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24H Le Mans

Toyota in Control at Four Hours as Ferrari, Aston Scrap in Pro

Toyotas running to different pit sequences but No. 7 remains in control at Le Mans…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Brendon Hartley led the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the four-hour mark right before making a pit stop to let Kamui Kobayashi back ahead in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

Hartley was around 17 seconds up the road from his teammate when he came in for his seventh stop, re-establishing the true 43-second difference between the two Toyotas.

The Japanese manufacturer’s No. 7 car has enjoyed the upper hand so far, having started from pole in the hands of Mike Conway.

It also benefited from an early puncture that cost its sister No. 8 car time and put it off-sequence in the pit stops.

This divergence did enable the Toyotas to race each other on track in the second hour when Sebastien Buemi passed Conway into the first part of the Porsche Curves with an impressive move.

However, this came just before the Swiss driver needed to make a stop, handing the lead back to Conway who held the net advantage anyway despite being overtaken.

The No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson was two minutes and 20 seconds down on the No. 8 Toyota at the close of four hours with Gustavo Menezes at the wheel.

In LMP2, Ho-Pin Tung led for Jackie Chan DC Racing after the Jota Sport-run squad moved its Oreca 07 Gibson to a different pit sequence early in the race.

Tung led from Mikkel Jensen in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Aurus/Oreca and Will Owen in the No. 32 United Autosports Oreca.

One of the early challenges in the secondary prototype class, the Oreca of So24-Has by Graff, spun into the gravel exiting the Porsche Curves with Vincent Capillaire driving.

The GTE-Pro lead has transitioned between Aston Martin and Ferrari, while Porsche has been largely out of the battle at the sharp end.

Sam Bird led after four hours in the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, from Aston Martin Racing’s Harry Tincknell who was keeping AF Corse’s Daniel Serra at bay.

Alex Lynn was the pace-setter in the No. 97 Aston Martin early on, but the British driver was overtaken for the net lead by Bird’s co-driver Miguel Molina at the second Mulsanne chicane shortly after the second stops.

Maxime Martin then repaid the favor on Molina into the second Mulsanne chicane corner early in hour three, before the Ferrari got back in front around the fourth round of pit visits.

Top of the pile in GTE-Am with 20 hours left on the clock was the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari that rose into the top five with factory driver Nicklas Nielsen at the helm.

On the hour, Nielsen’s co-driver Emmanuel Collard led from Edigio Perfetti in Team Project 1’s No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR and Jonny Adam in the No. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin.

The No. 98 Aston Martin lost time when Paul Dalla Lana had a moment at the Porsche Curves, but the Canadian managed to continue before handing over to Augusto Farfus. 

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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