The Toyota pair pitted, Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi (who’d had an extended time in the car through safety periods), handing over their cars to Jose Maria Lopez and Fernando Alonso respectively. Though No. 7 TS050’s lead was now 50 seconds, Alonso was nevertheless lapping at 3m19.933s, quicker than for some time.
Lopez took fresh rubber at his next stop, Toyota having changed their routine of pairing driver changes with tires. Thomas Laurent still held on in third for Rebellion two laps back.
In LMP2, the ARC Bratislava Ligier’s damage was deemed beyond repair, and the No. 49 now an official retirement in its garage.
Job Van Uitert took over the leading G-Drive Aurus, as Nic Lapierre and Stefane Richelmi resumed after their next round of scheduled stops. The top three remaining cars were all on the lead lap in LMP2, each separated by a minute and a half.
Alex Brundle had a big moment at the Porsche Curves, but got the No. 32 back to the United Autosports garage — a tire let go, resulting in bodywork damage. Several minutes were lost before Brundle climbed back aboard to rejoin.
At the first hint of daybreak, Gianmaria Bruni was back ahead of Nick Tandy, the gap to Alessandro Pier Guidi in the leading GTE Pro Ferrari down to 15 seconds as the No. 51 car pitted. Antonio Garcia’s Corvette had also closed to within two seconds.
Both Porsches pitted together again, the No. 93 taking a front brake service, quickly completed but still losing enough time for the Corvette to assume third place with Jan Magnussen back at the wheel. The No. 64’s crew reported that the car was in great shape.
Richard Westbrook, Dirk Muller and Harry Tincknell were still poised behind for Ford should things change in the top four. With nine hours still to go, anything could still happen.
Similarly, ‘domination’ is too strong a word at this stage, but GTE Am was still being comfortably lead by Ben Keating’s No. 85 Ford GT. The Wynn’s-liveried car was now a lap ahead of the No. 56 Project 1 Porsche, its owner still running a mammoth stint at the wheel.