Audi has hit trouble in the eighth hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the No. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid continued to lead with Stephane Sarrazin at the wheel.
Shortly before the hour, the best placed of the R18’s driven by Oliver Jarvis was wheeled into the garage from fifth place, where the Audi mechanics completed a bodywork change at the front-end to resolve an as-yet unspecified problem.
It came after the team had completed an identical job on the recovering No. 7 car, which is 9 laps down on the leaders after a turbo problem in the second hour of the race.
Out front, the No. 6 Toyota crew led by 18 seconds from Neel Jani in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid after benefiting from a fortunately-timed Slow Zone when Kamui Kobayashi pitted to hand over to Sarrazin.
Jani took second from team-mate Timo Bernhard in the No. 1 car after the reigning WEC champion was unsighted by the low sun entering a Slow Zone at the Porsche Curves and had to pit to replace his flat-spotted tires.
The second Toyota runs in fourth place, with Kazuki Nakajima currently at the wheel, but is almost two minutes behind their team-mates.
In LMP2, the No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan continued to lead from the No. 36 Signatech-Alpine A460b, although Nicolas Lapierre was closing on Pierre Thiriet.
After the front-running Manor Oreca 05 Nissan dropped back first with a spin and then with rising oil and water temperatures, defending winners KCMG also hit trouble, as third-placed Tsugio Matsuda came to a halt on the Mulsanne Straight.
KCMG’s misfortune promoted the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 Nissan of Rene Rast to third and the team’s Gibson 015S Nissan to fourth.
GTE-Pro continued to be all about Ford and Ferrari, with Dirk Mueller taking over the leading No. 68 Ford GT from Sebastien Bourdais.
Bourdais had worked his way past the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Matteo Malucelli, which continues to be a thorn in the Blue Oval’s side preventing them from a clean sweep of the top three positions.
Olivier Pla holds third place in the No. 66 car, with Richard Westbrook fourth in the No. 69 car after taking over from Scott Dixon. The No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Nicki Thiim is the best of the rest in fifth.
The best battle on track was for the lead in GTE-Am, with just two seconds separating Pedro Lamy’s No. 98 Aston Martin, Pat Long in the No. 88 Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR and Jeff Segal’s No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.