LM24 Hour 3: Porsches battle in GTE Pro; Toyota in control

Image by Hartwell/LAT

LM24 Hour 3: Porsches battle in GTE Pro; Toyota in control

Le Mans/WEC

LM24 Hour 3: Porsches battle in GTE Pro; Toyota in control

Just like that, three hours have passed in the 2018 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

With Toyota’s commanding 1-2 run at the front providing little in the way of talking points, much of the intrigue thus far has shifted to GTE Pro.

The lead has changed in the hotly-contested class, as the No. 91 911 RSR of Fred Makowiecki reeled in the sister No. 92 car throughout the hour before leapfrogging it in the third round of stop. The current gap between the two is just half a second.

Behind, there was an almighty scrap for fourth place. Originally it was the No. 66 Ford of Olivier Pla leading Nick Tandy’s No. 93 Porsche and the No. 69 Ford of Richard Westbrook. Westbrook was first to make a move, taking fifth off of Tandy down the Mulsanne straight.

But after the round of stops, the order shuffled the No. 68 Ford of Sebastien Bourdais sitting third, ahead of the No. 93, and the No. 66.

Further back, the No. 82 BMW M8, which stormed to third in the second hour under the power of Alex Sims, has since fallen to sixth through the somewhat unpredictable pit cycles to this point.

Meanwhile, the No. 64 Corvette, which suffered suspension issues, spent much of the hour in the garage. There are now two key contenders down the order after the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari dropped to 15th after a puncture.

GTE Am saw plenty of changes too after many of the gentlemen drivers climbed in for their first stints. The class leader is now the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche driven by Julien Andlauer, after Thomas Flohr took the reigns of the No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari, dropping from first to fourth.

Completing the top three now is the JMW Motorsport Ferrari and Cooper MacNeil moving up the order, followed by the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Giorgio Roda.

LMP2 was mainly static, particularly up top. The No. 26 G-Drive Racing ORECA now leads the class by a minute and a half over the No. 36 Signatech Alpine of Andre Negrao. As it stands the Panis Barthez Ligier is now up to third, with Julien Canal now in for Will Stevens, continuing the impressive run the French team has enjoyed to this point.

Toyota’s control over the race is even more dominant than that of G-Drive’s up front, both TS050 HYBRIDs now a lap ahead of the entire privateer field after just three hours.

The Nos. 7 and 8 have each undergone a driver change, Jose Maria Lopez jumping in the former, and Fernando Alonso climbing in the No. 8 for his first stint at La Sarthe in race conditions.

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