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Nakajima Still Leads As Eight Hour-Mark Passes at Le Mans

Toyota up front as 2014 Le Mans surpasses eight-hour mark…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Up front in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid continues to lead overall, still in the hands of Kazuki Nakajima with the pair of Audis trailing by more than a minute.

OAK Racing’s No. 35 Ligier JS P2 Nissan, now driven by Jann Mardenborough after taking over from Mark Shulzhitskiy, leads in LMP2. The young Englishman has put in a number of storming laps – even getting down to the 3:39 range in race pace – to hold the gap over the fellow Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Thiriet by TDS Racing and No. 34 Race Performance Oreca 03 Judd.

While the LMP1 and LMP2 classes have stabilized, the GTE-Pro battle represented the top action between the seventh and eighth hour.

Darren Turner, Giancarlo Fisichella and Richard Westbrook engaged in a great scrap for the lead. Westbrook had the lead in the No. 74 Corvette C7.R before Turner got the top spot into the first chicane on the Mulsanne in the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage.

Fisichella, in the polesitting No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia, then got past Westbrook and later past Turner to take the lead. But Turner got Westbrook back after that, and again into the first chicane.

The lead between the three has swapped based on pit stops. One car that lost time was the No. 73 Corvette C7.R, as the air stem to jack up the car broke off. That leaves that car more than a lap and a half behind the lead.

GTE-Am’s top three has remained unchanged with the Nos. 98 and 95 Aston Martin Vantages ahead of the No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari F458 Italia. The pair of Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSRs, the No. 88 Proton and No. 77 Dempsey Racing-Proton entries, run fourth and fifth in class.

Alexandre Imperatori, early-race LMP2 leader in the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan, had an accident exiting the Porsche Curves, just before the Ford Chicane. With heavy front end damage, including the suspension, that has knocked that car out of the race.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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