters third and fifth respectively. The COOL Racing entry of Yifei Ye, Ricky Taylor and Niklas Kruetten are fourth, with only the Prema owing a stop in this pit cycle out of the three.
After serving their one minute stop and go for causing the collision with the #22 United Autosports in the first corner, the #31 WRT is 12th in class, around a minute and a half off of Gonzalez at the front of the class.
Vector Sport had a great opening stint, with Nico Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais bringing the car through the field to be 11th in class. Sadly, when Ryan Cullen got in the car just after the four hour mark, he went too fast into Indianapolis and hit the barriers. After losing time being retrieved from the gravel and pitting for a new nose, the car had to come back into the garage for a front right wishbone replacement. It’s back on track now but two laps down on the rest of the LMP2 field.
The #30 Duqueine Team had it even worse than the Vector after having an issue with their Automobile Club de l’Ouest data signalling box. Losing about an hour and ten minutes to the repair, they fell 20 laps off the leaders and end the hour a lap down on the last-place running GTE Am car.
The fight in GTE Pro got a bit more interesting as the Porsche GT Team #92 has split the leading Corvette Racing duo. The pole-sitting #64 was past using the pit strategy, now running third in class behind the #92 and the #63 sister Corvette. Nick Tandy – now back on board the #64 – is about ten seconds behind the second-placed Porsche, whilst Antonio Garcia has a 30s lead on the class.
As the temperature has cooled, the Aston Martins have come back into play in GTE Am, with the #98 Northwest Aston Martin Racing splitting #79 WeatherTech Racing and #77 Ddempsey-Proton Racing Porsches in the class podium positions. The pole-starting #61 Kessel Racing remains the highest placed Am Ferrari, still seventh in class.
The #93 Michael Fassbender Proton Competition has had a faultless first six hours, running 15th in class.