Toyota driver Sebastien Buemi held a three-lap lead over the second-placed Rebellion as daylight emerged over the 24 Hours of Le Mans heading into the final six hours.
Buemi completed the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s 27th pit stop of the race shortly before the end of the 18th hour and was comfortably ahead of Bruno Senna in the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson which has run a largely trouble-free race so far.
The No. 3 Rebellion continued to run third with Nathanael Berthon a further lap back on his teammate, while Mike Conway was two more laps adrift – and six behind the leader – in the No. 7 Toyota following that car’s lengthy stop for a turbo fault in the night.
United Autosports’ No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson led the LMP2 class heading into the final six hours with Paul di Resta eking out extra seconds over Roberto Gonzalez in the No. 38 Jota Sport Oreca, which had just over a minute of ground to make up.
Panis Racing was third with Julien Canal at the wheel of the No. 21 Oreca, but the Frenchman pitted right on the 18-hour mark to hand the position over to Mikkel Jensen.
G-Drive Racing’s Jensen was right on the Canal’s tail and that duel looks set to continue into the closing stages of the race.
In GTE-Pro, Alex Lynn in the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE was gradually increasing his rough half-minute margin over James Calado in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo following the recent completion of the 18th pit stops for both cars.
In third was Richard Westbrook driving the No. 95 Aston, one lap down on Calado and a further two laps clear of the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon which hit trouble in the night with a mechanical problem.
TF Sport continued to lead GTE-Am with Salih Yoluc aiming to extend the two and a half minute clearance he had over Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche driver Christian Ried.