Pre-race favourites Toyota consolidated their status by sprinting off into a controlled 1-2 formation, led initially by the #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, before being leapfrogged through the first pit-stops by Mike Conway in the #7 sister car.
Now in the hands of Jose Maria Lopez, after three hours the Argentine leads by 22secs from the pole-winning Brendon Hartley.
In third place, the #708 Glickenhaus continues to keep the factory leaders honest in just under 90secs adrift, while the Alpine and #709 Glickenhaus are just over two minutes back but, crucially, remain on the lead lap.
In LMP2, there was drama seconds after the green flag after the leading two WRT cars - #31 and #41 - unintentionally merged either side of the #22 United Autosports USA car between them to squeeze it into a spin that sent it backwards into the gravel trap.
Though the United car was fished out and is back on track, a subsequent pit-stop for it means it is playing catch up, as is the RealTeam by WRT car after it sustained a puncture and rear-end damage in the collision. With stewards ruling the #31 car at fault for the incident, it received a stop-go penalty.
As such, the LMP2 class has been largely dominated by the #38 Jota car, which pulled out a large lead over the evenly-matched pack in the hands of Antonio Felix da Costa. With the pit-stops in full swing, on the hour (19.00 local), Team Penske held second position from the Prema car. Cool Racing and Panis Racing complete the top five.
In GTE Pro, Corvette Racing have held 1-2 from the start with the #63 C8.R more than a minute clear of the sister #64 car. It is coming under increasing pressure from both factory Porsches, with the AF Corse Ferraris also well in the mix.
In GTE Am, the WeatherTech Racing Porsche holds a lead of almost a minute itself over the Dempsey-Proton Porsche and the Northwest Aston Martin
While no cars have been classified as a DNF, the #47 Algarve Pro Racing car overheated on the slow warm-up, losing it six laps to the leading LMP2 Jota while in the pits.