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Le Mans 24 Hours: Conway pulls clear in polesitting Toyota

Mike Conway earned the polesitting #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID breathing space at the front of the field during the first hour of the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours

Conway set several race-record-breaking laps in the first 10 laps to pull a gap of over 10 seconds before the #7 Toyota and the sister #8 car driven by Sebastien Buemi made their first pitstops.

Buemi had a more challenging start than Conway - losing second place early in the first lap when the #3 Rebellion Racing car driven by Gustavo Menezes gained a better exit out of Tertre Rouge to set up the move.

By the first lap's conclusion, Buemi was back into second place, but the #8 Toyota was hindered by traffic more than the lead car and currently trails Conway by 16s.

Menezes settled into third place, over 30s away from Buemi ahead.

Rebellion's attention had quickly turned to SMP Racing inside the first hour, with the four cars across the two teams drawn into battles.

The Rebellion squad made an early gain of around 10s through the first cycle of pitstops that meant SMP's #11 driver Vitaly Petrov had to fall back in fourth after a spirited early battle down the Mulsanne through to Indianapolis.

The second SMP machine, driven by Stephane Sarrazin, settled for fifth and was boosted by the #1 Rebellion of Bruno Senna slowing with some smoke reported at the rear of the car on the exit of the second Mulsanne chicane.

Senna brought the #1 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 into the pits inside the final 10 minutes of the hour and returned to the field near the rear of the LMP2 runners and now in 26th place overall.

That elevated both Tom Dillmann's ByKolles ENSO CLM-Gibson P1/01 and the #10 DragonSpeed BRE-Gibson BR1 of Ben Hanley into sixth and seventh respectively.

Those two machines ended the hour over a minute behind the LMP1 cars in front, before Dillmann made his second stop inside the final minutes - dropping to 11th overall - to promote Hanley into sixth.

LMP2 - Signatech-Alpine into lead

Nicolas Lapierre leads LMP2 after an hour of the race for Signatech-Alpine, having cleared the polesitting #28 TDS Racing ORECA during the first pitstop phase.

Third on the LMP2 grid, Lapierre took second from Anthony Davidson's DragonSpeed ORECA at the start and stayed in the wheeltracks of leader Matthieu Vaxiviere until the #28 car made its first pitstop on lap eight.

Lapierre emerged ahead when he came in one lap later and proceeded to stretch his advantage over Vaxiviere to 17s by lap 16.

Vaxiviere meanwhile had to turn his attentions to holding off stablemate Jean-Eric Vergne in the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA and the fast-starting Giedo van der Garde in the Racing Team Nederland Dallara, which ended the first lap fourth after starting eighth.

The Dutchman lost a place to Vergne through the pitstop phase thanks to G-Drive staying out one lap longer, but gained one back due to a slow first stop for Davidson, who fell as far as 10th before climbing back to sixth.

Van der Garde made his second stop shortly before the hour mark, promoting Paul-Loup Chatin to fourth for IDEC Sport, with Ho-Pin Tung's #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA fifth and Davidson sixth.

GTE - Corvette leads the pack

Corvette led the opening hour in GTE Pro, as Antonio Garcia moved up from third on the grid to the head of the order in the early stages in the #63 Corvette.

Garcia picked off Harry Tincknell's Ford early on before passing the polesitting #95 Aston Martin, driven by Nicki Thiim, on the run through Indianapolis and Arnage.

At the end of the hour, Garcia ran just ahead of the Porsches of Michael Christensen - who took over the #92 911 RSR at the first stops from Kevin Estre - and Nick Tandy in the #93.

Oliver Gavin had the sister #64 Corvette up to fourth after 60 minutes, jumping several positions during the first pitstops before passing the #68 Ford of Dirk Muller and the fading Aston Martin of Thiim.

Gianmaria Bruni ran fifth in the #91 Porsche ahead of Muller's Ford at the one-hour mark.

GTE Am was led by the Spirit of Race Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella ahead of Matt Campbell's #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche.

Matteo Cairoli had converted pole into an early lead in the #88 Proton Porsche, but his advantage was squandered when he handed over to Satoshi Hoshino at the first stop and the Japanese driver spun on the Mulsanne Straight.

