Le Mans 24 Hours H17: Buemi keeps #8 in control, #7 closes back in

The gap between the two Toyotas at the head of the Le Mans 24 Hours shrunk in the closing stages of the 17th hour

Le Mans 24 Hours H17: Buemi keeps #8 in control, #7 closes back in

Sebastien Buemi continued to extend his advantage over Kamui Kobayashi at the beginning of the hour and then eked out further breathing space for the #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID as the clock ticked towards 8am.

But the Swiss driver, who shares #8 with Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima, was caught one more time in a short-lived slow zone as the hour came to a close.

That cost his 12 or so seconds of an advantage that had stood at 45s. The difference between the two Toyotas at the top of the hour was a shade over 32s, with Mike Conway now in the #7.

Both Toyotas we handed one-minute stop-go penalties for speeding in an 80km/h slow zone over the course of hour 15.

The two Rebellion-Gibson R-13s held third and fouth positions, with Andre Lotterer edging towards team-mate Thomas Laurent.

G-Drive still in command in LMP2

There was no change among the leading runners in LMP2, with Roman Rusinov still a lap clear of the chasing pack in the #26 G-Drive ORECA 07-Gibson.

Timothe Buret replaced Julien Canal in the second-placed Panis Barthez Ligier, and is currently 1m40s up the road from the #36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, who occupies third.

The polesitting IDEC Sport ORECA is just about on the same lap as the Alpine in the hands of Memo Rojas.

Matthieu Vaxiviere spun at the Dunlop chicane towards the end of the hour and got stuck in the gravel, but is circulating once more after returning to the pits.

Porsche pair holds GTE 1-2

Porsche's pair of retro-coloured 911 RSRs continued their domination of the GTE Pro contest.

Kevin Estre stayed at the wheel of the lead 'Pink Pig' #92, and ended the 17th hour with an increased advantage of 2m36s over team-mate Richard Lietz's #91 entry.

The best of the Ganassi-run Fords continued to hold third with Joey Hand at the wheel, 33s down on the #91 Porsche.

IndyCar ace Scott Dixon's Ford was locked in battle with Audi DTM driver Mike Rockenfeller's Corvette for fourth, with Dixon two seconds clear at the top of the hour.

The lead Ferrari, the #52 488 GTE Evo piloted by Sauber F1 reserve Antonio Giovinazzi, slipped to seventh in class after a two-minute pitstop.

BMW hit more issues with its sole remaining M8, with the #81 dropping to last of the runners in class after a 20-minute trip to the garage to replace a radiator.

Matt Campbell stretched the #77 Dempsey-Proton's advantage to more than three minutes in the GTE Am class, with the two lead Ferraris - the #85 Keating/Risi car and the #54 Spirit of Race entry - split by 16s in the fight for second.

