Thomas Laurent continues to lead the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson with two hours to go, but has LMP1 class leader Timo Bernhard in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid closing in.
Fighting back from an MGU change in hour four, Bernhard unlapped himself from Laurent and is now running on average 12 seconds faster per lap than the LMP2 class leader.
The lead margin stood at just over three minutes at the turn of the hour, when Matt McMurry’s spin into the gravel at Mulsanne Corner brought out a Slow Zone.
Laurent is currently in the third and final leg of a triple stint, having lost a minute at his last pitstop when faulty brake lights required his mechanics to change the rear bodywork.
While powerless to prevent Bernhard from eating into his advantage, Laurent has a commanding two-lap lead over the second place LMP2 runner, the No. 35 Signatech-Alpine A470-Gibson, which runs third overall with Andre Negrao at the wheel.
More starter motor problems for the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion of Nelson Piquet Jr. has put the Brazilian over a minute behind, although he is steadily closing on Negrao.
In GTE-Pro, the No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Jordan Taylor inherited the lead when Daniel Serra completed his double-stint in the No. 97 Aston Martin.
The Brazilian twice passed the Corvette during his spell behind the wheel, initially taking Jan Magnussen into the second chicane on the Mulsanne before repeating the trick on Taylor at the same corner.
Jonny Adam rejoined second, but will close in on the Corvette when Taylor hands over to Antonio Garcia at the next round of stops.
Fred Makowiecki holds third in the sole remaining No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR after Michael Christensen’s accident during the night at the Ford Chicane, while Harry Tincknell sits fourth in the best-placed of the Ford GT contingent.
Will Stevens has taken over from Rob Smith at the wheel of the No. 84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488, which continues to lead the GTE-Am from the Spirit of Race No. 55 Ferrari driven by Marco Cioci.