Porsche has quite a story to tell at the three-hour mark of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The German manufacturer leads in all three categories it’s entered in: overall in LMP1, and in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.
After Alexander Wurz pitted the polesitting No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid after the two-hour and 45-minute mark, Timo Bernhard took the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid into the overall lead. It puts Porsche into the overall lead for the first time at Le Mans since its last run in the top category in 1998.
Bernhard had only made two pit stops while the rest of the top five in LMP1, the No. 7 Toyota, Nos. 2 and 1 Audi and No. 12 Rebellion R-One Toyota had made three at the three-hour mark.
Franck Mailleux leads LMP2 in the No. 34 Race Performance Oreca 03 Judd, owing more to staying out of trouble thus far in the car he shares with Jon Lancaster and Michel Frey. A quartet of Nissan-powered entries run second through fifth.
In GTE-Am, Patrick Long in the No. 77 Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR led the GTE runners overall in P17, with strategy paying dividends.
Meanwhile the two factory Porsches from Porsche Team Manthey, the No. 92 of Marco Holzer and the No. 91 of Jorg Bergmeister, ran 1-2 in GTE-Pro in the Porsche 911 RSRs. Both cars are on wet–weather tires as of the three-hour mark.
The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage (GTE-Am) and No. 74 Corvette C7.R (GTE-Pro) ran second and third in their respective classes.
After the deluge in the second hour that put the race under safety car conditions for more than 40 minutes, there was only 15 minutes of green flag time before another round of storms came through the circuit.
Heavy rain occurred on the Mulsanne Straight and there were two separate incidents. Howard Blank spun on the straight in the No. 62 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia (GTE-Am). Meanwhile there was contact involving two LMP2 cars, Karun Chandhok’s No. 48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03 Nissan and Michael Munemann’s No. 41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN Nissan, exiting Tertre Rouge.
Toyota’s No. 8 returned to the track after nearly 50 minutes in the garage spent fixing the damage from its incident on the Mulsanne in the first safety car period.