A huge shunt for defending Le Mans 24 Hours champion Loic Duval has brought proceedings to a halt during the first free practice session of the week.

The Frenchman, driving the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron alongside Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi, was on a fast lap when he crashed at the Porsche Curves having just risen to second on the timesheets after 90mins.

Damage to the car was extensive with much of the rear-end, side and roof of the car removed in the evidently high-speed impact, which also brought down the outer catch fencing.

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Duval, who won his first Le Mans 24 Hours last year alongside Kristensen and Allan McNish, is currently in the medical centre.

An official ACO statement confirmed his condition as 'encouraging'.

"At 17h05 today Wednesday 11 June, the No.1 Audi left the track at very high speed at the Porsche Curves, at Marshal Post No.131. The incident occurred during the free practice session for the 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"Conscious, the driver was taken into the care of the ACO's Medical Servicces, extracted from the car to an ambulance annd then immediately transported to the Le Mans' Centre Hospitalier where he will undergo further examination.

"His condition is encouraging."