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Toyota Ahead in Three-Car Battle After 20 Hours

Drama builds with four hours to go at Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

The final four hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans promises to be one of the most open and exciting in recent memory, with the No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Anthony Davidson holding a narrow advantage over his sister car driven by Kamui Kobayashi.

Running on a fresh set of Michelins after taking over from Sebastien Buemi, Davidson passed Marc Lieb’s treble-stinting No. 2 Porche 919 Hybrid on the exit of the second chicane, shortly before the hour-mark.

Lieb then came into the pits just after a Slow Zone was brought out for Mark Patterson’s stranded No. 57 Team AAI Corvette C7.R, again without changing tires.

Meanwhile Audi’s dramas continued, as Oliver Jarvis brought the No. 8 R18 slowly back to the pits from fourth place. However, the winners of the Spa 6 Hours last time out still held a six-lap lead over Andre Lotterer in the No. 7 car.

Signatech-Alpine continue to lead by a lap over the No. 26 G-Drive Oreca 05 in LMP2.

Rene Rast had been gradually chipping away at Stephane Richelmi during a quadruple morning stint, but his team-mate Will Stevens has been unable to make similar ground against the impressive American Gustavo Menezes.

The battle for third between SMP Racing and Strakka Racing looks set to rage on however, with SMP’s Vitaly Petrov claiming the position from Nick Leventis.

It came after Jonny Kane had earlier managed to pass Petrov’s team-mate Viktor Shaitar.

In GTE-Pro, the No. 68 Ford GT driven by Joey Hand tracked down and passed Matteo Malucelli’s No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE to resume the class lead.

It came after Hand’s team-mate Dirk Mueller was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for refueling while the engine was still running.

Ryan Briscoe continues to hold third in class after taking over from Richard Westbrook in the No. 69 Ford.

However, Ferrari do still retain the lead in the GTE-Am class, courtesy of the No. 62 Scuderia Corse 458 Italia.

Townsend Bell has a lap in hand over the rest of the field, headed by Patrick Long in the No. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche 911 RSR.

James Newbold (@James_Newbold) is a UK-based freelance motorsport journalist. A graduate of Politics and International Relations, James is also the editor of Autosport Performance.

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