Having circulated in a tight 1-2 for the majority of the round-the-clock event, the Toyota pair were split up as the race came towards the 16 hour mark when Jose Maria Lopez slowed to a stop on track having seemingly lost drive.
After a couple of starts and stops, the Argentine nursed the car back to the pit-lane before performing an apparent ‘cycle reset’ to restart the faltering Hybrid system. Despite the issues, the car wasn’t pulled into the garage but Lopez has lost a lap to the lead car.
It means the #8 Toyota of Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hurakawa have moved into position to secure the team its fifth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans victory having remained largely out of trouble so far.
Glickenhaus hold down third place still, but there were more problems for the Alpine when an off forced it back into the garage for repairs.
In LMP2, the #38 Jota Sport car remains out front in LMP2 with the Prema Orlen machine holding firm in second place, followed by the second of the Jota entries in third place, while TDS Racing and Cool Racing remain in the top five as the class steadied from its typical ‘snakes and ladders’ during the pit-stop cycles.
In GTE Pro, however, both Corvettes are now out of the race after a dramatic exit for the #64 car, which was clipped by the passing AF Corse LMP2 car of Francois Perrodo, spearing it into the barriers on the Mulsanne straight.
Alex Sims was in the car at the time and in contention for the victory, a class that was being comfortably led by the #63 car earlier on before a rear suspension failure forced a long stop. It too is now out of the race, ending Corvette’s interest in this year’s race early.
The AF Corse Ferrari now leads the way in GTE Pro, helped in part by the #92 Porsche also hitting problems when a puncture caused damage to the front of the car. However, the #91 Porsche is now only 12secs back on the lead in what has now been reduced to a Ferrari vs. Porsche fight for honours.
In the GTE Am class, Aston Martin are now running 1-2 with the TF Sport entry heading up the Northwest car.