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‘Pink Pig’ Porsche Leads GTE-Pro After Reshuffle

All-change in GTE-Pro; Toyota continues to dominate in LMP1 as Le Mans hits six hours…

Photo: MPS Agency

The ‘Pink Pig’-themed Porsche 911 RSR led the GTE-Pro class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the race hit one-quarter distance, while Toyota continued to dominate LMP1.

Porsche’s Manthey-run No. 92 car, which is driven by Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor, profited from a fourth-hour safety car period that altered the complexion of the category battle.

Almost all the leading pack except Estre pitted shortly before the intervention was called for debris strewn by a puncture for the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.

The group, which included the No. 91 Porsche and the No. 68 Ford GT, was then held in front of a red light at the end of the pit lane which cost them around two minutes.

That enabled the No. 92, which Vanthoor had recently passed over to Estre, to steal a march on the chasing pack by over a minute.

Estre continued to monitor the sizeable advantage before swapping for Christensen, who ended the sixth hour with a three-minute gap to the No. 81 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE of Martin Tomczyk.

Porsche’s Nos. 93 and 91 cars ran third and fourth in the shuffled chasing pack, ahead of the No. 68 Ford GT and the No. 82 BMW.

The No. 67 Chip Ganassi-run Ford was forced into its garage for repairs after encountering suspension damage in hour five.

Ferrari also had one of its cars drop off the lead trail after receiving a three-minute stop and hold for speeding in the pit lane, compounded by a front splitter issue that has required extensive treatment.

In LMP1, Toyota drew ahead of the non-hybrid competition with both the Japanese manufacturer’s cars. running without major incident so far.

The Nos. 7 and 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrids have been exchanging positions throughout the opening quarter, with Fernando Alonso passing Jose Maria Lopez after a second safety car restart following Dominik Kraihamer’s ByKolles crash.

Both drivers handed over their cars in the fifth hour, with Alonso’s team-mate Kazuki Nakajima holding a 13-second advantage over Kamui Kobayashi.

Third overall was the No. 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER, over a lap down, while the No. 3 Rebellion Racing R13 Gibson was fourth.

G-Drive Racing continues to lead convincingly in LMP2, following an impressive opening stint from Jean-Eric Vergne.

The No. 26 Oreca 07 Gibson has led since Vergne took the lead during the first round of stops, while the No. 36 Signatech Alpine and No. 23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P217 Gibson have been exchanging second place.

Shortly before the 25% milestone, Le Mans debutant Juan Pablo Montoya nosed the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier into the tire barriers at Indianapolis, but the car didn’t appear to sustain major damage.

GTE-Am was led by the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR after six hours, with Christian Ried behind the wheel.

Ried opened the seventh hour with a two-minute lead over Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche, while Francesco Castellacci ran third in the Spirit of Race Ferrari.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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