The GTE-Pro battle is finely poised heading into the final four hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with six cars from five manufacturers still on the lead lap.
Antonio Garcia leads the class in the No. 63 Corvette C7.R by 16 seconds from Jonny Adam’s No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, with Patrick Pilet 40 second off the lead in third at the wheel of the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR GTE.
Ford also has a stake in the fight, with Andy Priaulx only 1m22 behind Garcia in fourth, while Davide Rigon’s No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE and the No. 69 Ford of Tony Kanaan could yet come into play too, Kanaan running just ahead of Garcia on track.
Several contenders have fallen by the wayside in the morning, including the No. 95 Aston Martin of Richie Stanaway which had fought back to the lead after losing two minutes to a puncture in Hour 4.
On his first lap out of the pits, the New Zealander locked up at Mulsanne Corner and nosed into the barriers, dropping the car to ninth in class and five laps off the pace.
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado was also in the fight for victory, but lost over an hour in the pits following contact with Euan Hankey’s GTE-Am TF Sport Aston Martin that damaged the radiator.
The No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid continues to lead the race outright by a comfortable 13 laps from LMP2 leader Oliver Jarvis in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson.
Jarvis in turn has two laps in hand over the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca of Mathias Beche, which spent time in the garage with a starter motor problem at sunrise.
The sister No. 13 car which led for much of the night is now out of contention after a second lengthy stop to fix a gearbox problem, promoting Nelson Panciatici to third in class in the unfancied No. 35 Signatech-Alpine A470-Gibson, a further lap behind.
Will Owen survived a spin on his outlap after taking over the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217-Gibson from Filipe Alburqurque and is the top non-Oreca runner in eighth.
Meanwhile, Ferrari continues its stranglehold on the GTE-Am standings, the 488 GTE presently locking out the top three positions.
Rob Smith in the No. 84 JMW Motorsport 488 has a lap in hand over Aaron Scott in the No. 55 Spirit of Race car, with defending GTE-Am winner Bill Sweedler a further lap back in third.