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WEC - Toyota in charge as race enters its final quarter

WEC - 2916 24 Heures du Mans - Race report after 18 Hours

As the clock started its second tour of the clock for the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota Gazoo Racing was holding strong at the head of the field.  While the No.6 TS050 HYBRID had been leading for much of the night, at just past 07h00 this morning Sebastien Buemi in the No.5 passed Mike Conway in the No.6. 

Behind the Japanese entries, and the only other car on the same lap, is the No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Jani-Dumas-Lieb, with 30 seconds covering the top 3 cars after 18 hours of racing.  One lap in arrears is the No.8 Audi, while the sister R18 is 10 laps back after being delayed by a number of technical issues.

The World Champions in the No.1 Porsche are back on track but completely out of contention after losing time for a two-and-a-half hour stop for a water pump change and repairs.

Just one LMP1 Privateer continues to run, the No.12 Rebellion Racing entry, but a long way down the order.  The No.13 is no longer circulating following an exit from the track by Mathéo Tuscher, while the No.4 ByKolles suffered a fire at 07h15 this morning which saw it as an instant retirement.

The second half of the race has not treated the LMGTE Pro AF Corse Ferrari team kindly.  At 05h05 the No.51 Ferrari 488 GTE of Bruni-Calado-Pier Guidi was posted as a retirement due to an overheating engine, followed shortly after by the retirement of the No.71 of Rigon-Bird-Bertolini after a wheel rim failed, sending Rigon hard into a gravel trap and out of the race.

Both Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR factory entries (non WEC) have retired, one with engine problems and the other with a broken right front suspension mount.  The Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 leads the class ahead of the two Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA entries but Aston Martin Racing’s No.95 is hunting down a podium placing.

Daylight arrived and the order in the LMP2 category went a little haywire!  The Signatech Alpine of Lapierre-Richelmi-Menezes leads the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA by almost a lap, with the No.37 SMP Racing BR01 and No.42 Strakka Racing Gibson having made strong progress through the night.

However, in the space of 10 minutes the No.35 Baxi DC Racing in the hands of Nelson Panciatici went off hard and into retirement at the first Mulsanne chicane while 4th in class; the No.46 Thiriet by TDS entry hit a bollard, went off at Mulsanne corner and into retirement, and the No.30 ESM of Ed Brown went off at Tertre Rouge but got going back to the pits for repairs.

In LMGTE Am the leading WEC competitors is still the No.88 Abu-Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche, one lap behind the class leader. Third is the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari 458.