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Toyota Leads Hour 18; DragonSpeed BR1 Out

Toyota 1-2 continues past 9 a.m. as DragonSpeed LMP1 entry crashes out…

Toyota entered the final quarter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a ten lap lead, as DragonSpeed’s LMP1 entry retired after crashing at the Porsche Curves in hour 17. 

Kazuki Nakajima’s overtake on Kamui Kobayashi in hour 16 means the No. 8 Toyota TS050 currently has the on-track advantage.

The clean pass into Mulsanne corner marked the first overall lead change in nine hours at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Rebellion Racing continued to circulate in third and fourth, although issues for both cars in the early hours have put the Anglo-Swiss outfit 10 laps off the pace

At the close of hour 18, Andre Lotterer in the No. 1 entry was eyeing up the No. 3 of Mathias Beche who was running 20 seconds up the road.

The main incident to occur around daybreak was a heavy crash for the fifth-in-class No. 10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1 Gibson in hour 17.

Ben Hanley appeared to lose control through the right-hand part of the Porsche Curves before hitting the tire barriers on driver’s left.

Hefty rear-end damage resulted in the team withdrawing the car – which was built up shortly before the race following a crash at Spa in May – at eight in the morning.

G-Drive Racing has continued to dominate the LMP2 category with the No. 26 Oreca 07 Gibson comfortably protected by its one-lap advantage.

At the close of the 18th hour, Roman Rusinov had just handed over to Jean-Eric Vergne while the No. 23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P217 Gibson with Timothe Buret ran second.

Buret’s main challenge appeared to be the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson, which was the only other car to enter the final quarter on the same lap as the Ligier.

Porsche maintained its night-time advantage in GTE-Pro, with the Nos. 92 and 91 Porsche 911 RSRs heading a class one-two as light emerged.

Michael Christensen led Gianmaria Bruni by two and a half minutes on the hour mark, although the No. 68 Ford with Dirk Mueller at the controls has closed the gap between first and second to around half a minute.

No other cars in the category are on the lead lap, with the fourth-placed No. 63 Corvette C7.R running a lap down and only four seconds ahead of the No. 69 Ford.

The advantage in GTE-Am has also been dictated by a Porsche, with the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing machine still holding the initiative having moved ahead in hour three.

Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell took the car into daylight before handing over to bronze-rated Christian Ried, who had a gap of three minutes, 19 seconds to the second-placed Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Just before the timestamp, Giancarlo Fisichella moved the No. 54 Spirit of Race machine ahead of Ben Keating in the No. 85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari and has since gone on to establish a 30s gap.

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

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