Positions after 17 hours

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Alonso 278
2 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 278 + 33.344s
3 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Laurent, Beche, Menezes 268 + 10 Laps
4 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Lotterer, Jani, Senna 268 + 1m47.587s
5 LMP2 #26 Oreca Rusinov, Pizzitola, Vergne 265 + 13 Laps
6 LMP2 #23 Ligier Buret, Canal, Stevens 264 + 14 Laps
7 LMP2 #36 Alpine Lapierre, Negrao, Thiriet 263 + 15 Laps
8 LMP2 #48 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Rojas 262 + 16 Laps
9 LMP2 #22 Ligier Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 262 + 1m25.241s
10 LMP2 #39 Oreca Capillaire, Hirschi, Gommendy 261 + 17 Laps
11 LMP2 #32 Ligier De Sadeleer, Owen, Montoya 261 + 2m18.312s
12 LMP2 #28 Oreca Perrodo, Vaxiviere, Duval 260 + 18 Laps
13 LMP2 #37 Oreca Jaafar, Jeffri, Tan 256 + 22 Laps
14 LMP2 #29 Dallara Van Eerd, Van Der Garde, Lammers 256 + 1m05.168s
15 LMP2 #31 Oreca Gonzalez, Maldonado, Berthon 256 + 1m36.552s
16 LMP2 #44 Ligier Bertolini, Jonsson, Krohn 254 + 24 Laps
17 LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng, Boulle, Nicolet 254 + 1m39.728s
18 LMP2 #38 Oreca Tung, Richelmi, Aubry 252 + 26 Laps
19 LMP2 #35 Dallara Shaitar, Newey, Nato 249 + 29 Laps
20 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 246 + 32 Laps
21 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Bruni, Makowiecki 246 + 2m35.760s
22 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 245 + 33 Laps
23 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 245 + 1m51.456s
24 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Rockenfeller 245 + 1m53.584s
25 GTE Pro #67 Ford Priaulx, Tincknell, Kanaan 245 + 2m08.226s
26 GTE Pro #52 Ferrari Vilander, Giovinazzi, Derani 245 + 2m47.081s
27 LMP1 #10 BR Hedman, Hanley, Van Der Zande 244 + 34 Laps
28 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 244 + 32m05.695s
29 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Nasr 243 + 35 Laps
30 GTE Pro #66 Ford Mucke, Pla, Johnson 242 + 36 Laps
31 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Turner 242 + 47.634s
32 LMP2 #50 Ligier Creed, Ricci, Dagoneau 241 + 37 Laps
33 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Molina 241 + 31.811s
34 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Fassler 240 + 38 Laps
35 GTE Pro #97 Aston Lynn, Martin, Adam 240 + 1m51.166s
36 GTE Am #77 Porsche Campbell, Ried, Andlauer 240 + 1m52.768s
37 GTE Am #85 Ferrari Keating, Bleekemolen, Stolz 239 + 39 Laps
38 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 239 + 17.797s
39 GTE Pro #93 Porsche Pilet, Tandy, Bamber 239 + 23.778s
40 GTE Am #99 Porsche Long, Pappas, Pumpelly 238 + 40 Laps
41 GTE Am #56 Porsche Bergmeister, Lindsey, Perfetti 238 + 1m21.326s
42 GTE Am #80 Porsche Babini, Nielsen, Maris 237 + 41 Laps
43 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mok, Griffin, Sawa 237 + 4.748s
44 GTE Pro #81 BMW Tomczyk, Catsburg, Eng 237 + 2m07.019s
45 GTE Am #84 Ferrari Griffin, Macneil, Segal 237 + 2m17.322s
46 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Hankey, Eastwood 235 + 43 Laps
47 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Ishikawa, Beretta, Cheever 231 + 47 Laps
48 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Davison 228 + 50 Laps
49 LMP1 #5 Ginetta Robertson, Simpson, Roussel 225 + 53 Laps
50 LMP1 #11 BR Petrov, Aleshin, Button 225 + 56m59.730s
51 LMP2 #25 Ligier Patterson, De Jong, Kim 193 + 85 Laps
52 LMP1 #6 Ginetta Rowland, Brundle, Turvey 137 + 141 Laps
53 LMP1 #17 BR Sarrazin, Orudzhev, Isaakyan 123 + 155 Laps
54 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 92 + 186 Laps
55 LMP1 #4 Enso Webb, Kraihamer, Dillmann 65 + 213 Laps
56 GTE Am #88 Porsche Cairoli, Al Qubaisi, Roda 225 Retired
57 GTE Pro #82 BMW Farfus, Felix Da Costa, Sims 223 Retired
58 LMP2 #40 Oreca Allen, Gutierrez, Guibbert 197 Retired
59 LMP2 #34 Ligier Taylor, Ledogar, Heinemeier-Hansson 195 Retired
60 GTE Pro #94 Porsche Dumas, Bernhard, Muller 92 Retired
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Series WEC
Drivers Sébastien Buemi
Author Gary Watkins
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