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Conway Moves Ahead of Buemi to Lead Opening Hour

Toyota settles into early 1-2 at Le Mans as opening-hour drama unfolds in LMP2…

Photo: MPS Agency

Mike Conway moved ahead of his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Sebastien Buemi at the first round of pit stops to lead the 24 Hours of Le Mans after the first racing hour.

Buemi led away from pole position in the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid and initially built a small lead before Conway in the sister No. 7 car reeled in the Swiss driver.

Conway was right on Buemi’s tail when he pitted after 11 laps, with Buemi staying out for an additional lap.

The No. 7 Toyota crew beat the No. 8 squad by three seconds on pit road, bringing Conway out into the lead. After one hour, the Brit led from Buemi by 3.9 seconds.

Glickenhaus Racing established itself in third and fourth after Olivier Pla and Franck Mailleux got around Alpine Elf Team’s Nicolas Lapierre at the start.

Pla, who pitted when Buemi did, was eight seconds off second place after half an hour and 18 seconds behind the No. 8 Toyota after 60 minutes.

There was drama in the early stages of the LMP2 race as the front row-starting No. 22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson slid deep into the Turn 1 gravel after getting squeezed between the two Team WRT Orecas.

Both the United car driven by Will Owen and the No. 41 Realteam WRT machine of Ferdinand Habsburg made lengthy pit stops to repair damage, while WRT’s pole-sitter Rene Rast incurred a one-minute penalty for causing a collision.

The melee resulted in Prema’s Robert Kubica rising to the lead, but the Polish driver was jumped at the first round of pit stops by JOTA driver Antonio Felix da Costa.

Da Costa led Kubica by six seconds at the one-hour point, while Jonathan Aberdein overtook Team Penske’s Felipe Nasr to get two JOTA cars into the top three.

The No. 23 United Oreca made strong progress in the hands of Alex Lynn, who reached as high as net third until his car suffered a right-front tire delamination that forced an off-sequence stop early in his second stint.

Corvette Racing controlled the start of the GTE-Pro race with Nick Tandy leading away from pole position and Antonio Garcia working as tail gunner in second place.

Tandy led through the opening round of pit stops, with Garcia approximately three seconds behind, while Kevin Estre was trying to track down the Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs in his third-placed No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19, with four seconds to make up.

Gianmaria Bruni sat fourth in the other Porsche, ahead of the two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evos.

Porsches were strong in the GTE-Am category as Alessio Picariello, Matteo Cairoli, Julien Andlauer and Harry Tincknell ran first to fourth after AF Corse Ferrari driver Vincent Abril started from pole.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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