An accident for GTE-Am driver Alexander West at the Porsche Curves led to the first safety car period of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
West’s No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo spun going through the high-speed set of corners and was pictured impacting the right-side barrier and facing the oncoming traffic.
This resulted in the deployment of the safety car, which prompted Toyota to bring its No. 7 car in from the lead of the race to release Kazuki Nakajima in the No. 8 out front.
The No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid lost time to its sister car in the fifth and sixth hours, first when Brendon Hartley got caught up by a slow zone which increased Kamui Kobayashi’s lead from 50 seconds to almost 70 seconds.
Then the second-placed car had a slow two-minute pit stop to remove a piece of rubber caught in its front-left brake duct.
This set Jose Maria Lopez, who took over from Kobayashi in hour six, into a minute and a half advantage over Nakajima that had extended to a minute and 45 seconds when the safety car came out.
Lopez’s service under safety car conditions, which came on-sequence, reversed the Toyotas’ order but the No. 8 needs to stop soon.
The No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson of Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato and Bruno Senna is now a lap down ahead of its sister No. 3 machine.
In LMP2, the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson led for large parts of the opening six hours with Will Stevens, Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry taking turns to drive.
The car’s lead was as large as 90 seconds at certain points, while this came down to three seconds during the safety car.
Jean-Eric Vergne was running second for G-Drive Racing at the quarter distance mark, ahead of United Autosports’ Alex Brundle and Jota Sport’s Anthony Davidson.
The safety car impacted the GTE-Pro fight as Nicki Thiim’s fourth-placed Aston Martin Vantage GTE was picked up by the next safety car behind the top three in class.
This put the Dane two minutes behind his teammates Alex Lynn, who remained close to the Nos. 71 and 51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evos that have been in a constant battle with the two factory Astons so far.
Risi Competizione was fifth at the close of six hours with its privateer Ferrari, ahead of the only Porsche 911 RSR-19 left on the lead lap.
Porsche’s N. 92 machine which is contending for the GTE world championship lost ground with repairs to a power steering issue.
In GTE-Am, Augusto Farfus took the lead for Aston Martin Racing by drafting past TF Sport’s Jonny Adam on the run down to the Indianapolis kink midway through hour five.
The two platinum-rated drivers then handed over to their Bronze co-drivers, leaving Paul Dalla Lana ahead of Salih Yoluc for the restart, with Iron Lynx driver Andrea Piccini third.