LE MANS, France – Toyota Gazoo Racing has maintained the one-two formation they started the 24 Hours of Le Mans in and leads the French endurance classic at quarter distance.
The pole-sitting No. 7 TS050 Hybrid stood 23 seconds clear of its sister No. 8 entry at the official six-hour benchmark, with Jose Maria Lopez out in front over Kazuki Nakajima.
With six of 24 hours in the books, both Toyota LMP1 entries had completed 98 laps around the 8.467-mile, 38-turn course.
“Everything went fine for me,” noted Kamui Kobayashi, who turned the No. 7 over to Lopez shortly before quarter distance. “Mike did a good job to build up an advantage in his stint, so I concentrated on maintaining a strong pace and keeping the car in one piece. It’s only a few hours into the race and the night is the challenging time at Le Mans.”
The No. 11 SMP Racing BR1 sits third with Mikhail Aleshin at the wheel, just ahead of fourth-place Thomas Laurent in the No. 3 Rebellion Racing entry.
In LMP2, theNo. 36 heads the class order with Andre Negrao driving, while the G-Drive Racing No. 26 of Roman Rusinov in second and DragonSpeed completing the current top three with the No. 31 of Anthony Davidson.
AF Corse sits at the top of the GTE-Pro class through the first quarter, with Daniel Serra leading Laurens Vanthoor after a frantic restart following a safety car period for the RLR M Sport ORECA going off-track at Tetre Rouge.
And in GTE-Am, Keating Motorsports’ No. 85 Ford GT has dominated the opening act, being chased at quarter-distance by the No. 84 JMW Ferrari and the No. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin.
A heavy shunt at the Porsche Curves claimed the No. 64 Corvette Racing C7.R of Marcel Fassler during the sixth hour, when Fassler made contact with the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche as he went to lap the Gulf Racing Porsche.
Fassler went straight into the barriers, but was quickly able to radio to his crew that he was OK and “there was nothing I could do.”
Of note, Mike Conway set a new race-lap record on the fourth lap, posting a time of 3:17.297 in the No. 7 Toyota as he began to build a gap over Sébastien Buemi in the No. 8.