The FIA World Endurance Championship-leading Porsche 911 RSR has lost its GTE-Pro class lead in the 24 Hours of Le Mans after pitting for exhaust repairs.
Kevin Estre had around half a minute in hand to Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo but was forced to pit unexpectedly in the 13th hour.
The Porsche, which Estre shares with Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor, won Le Mans last year and is one of two 911 RSR entries capable of sealing the WEC title.
It effectively left the Ferrari of Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra to run clear with a minute-plus lead after an earlier safety car separated it and the No. 92 car from the rest of the GTE-Pro pack.
The No. 93 and No. 91 Porsche entries have moved up into second and third as a result, and have been engaged in a tight battle through the small hours.
Nick Tandy made a move stick on Gianmaria Bruni into the Dunlop chicane near the end of the latter to seize second and limit the No. 91 car’s provisional points score.
Bruni and Richard Lietz are the main challengers to Estre and Christensen in the WEC title chase, with 36 points separating the two crews heading into the Le Mans season finale.
After 20 minutes of repairs, which reportedly included exhaust and brake changes, Estre emerged from the pits 12th in class and 41st overall.
Estre and Christensen are still in a mathematical position to clinch the GT world drivers’ championship, as things stand.