Sebastien Buemi enjoyed a 14-second over Toyota teammate Mike Conway following the opening hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday as one of the leading non-hybrid LMP1s dropped out of contention at the front on the first lap.

Starting from pole in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Buemi was able to make a good start to retain his lead over Conway, only for the #7 Toyota to slip back ahead on the second lap, with a couple of seconds separating the two drivers.

Buemi managed to get back ahead of Lap 5 before pulling out a gap ahead of their first pit stops around 30 minutes into the race, and was then able to gain a further eight seconds on pit road. At the hour mark, his lead stood at 14 seconds.

Both Toyotas had managed to pull out a healthy gap over the privateer non-hybrid LMP1 runners, with Stephane Sarrazin sitting more than 50 seconds back in third place for SMP Racing following a spirited battle early on with Rebellion Racing's Thomas Laurent, who was three seconds further back in P4.

Laurent is the leading Rebellion driver after Andre Lotterer colliding with DragonSpeed's Ben Hanley in the #10 BR Engineering BR1 at the first chicane, leaving the former's car without a nose. The Rebellion team was able to complete a quick repair on the car after Lotterer returned to the pits, but the incident still put him more than three minutes back from the leaders.

Manor-Ginetta's ongoing struggles continued as both its cars hit early trobule at Le Mans, leaving them far behind the other LMP1 cars, while ByKolles almost missed the start following an issue for Tom Dillmann on the grid that was followed by a spin on the formation lap. The driver ultimately got going to join the field in time for lights out, though.

Jean-Eric Vergne was able to recover from a poor start to jump into the lead of LMP2 at the opening round of pit stops, gaining time on the cars around him. TDS Racing's Louc Duval sat eight seconds back in second place at the hour mark, with Nicolas Lapierre running third for Signatech Alpine Matmut.

Porsche managed to forge an early advantage in GTE-Pro, led by Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR. Co-driver Kevin Estre enjoyed a close early fight with Gianmaria Bruni in the #91 car before getting the jump ahead of the opening round of pit stops, and then handing over to Christensen. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's Dirk Muller moved up to P2 in class after the first round of stops, sitting two seconds back from Christensen, with Bruni running P3.

GTE-Am saw Gulf Racing make a flying start with its #86 Porsche 911 RSR, led by Ben Barker. Barker lost the class lead briefly before the first round of stops to Spirit of Race's Giancarlo Fisichella, but was able to move back ahead with a swift pit stop. Fisichella sits second in class, with Matteo Cairoli running third in the #88 Porsche of Dempsey-Proton Racing.

 

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