Le Mans 24 Hours: #7 Toyota leads frantic opening hour

Alexander Wurz turned pole position into a commanding early lead for the #7 Toyota in the first hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours

Le Mans 24 Hours: #7 Toyota leads frantic opening hour

The ex-Formula 1 driver controlled the race from the beginning, extending his lead with relative ease as a frantic battle developed behind him.

Nicolas Lapierre, who made short work of Neel Jani's Porsche in the early laps, found himself fighting with the Audis of Andre Lotterer and Marco Bonanomi after the first pitstops.

As the first hour drew to a close both Audis had got the better of the Toyota, despite the Japanese car clearly enjoying a straightline speed advantage.

Their scrap was a thriller, with the cars trading blows - and positions - on several occasions as neither manufacturer wanted to give an inch in the early part of the race.

Further back, Tom Kristensen and Timo Bernhard had just as lively a scrap over fifth place, repeatedly swapping positions, while Jani dropped out of contention when the #20 Porsche slowed just after the half-hour mark and had to spend nine minutes in the garage while a fuel pressure issue received attention.

There was a moment of drama in the pits when Wurz was released just ahead of Lotterer as the Audi came in, and the #7 Toyota was placed under investigation for the incident.

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Alexander Imperatori leads the LMP2 class after charging from seventh to first in the #48 KCMG ORECA.

He holds a lead of 16 seconds over the OAK-run G-Drive Racing Ligier of Jann Mardenborough, with the Zytek of Harry Tincknell, which took the lead at the start, now running fourth behind pole position starter Tristan Gommendy's #46 TDS Ligier.

The SMP Racing squad had a tough start, with Mika Salo having to bring in the #27 car for repair to the left-rear suspension. Nicolas Minassian then brought the sister #37 car into the pits, where it remains, with an engine problem.

The Nissan ZEOD RC, running in the Garage 56 slot for experimental cars with green credentials, became the first retirement after completing only five laps.

The car lost drive and stopped at the Porsche Curves with Wolfgang Reip at the wheel, with the team stating it had suffered a suspected gearbox failure.

A request was made to be able to recover the car to race control on the basis that as a Garage 56 entry it is running outside of the overall classification, but this was turned down.

AF CORSE LEADS GTE FIELD

Gianmaria Bruni leads in GTE for the AF Corse Ferrari team, having regained the advantage from the Corvette of Jan Magnussen.

Bruni led from pole initially as Sam Bird's Am-class 458 Italia held back Magnussen, the Aston Martin Vantage of Darren Turner and Oliver Gavin in the second C7.R.

Once Magnussen had cleared Bird though, he slashed Bruni's two-second advantage to nothing and got past on the run down towards Indianapolis just before the 45-minute mark.

Before the pitstops, Bruni jumped back in front, and after the first hour led the #74 Corvette driven by Gavin, which jumped its sister car courtesy of an earlier pitstop.

The #81 AF Ferrari leads the Am division, even though Bird has fallen behind the leading quartet of Pro cars. The Briton was almost a dozen seconds clear of the first of the Astons, with Nicki Thiim's #95 Vantage well clear of the #72 SMP Ferrari driven by Andrea Bertolini.

