Kamui Kobayashi held a two-minute advantage over Fernando Alonso as the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid entered the final three hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in front.
The gap between the two factory Toyotas at the front of the overall field has steadily increased through the morning via a combination of quicker pit stops and lap times for No. 7
Kobayashi took over from Lopez, who had earlier forged a one-minute gap over Alonso around sunrise, before the two-time Formula 1 world champion swapped places for a stint in the No. 8 car with Kazuki Nakajima.
SMP Racing’s No. 11 BR Engineering BR1 AER continues to run in third, five laps down on the Toyotas, while the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson is a further three laps back in fourth.
Ferrari had the pressure eased at the front of the GTE-Pro class order when the competing No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R spun at high-speed in the Porsche Curves.
Jan Magnussen managed to bring the car back to the pits for an emergency service, but the car was wheeled back into its garage and subsequently lost six minutes.
Having been in the mix since the start of the race, the sole remaining Corvette is now running eighth in class behind the quartet of Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs and two Porsche 911 RSRs.
The No. 91 and No. 93 Porsches had their challenge to the leading No. 51 Ferrari of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra disrupted by a pair of identical 10-second stop and hold penalties for separate pit lane infringements.
Richard Lietz in the No. 91 car entered the final three hours with 1-minute 26s to make up to Calado, with Tandy seven second back in pursuit.
Keating Motorsports was out front in GTE-Am with three hours to go, Ben Keating around a minute and a half up the road from Egidio Perfetti in the WEC points-leading Project 1 Porsche.
LMP2 continues to be led by the Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson after the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibson hit mechanical trouble with just under six hours left.