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Brendon Hartley has been handed sizeable lead in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours following the fourth hour of competition after getting an advantage through a long safety car period

Damage to the barrier in the wake of Loic Duval's shunt at the end of the third hour - despite the car itself being incredibly repaired in less than five minutes -, would force the safety car to come out for a prolonged period of time.

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However, the situation was made worse when an engine blow for the #88 GT Porsche deposited oil just before the race was due to get underway, forcing the safety to be extended to more than 45mins in total.

Crucially, the two safety car groups would break up the leading two Porsches, with the #17 car of Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber gaining a lead of more than a minute over the #18 Porsche as a result before its latest stop.

With several cars now slightly out-of-sync with their pit-stops, the #9 Audi - the only R18 not to have any issues yet - has risen to second place in the hands of Filip Albuquerque after taking its stop under the safety car, the Portuguese driver now 18secs behind the front.

After its puncture, the #7 Audi of Benoit Treluyer is now third - but almost a minute behind - from the fourth place #18 Porsche of Marc Lieb, which was the big loser in the safety car , and the #19 Porsche being driven by Earl Bamber. Despite having no dry pace against Audi and Porsche, Toyota remains on the lead lap in sixth and seventh. The #8 Audi, after its crash, is a lap down in eighth.

In the LMP2 class, KCMG maintains its lead from the OAK Ligier now, which is running ahead of the Thiriet by TDS Oreca, the Greaves Gibson and the Signatech Alpine.

In the GTE Pro class, a four-way scrap for the lead has emerged in the wake of the safety car, with the sole Corvette heading the #97 Aston Martin, before Darren Turner spun on the exit of the chicane, promoting the #99 Aston Martin and the #71 Ferrari ahead.

Despite being nudged off onto the gravel by an LMP1 Porsche, the SMP Ferrari has now risen to the top of the GTE Am class.

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