POSITIONS AFTER 1 HOUR Pos Cl Car Drivers Laps Gap 1. LMP1 #7 Toyota Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima 16 2. LMP1 #2 Audi Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer 16 + 36.391s 3. LMP1 #3 Audi Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis 16 + 38.701s 4. LMP1 #8 Toyota Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi 16 + 39.577s 5. LMP1 #1 Audi Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen 16 + 1m16.613s 6. LMP1 #20 Porsche Bernhard/Webber/Hartley 16 + 1m17.368s 7. LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost/Heidfeld/Beche 15 + 1 Lap 8. LMP1 #13 Rebellion Kraihamer/Belicchi/Leimer 15 + 1m26.536s 9. LMP2 #47 Oreca Howson/Bradley/Imperatori 15 + 1m55.616s 10. LMP2 #35 Ligier Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy 15 + 2m10.757s 11. LMP2 #46 Ligier Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy 15 + 2m15.179s 12. LMP2 #38 Zytek Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey 15 + 2m16.947s 13. LMP2 #34 Oreca Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster 15 + 2m17.769s 14. LMP2 #24 Oreca Rast/Charouz/Capillaire 15 + 2m19.281s 15. LMP2 #26 Morgan Rusinov/Pla/Canal 15 + 2m22.092s 16. LMP2 #48 Oreca Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok 15 + 2m23.750s 17. LMP2 #36 Alpine Chatin/Panciatici/Webb 15 + 2m26.955s 18. LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng/Tung/Fong 15 + 2m48.507s 19. LMP2 #43 Morgan Klien/Hirsch/Brandela 15 + 2m49.754s 20. LMP2 #41 Zytek Munemman/Latif/Winslow 15 + 2m58.335s 21. LMP2 #50 Morgan Ragues/Taylor/Ihara 15 + 3m10.372s 22. LMP2 #29 Morgan Schell/Leutwiller/Roussel 14 + 2 Laps 23. LMP2 #42 Zytek Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson 14 + 1.959s 24. GTEP #51 Ferrari Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella 14 + 1m39.361s 25. GTEP #74 Chevrolet Gavin/Milner/Westbrook 14 + 1m41.271s 26. GTEP #73 Chevrolet Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor 14 + 1m42.973s 27. GTEA #66 Ferrari Al Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly 14 + 1m46.558s 28. GTEA #76 Porsche Narac/Armindo/Hallyday 14 + 1m47.156s 29. GTEP #97 Aston Turner/Mucke/Senna 14 + 1m54.429s 30. GTEA #81 Ferrari Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird 14 + 1m55.225s 31. GTEP #92 Porsche Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz 14 + 1m57.136s 32. GTEA #72 Ferrari Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov 14 + 2m04.794s 33. GTEA #95 Aston Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim 14 + 2m05.054s 34. GTEP #91 Porsche Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy 14 + 2m11.179s 35. GTEA #90 Ferrari Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti 14 + 2m13.785s 36. GTEA #98 Aston Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard 14 + 2m23.957s 37. GTEP #52 Ferrari Griffin/Parente/Leo 14 + 2m26.268s 38. GTEA #60 Ferrari Mann/Case/Giammaria 14 + 2m27.148s 39. GTEA #88 Porsche Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi 14 + 2m30.213s 40. GTEP #71 Ferrari Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta 14 + 2m33.689s 41. GTEA #77 Porsche Dempsey/Foster/Long 14 + 2m34.429s 42. GTEA #53 Ferrari Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton 14 + 2m43.853s 43. GTEA #58 Ferrari Barthez/Pons/Ayari 14 + 2m46.397s 44. GTEA #67 Porsche Maris/Merlin/Helary 14 + 2m50.045s 45. GTEA #57 Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Collins 14 + 3m11.042s 46. GTEA #61 Ferrari Perez-Companc/Cioci/Venturi 13 + 3 Laps 47. GTEA #75 Porsche Perrodo/Collard/Palttala 13 + 2m35.022s 48. GTEA #70 Ferrari Nakano/Ehret/Rich 13 + 2m51.506s 49. GTEA #62 Ferrari Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank 13 + 5m35.566s 50. GTEP #79 Porsche MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen 12 + 4 Laps 51. LMP1 #14 Porsche Dumas/Jani/Lieb 11 + 5 Laps 52. LMP2 #37 Oreca Ladygin/Minassian/Mediani 9 + 7 Laps 53. LMP2 #27 Oreca Zlobin/Salo/Ladygin 8 + 8 Laps 54. CDNT #0 Nissan Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama 5 + 11 Laps 
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