Le Mans 24 Hours: Nico Hulkenberg leads into final hour for Porsche

Nico Hulkenberg led the Le Mans 24 Hours for Porsche heading into the race's final hour, as the German manufacturer occupied the top two positions

Le Mans 24 Hours: Nico Hulkenberg leads into final hour for Porsche

Formula 1 driver Hulkenberg took over the race-leading #19 919 Hybrid from Earl Bamber with just over an hour and a half remaining.

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There has been little threat from the second-placed #17 car, which has Brendon Hartley at the wheel and is comfortably clear of the chasing Audis following their troublesome morning.

While the previous hour featured several unscheduled Audi pitstops, the team's cars had a quieter hour 23, with Benoit Treluyer heading for the final step of the podium in the #7 R18 e-tron Quattro.

Polesitter Neel Jani returned to the #18 Porsche to take the finish, running in a lonely fifth place ahead of the lead Toyota (#2) of Mike Conway and the #9 Audi that lost nearly 20 minutes due to a driveshaft change in the previous hour.

For the second hour running there were occasional reports of rain around the circuit, but with 60 minutes left on the clock nothing heavy had arrived.

LMP2

Oliver Turvey moved Jota Sport up to second place, as KCMG moved within an hour of a maiden Le Mans LMP2 victory.

Nicolas Lapierre continued to lead at the front of the field, starting the penultimate hour with a buffer of 50s and finishing it just under a minute clear.

However, unlike recent hours, Turvey was his closest challenger, not Sam Bird.

As Jota continued its recovery from a first-hour electronic problem, Turvey reeled in and passed Bird's G-Drive (OAK) Ligier.

Pipo Derani now sits fourth in the other G-Drive entry, with the Honda-powered OAK encountering mechanical problems with Laurens Vanthoor behind the wheel.

Vanthoor limped back to the pits and is yet to reappear.

GTE

Corvette is one hour away from GTE Pro victory after an attrition-hit class battle claimed the AF Corse Ferrari in the penultimate hour.

The #51 458 Italia spent half an hour in the pitlane to fix a gearbox problem, which dropped the car out of the lead but still on for a podium in third.

Chevrolet's C7.R is being chased by the #71 Ferrari, which started the race last-but-one on the grid after a qualifying penalty, but Davide Rigon is five laps down.

The problems for the Pro cars have allowed the lead GTE Am entries to nip ahead into second and third overall in GTE.

It's still an Aston Martin walkover there, with the #98 Vantage two laps clear of the #72 SMP Ferrari.

POSITIONS AFTER 23 HOURS

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #19 Porsche Hulkenberg, Bamber, Tandy 377
2 LMP1 #17 Porsche Bernhard, Webber, Hartley 376 + 1 Lap
3 LMP1 #7 Audi Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer 375 + 2 Laps
4 LMP1 #8 Audi Di Grassi, Duval, Jarvis 374 + 3 Laps
5 LMP1 #18 Porsche Dumas, Jani, Lieb 373 + 4 Laps
6 LMP1 #2 Toyota Wurz, Sarrazin, Conway 370 + 7 Laps
7 LMP1 #9 Audi Albuquerque, Bonanomi, Rast 368 + 9 Laps
8 LMP1 #1 Toyota Davidson, Buemi, Nakajima 368 + 3m10.376s
9 LMP2 #47 Oreca Howson, Bradley, Lapierre 342 + 35 Laps
10 LMP2 #38 Gibson Dolan, Evans, Turvey 341 + 36 Laps
11 LMP2 #26 Ligier Rusinov, Canal, Bird 341 + 22.774s
12 LMP2 #28 Ligier Yacaman, Derani, Gonzalez 337 + 40 Laps
13 LMP2 #48 Oreca Chandhok, Patterson, Berthon 331 + 46 Laps
14 LMP2 #34 Ligier Cumming, Vanthoor, Estre 329 + 48 Laps
15 LMP2 #31 Ligier Brown, Van Overbeek, Fogarty 324 + 53 Laps
16 LMP2 #27 BR Mediani, Markozov, Minassian 323 + 54 Laps
17 LMP2 #45 Oreca Ibanez, Perret, Bellarosa 323 + 3m17.949s
18 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Taylor 321 + 56 Laps
19 LMP1 #13 Rebellion Imperatori, Kraihamer, Abt 319 + 58 Laps
20 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 319 + 2m44.855s
21 LMP2 #29 Morgan Roussel, Tung, Cheng 318 + 59 Laps
22 GTE Am #72 Ferrari Shaytar, Bertolini, Basov 317 + 60 Laps
23 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Calado, Beretta 316 + 61 Laps
24 GTE Am #77 Porsche Dempsey, Long, Seefried 316 + 2m43.012s
25 GTE Am #62 Ferrari Sweedler, Bell, Segal 315 + 62 Laps
26 GTE Am #83 Ferrari Perrodo, Collard, Aguas 315 + 2m23.663s
27 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella 314 + 63 Laps
28 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Nygaard 314 + 1m48.800s
29 LMP2 #35 Ligier Nicolet, Merlin, Maris 313 + 64 Laps
30 LMP2 #30 Ligier Sharp, Dalziel, Heinemeier Hansson 313 + 9.259s
31 LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost, Heidfeld, Beche 313 + 30.036s
32 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Christensen, Bergmeister 312 + 65 Laps
33 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mann, Giammaria, Cressoni 311 + 66 Laps
34 LMP2 #40 Ligier Krohn, Jonsson, Barbosa 309 + 68 Laps
35 LMP2 #37 BR Aleshin, Ladygin, Ladygin 306 + 71 Laps
36 GTE Am #68 Porsche Chen, Vannelet, Parisy 305 + 72 Laps
37 GTE Am #53 Dodge Bleekemolen, Keating, Miller 304 + 73 Laps
38 GTE Am #66 Ferrari Al Faisal, Giermaziak, Avenatti 304 + 24m57.786s
39 GTE Pro #99 Aston Rees, Macdowall, Stanaway 304 + 25m37.106s
40 GTE Am #67 Porsche Chen, Kapadia, Maassen 302 + 75 Laps
41 LMP1 #4 CLM Trummer, Kaffer, Monteiro 257 + 120 Laps
42 LMP1 #23 Nissan Pla, Mardenborough, Chilton 234 + 143 Laps
43 LMP1 #22 Nissan Tincknell, Krumm, Buncombe 225 + 152 Laps
44 LMP2 #42 Dome Leventis, Watts, Kane 264 Retired
45 GTE Am #55 Ferrari Cameron, Griffin, Mortimer 241 Retired
46 LMP2 #46 Oreca Thiriet, Badey, Gommendy 204 Retired
47 GTE Am #96 Aston Goethe, Hall, Castellacci 187 Retired
48 LMP2 #43 Morgan Ragues, Webb, Amberg 162 Retired
49 LMP1 #21 Nissan Matsuda, Shulzhitskiy, Ordonez 115 Retired
50 LMP2 #36 Alpine Panciatici, Chatin, Capillaire 110 Retired
51 GTE Pro #97 Aston Turner, Mucke, Bell 110 Retired
52 GTE Am #50 Chevrolet Roda, Ruberti, Poulsen 94 Retired
53 LMP2 #41 Gibson Hirsch, Paletou, Lancaster 71 Retired
54 GTE Am #88 Porsche Ried, Al Qubaisi, Bachler 44 Retired
55 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Pilet, Makowiecki, Henzler 14 Retired
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Le Mans 24 Hours: More Audi dramas strengthen Porsche's lead

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