Porsche is still leading after 17 hours having shared the lead with Audi several times. The LMP1 field is now dominated by the two German car makers with Toyota struggling in P7 and P8 with the #1 and #2 TS040 Hybrids. The top runners have been the #19 and #17 for Porsche and #9 and #7 for Audi. So far the race has nine retirements including the two Porsche 911s that caught fire.
The #21 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is the only retirement in LMP1 with the #22 and #23 cars experiencing the dark side of Le Mans as they struggle to keep up with GTE and LMP2 field further down in 44th and 45th places. The #47 KCMG Oreca-05 Nissan has managed to hold the lead in LMP2 for as long as we can recall, leading G-Drive Racing and Jota Sport. Meanwhile, Nissan is not the only team struggling in LMP1 – Rebellion Racing’s best car is currently running 16th overall, with the other car in 34th.
GTE field may be the slowest in the race but it’s filled with the most action. Aston Martin and Ferrari are fighting to retain the lead in the top Pro category, with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari currently in P1. The #64 Corvette Racing C7.R has held the lead for quite some too and is currently running in P2 ahead of the #91 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR. The #98 Aston Martin Racing holds the lead in GTE-Am category leading the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari while the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari sits in P3.
There have been several incidents in the race so far including minor spins as well as crashes. The #18 Porsche crashed into the barriers last night which is one of the reasons it’s currently running in P6 and not up above with its sister cars. Signatech-Alpine also spun around into gravel bringing out the safety car for a brief moment.
The #22 Nissan hit an animal at the track shortly after midnight but managed to stay in the race. The #18 Porsche crashed into the barriers again, a new nose had to be fitted for it to continue racing. The biggest incidents of the night was caused by the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari when it caught fire in the pits, the car was pushed back into the garage. The #99 Aston Martin crashed into the #46 LMP2 Ligier at around 4am while sister car #96 Aston Martin crashed heavily while coming out of the Porsche Curves several hours later.
We are only left with less than six hours to go before the race comes to an end. It’s still early to make a prediction as to who will grab the win, the final hour of the race will be crucial. There are no doubts about a possible win by Porsche as they have made it so far proving the reliability of their cars. Audi also stands a great chance of winning if they close the gap and minimize pit sessions towards the end of the race.