Third in class was Ben Barker in the Gulf Racing Porsche ahead of the Keating Motorsports Ford GT of Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Positions after one hour

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 17
2 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Alonso 17 + 15.397s
3 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Laurent, Berthon, Menezes 16 + 1 Lap
4 LMP1 #11 BR Petrov, Aleshin, Vandoorne 16 + 26.916s
5 LMP1 #17 BR Sarrazin, Orudzhev, Sirotkin 16 + 50.242s
6 LMP1 #4 Enso Dillmann, Webb, Ruberti 16 + 3m11.593s
7 LMP1 #10 BR Hedman, Hanley, Van Der Zande 16 + 3m17.818s
8 LMP2 #36 Alpine Lapierre, Negrao, Thiriet 16 + 3m35.438s
9 LMP2 #28 Oreca Perrodo, Vaxiviere, Duval 16 + 3m52.423s
10 LMP2 #26 Aurus Rusinov, Van Uitert, Vergne 16 + 3m53.988s
11 LMP2 #48 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Rojas 16 + 4m06.137s
12 LMP2 #38 Oreca Tung, Richelmi, Aubry 16 + 4m07.238s
13 LMP2 #31 Oreca Gonzalez, Maldonado, Davidson 16 + 4m07.675s
14 LMP2 #37 Oreca Heinemeier-Hansson, King, Taylor 16 + 4m08.156s
15 LMP2 #32 Ligier Cullen, Brundle, Owen 16 + 4m08.802s
16 LMP2 #25 Oreca Zollinger, Pizzitola, Falb 16 + 4m13.783s
17 LMP2 #29 Dallara Van Eerd, Van Der Garde, De Vries 16 + 4m17.397s
18 LMP2 #22 Ligier Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 16 + 4m20.356s
19 LMP2 #20 Oreca Fjordbach, Andersen, Beche 16 + 4m27.081s
20 LMP2 #23 Ligier Binder, Canal, Stevens 16 + 4m27.550s
21 LMP2 #43 Oreca Farano, Maini, Nato 16 + 4m27.796s
22 LMP2 #39 Oreca Gommendy, Capillaire, Hirschi 16 + 4m28.211s
23 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Belicchi 16 + 4m33.617s
24 LMP2 #34 Ligier Smiechowski, Winslow, Moore 15 + 2 Laps
25 LMP2 #50 Ligier Creed, Ricci, Boulle 15 + 33.244s
26 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Jani, Lotterer, Senna 15 + 1m37.563s
27 LMP2 #49 Ligier Konopka, Enqvist, Tereschenko 14 + 3 Laps
28 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Rockenfeller 14 + 28.551s
29 GTE Pro #93 Porsche Pilet, Bamber, Tandy 14 + 30.283s
30 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 14 + 31.268s
31 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 14 + 41.753s
32 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Fassler 14 + 44.183s
33 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Bruni, Makowiecki 14 + 44.382s
34 GTE Pro #95 Aston Thiim, Sorensen, Turner 14 + 44.920s
35 GTE Pro #67 Ford Priaulx, Tincknell, Bomarito 14 + 48.439s
36 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Molina 14 + 49.092s
37 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 14 + 49.690s
38 GTE Pro #66 Ford Mucke, Pla, Johnson 14 + 1m13.749s
39 GTE Pro #94 Porsche Muller, Jaminet, Olsen 14 + 1m15.037s
40 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 14 + 1m16.922s
41 GTE Pro #82 BMW Farfus, Da Costa, Krohn 14 + 1m20.452s
42 GTE Pro #81 BMW Catsburg, Tomczyk, Eng 14 + 1m20.808s
43 GTE Pro #89 Ferrari Derani, Jarvis, Gounon 14 + 1m25.110s
44 GTE Pro #97 Aston Martin, Lynn, Adam 14 + 1m39.326s
45 GTE Am #77 Porsche Campbell, Ried, Andlauer 14 + 2m41.405s
46 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 14 + 2m42.095s
47 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Preining 14 + 2m50.244s
48 GTE Am #56 Porsche Bergmeister, Lindsey, Perfetti 14 + 3m09.515s
49 GTE Am #85 Ford Keating, Bleekemolen, Fraga 14 + 3m09.891s
50 GTE Am #62 Ferrari Macneil, Vilander, Smith 14 + 3m10.165s
51 GTE Am #84 Ferrari Segal, Baptista, Lu 14 + 3m12.056s
52 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Hankey, Eastwood 14 + 3m16.663s
53 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 14 + 3m18.151s
54 GTE Am #57 Ferrari Kimura, Cozzolino, Ledogar 14 + 3m24.075s
55 GTE Am #78 Porsche Prette, Prette, Abril 14 + 3m24.480s
56 GTE Am #88 Porsche Hoshino, Roda Jr, Cairoli 14 + 3m45.585s
57 GTE Am #83 Ferrari Gostner, Frey, Gatting 14 + 3m50.950s
58 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Perez-Companc, Griffin, Cressoni 14 + 4m03.531s
59 LMP2 #30 Oreca Jamin, Ragues, Dumas 14 + 4m06.882s
60 GTE Am #60 Ferrari Schiavoni, Pianezzola, Piccini 14 + 4m30.180s
61 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Ishikawa, Beretta, Cheever 13 + 4 Laps

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