Now 30 seconds ahead for Buemi
And in one fell swoop, the gap between leader Sebastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota and follower Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota has grown to 30 seconds. The reason: Conway got into a slow zone on his so-called out-lap after the most recent pit stop, Buemi didn’t.
Riding out of the GTE-Am leader
The GTE-Am class-leading WeatherTech Porsche #79 (MacNeil/Andlauer/Merrill) with Thomas Merrill at the wheel is plowing through the gravel bed in the Dunlop chicane area – just fine!
An Aston Martin is out
The end of the D’Station Aston Martin #777 (Hoshino/Fujii/Fagg) has just been officially announced. The reason is not yet clear, but could be in the area of the wheel suspension.
The fact is: It is the second failure in the race after that of the Project 1 Porsche #46 (Cairoli/Pedersen/Leutwiler). Both cars were entered in the GTE-Am class. Two failures, that means in reverse: After almost nine hours, 60 cars are still on the road!
Buemi opens a small gap
At the head of the field, Sebastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota (Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa) has now pulled away from teammate Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez) by more than four seconds.
Meanwhile, Porsche has restored the one-two lead in the GTE Pro class. Here, #92 (Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor) continues to lead, now again in front of #91 (Bruni/Lietz/Makowiecki) and only then the AF Corse Ferrari #51 (Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra).
Back to race pace!
All local yellow phases have been lifted, and the 13.6-kilometer route is back at full speed!
And a second incident
There is currently a local yellow phase (slow zone) not only in the Dunlop chicane, but also at the entrance to the Hunaudieres straight. A car is also stranded there.
Fassbender in the gravel bed!
The Proton Porsche #93 (Fassbender/Campbell/Robichon), which Michael Fassbender is also driving at this moment, is stuck in the gravel bed of the Dunlop chicane after a spin. He can’t get out of there on his own. There are yellow flags at this point.
Ferrari cracks Porsche double lead
There has been a change in the top 3 in the GTE Pro class. The AF Corse Ferrari #51 (Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra) is now in second place between the two Porsche 911 RSR-19 entered by the Manthey team.
Corvette is driving again
But not quite the end for the #63 Corvette (Garcia/J. Taylor/Catsburg), which initially led in the GTE-Pro class. Apparently they managed to repair the damaged left rear wheel suspension. With a deficit of 15 laps to the top of the class you are now back on the road. Jordan Taylor is behind the wheel.
Demand from Buemi over the radio
Radio message from leader Sebastien Buemi in the direction of the Toyota command post: “Guys, can you ask Mike what he thinks? We’re pushing like crazy here. I’m not sure if that’s that clever.” This of course means Buemi’s direct pursuer Mike Conway.
Change of leadership in the pits
During the eleventh pit stop of the race, the lead between the two Toyotas changed hands again. Sebastien Buemi in the #8 car had a fastest stop, including the start and exit, than Mike Conway in the #7 car.
This puts Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa (#8), who started from pole, ahead of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez (#7) again.
Intermediate status after 8 of 24 hours
A third of the race distance has been completed. Here is an overview of the current top 3 in each of the four classes:
Toyota #7 (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez)
Toyota #8 (Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa)
Glickenhaus #709 (Briscoe/Westbrook/Mailleux)
Jota-Oreca #38 (Gonzalez/Felix Da Costa/Stevens)
Prema-Oreca #9 (Kubica/Deletraz/Colombo)
TDS-Oreca #13 (de Vries/Beche/van der Helm)
Porsche #92 (Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor)
Porsche #91 (Bruni/Lietz/Makowiecki)
AF-Corse-Ferrari #51 (Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra)
WeatherTech Porsche #79 (MacNeil/Andlauer/Merrill)
Dempsey Proton Porsche #77 (Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell)
TF Aston Martin #33 (Keating/Chaves/Sörensen)
© Motorsport Images
Change of leadership with announcement
Meanwhile, the #7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez) has now taken the lead again from the #8 Toyota (Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa). However, it was not a maneuver won by Mike Conway, but rather a passing by Sebastien Buemi.
Out for the Corvette #63!
Antonio Garcia has just confirmed that the race for the Corvette #63 (Garcia/J. Taylor/Catsburg) is now fully over after the (unsuccessful) repair of the rear wheel suspension.
“That’s it, suspension damage. It happened at the worst possible moment, just as I was turning into the Ford chicane. At first I thought ‘pickup’ off the tires, but on the start/finish straight I realized something was broken . I had to do a full lap and at first I thought it was a puncture, but in fact the whole car fell apart,” said a disappointed Garcia.
Formation flight by Toyota
At the front of the field, the two Toyotas do their laps in formation. #8 (Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa) leads by less than a second over #7 (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez)!
Glickenhaus continues to slide
While the Glickenhaus #708 (Pla/Dumas/Derani) has been repaired in the pits for a few laps after Olivier Pla spun, it has already fallen behind the leading cars in the LMP2 class in the overall classification of the race.
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