Audi is on its way to take its 13th 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, although it is no longer the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro that is leading the race.
Just before the 16-hour mark Marcel Fässler returned his Audi to the pits, with what turned out to be a supercharger issue. The team lost over 23 minutes in the pits solving the issue and the No. 2 lost the lead as a result, as Marc Gené passed the stricken Audi on lap 252. Mark Webber passed Fässler in the standings moments later.
A crash of the No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari of Viktor Shaitar at the Porsche Curves initially resulted in a slow zone, but with barrier damage that needed fixing meant race control sent out the safety car on lap 255.
The safety came back in two laps later, but the race only went back to green on lap 260, half an hour after the safety car was deployed.
Mark Webber was unable to match Gené’s pace and by lap 274 the Australian was a lap down on the race leader, who then came into the pits for another regular pit stop.
No changes in LMP2 where the No. 35 G-Drive Racing by OAK Racing Ligier of Mardenborough, Shulzhitskiy and Brundle kept the No. 36 Signatech-Alpine Alpina A450b and the No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Ligier behind.
Race Performance was best of the rest, but a penalty for speeding in the pit lane meant they lost fourth place to the No. 38 Jota Sport Zytek of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey.
GTE-Pro sees the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage back in the lead. Into the 18th hour Stefan Muecke closed the gap to the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella and soon overtook him to Aston Martin the class lead again.
Just before 9 a.m. Muecke and Fisichella handed over to Senna and Bruni, with the pair engaging in an intense fight for the lead at the 18-hour mark.
Aston Martin Racing’s David Heinemeier Hansson still leads in GTE-Am in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage that he shares with Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard.