Jose Maria Lopez leads the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota with six hours down, albeit with a reduced lead after a Safety Car period helped draw Kazuki Nakajima into closer contention at the front of the pack.

Toyota continued to pull clear of the rest of the LMP1 field heading into the evening at Le Mans, putting the non-hybrid privateers a lap down as the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid continued to forge clear at the front amid the first reports of light rain.

While Fernando Alonso was able to shave some time off the #7 Toyota's lead in the sister #8 car, cutting the gap to less than 50 seconds by the end of his stint, a first Safety Car period called following an off for the #43 RLR M Sport LMP2 entry saw the cars get put in different trains after completing pit stops.

This caused the #8 Toyota - which Alonso had passed over to Kazuki Nakajima after completing his stint - to lose over 20 seconds to the #7 car, with Jose Maria Lopez assuming duties in the lead after taking over from Kamui Kobayashi.

But the race came back towards Nakajima when a second Safety Car was called towards the end of the sixth hour after a heavy crash for the #64 Chevrolet Corvette at the Porsche Curves, with both Toyotas being put behind the same Safety Car.

As a result, Nakajima's deficit to Lopez stood at just 10 seconds once they got back up to speed, leaving things finely poised heading into the second quarter of the race.

SMP Racing managed to get the jump on the #3 Rebellion entry to move into P3 and P4 with its pair of BR Engineering BR1 cars, only for a fightback from Thomas Laurent to see him pass Mikhail Aleshin and re-claim third place at the beginning of Hour 7.

The crash for Marcel Fassler in the #64 Corvette occurred as he tried to pass through traffic, only to be side-swiped by Satoshi Hoshino in the #88 Porsche 911 RSR racing in the GTE-Am class, sending him into a concrete barrier.

While Fassler was able to get out of the car unassisted, his car was left with significant damage that is likely to end the #64 crew's race.

The tight fight at the front of LMP2 raged on through much of the early evening, with Job van Uitert and Roman Rusinov both enjoying spells in the lead for G-Drive Racing ahead of the #36 Signatech Alpine entry.

But shortly before the second Safety Car, Andre Negrao was able to take Signatech Alpine back into the lead of the class, sitting just a second clear of Rusinov at the top of the hour.

In GTE-Pro, Daniel Serra produced a stellar stint for AF Corse in the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo as he edged clear of Laurens Vanthoor in the #92 Porsche to take the lead of the class, but with the #63 Corvette, #67 Ford GT and two more factory-run Porsches all within spitting distance, the fight remains wide open.

Keating Motorsports cycled to the front in GTE-Am with its #85 Ford GT through Felipe Fraga through the sixth hour, running ahead of the entries from JMW Motorsport and Team Project 1.

Comments

Loading Comments...