Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche back in front as Audis hit trouble

Porsche reclaimed the lead of the Le Mans 24 Hours as two of Audi's three cars hit trouble in the third hour

Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche back in front as Audis hit trouble

Former race leader Andre Lotterer was forced to surrender the top spot when the #7 Audi suffered a puncture just three laps into its fourth stint on the same set of tyres.

That dropped the car back to sixth, allowing the #17 Porsche, which changed tyres and was taken over by Brendon Hartley, back into the lead that Timo Bernhard had held early on.

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There was more drama for Audi just before the top of the hour when Loic Duval crashed the #8 Audi on the approach to a slow zone (for debris) at Indianapolis.

Duval arrived on a pack of GTE cars (and the then-second #18 Porsche of Marc Lieb), and spun as he tried to avoid them, smashing into the wall on the outside.

Remarkably he was able to bring the Audi back to the pits, and just four minutes later it was back on track with Lucas di Grassi at the wheel.

In all the confusion, Marco Bonanomi managed to get the #9 Audi ahead of Lieb for second, while Nick Tandy, taking over from Nico Hulkenberg, ran fourth in the #19 Porsche.

LMP2

The safety car halted Nicolas Lapierre's charge at the head of the LMP2 field, but its groupings look to have helped KCMG.

Lapierre took over from Richard Bradley halfway through the hour and quickly built on the advantage the polesitter enjoyed over the pursuing TDS Racing ORECA handed from Tristan Gommendy to Ludovic Badey.

With a string of fastest laps late in the hour - his new benchmark of 3m39.168s is a second clear of anything other cars in the class have mustered - Lapierre built a 40s advantage.

Badey pitted just before the safety car was called and re-emerged in second place, while Lapierre's track position means his safety car queue puts him three minutes ahead of Badey, albeit based on the field circulating at reduced speed.

Nelson Panciatici is third for Signatech Alpine, ahead of Karun Chandhok in the Murphy Prototypes ORECA with both cars, like KCMG, still to make a fourth pitstop.

Kevin Estre in OAK's Honda-powered Ligier and the Greaves Motorsport Gibson, now with Gary Hirsch behind the wheel, are fifth and sixth, while Jota Sport is 11th with Mitch Evans.

GTE

The lead Aston Martin Racing Vantage dropped out of the GTE Pro lead right at the end of the third hour, but an AMR car still headed the fielded under safety-car conditions.

Nicki Thiim hit the front in the first half hour and was managing a gap to the #99 car when both Astons pitted in the closing stages of hour three.

But while Richie Stanaway handed over to Fernando Rees and the Brazilian resumed in fourth in class, the #95 was wheeled into the garage with an unknown problem.

That means Stefan Mucke leads in the #97 Aston which, along with the second-placed #71 Ferrari of Davide Rigon and Tommy Milner's third-placed #64 Corvette, had not made its third stop at the end of the hour.

The #99 Aston is fourth ahead of the #51 Ferrari, now in the hands of Giancarlo Fisichella, while the sole remaining Porsche 911 RSR is sixth.

In GTE Am Jeroen Bleekemolen has taken the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R into the lead, just ahead of the #72 AF Corse Ferrari.

Third spot is occupied by the yet-to-stop Abu Dhabi-Proton Porsche, while the #98 Aston, which led early on, is fourth.

The previously podium-running #55 AF Corse 458 Italia dropped out of contention with a puncture early in the hour.

POSITIONS AFTER THREE HOURS

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #17 Porsche Bernhard, Webber, Hartley 47
2 LMP1 #9 Audi Albuquerque, Bonanomi, Rast 47 + 25.869s
3 LMP1 #18 Porsche Dumas, Jani, Lieb 47 + 26.951s
4 LMP1 #19 Porsche Hulkenberg, Bamber, Tandy 47 + 32.339s
5 LMP1 #7 Audi Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer 47 + 36.622s
6 LMP1 #1 Toyota Davidson, Buemi, Nakajima 47 + 2m18.373s
7 LMP1 #2 Toyota Wurz, Sarrazin, Conway 47 + 2m57.071s
8 LMP1 #8 Audi Di Grassi, Duval, Jarvis 46 + 1 Lap
9 LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost, Heidfeld, Beche 45 + 2 Laps
10 LMP2 #47 Oreca Howson, Bradley, Lapierre 44 + 3 Laps
11 LMP2 #46 Oreca Thiriet, Badey, Gommendy 43 + 4 Laps
12 LMP2 #36 Alpine Panciatici, Chatin, Capillaire 43 + 1m11.535s
13 LMP2 #48 Oreca Chandhok, Patterson, Berthon 43 + 1m22.549s
14 LMP2 #34 Ligier Cumming, Vanthoor, Estre 43 + 1m34.384s
15 LMP2 #41 Gibson Hirsch, Paletou, Lancaster 43 + 1m42.148s
16 LMP1 #13 Rebellion Imperatori, Kraihamer, Abt 43 + 2m04.556s
17 LMP2 #43 Morgan Ragues, Webb, Amberg 43 + 2m13.911s
18 LMP1 #22 Nissan Tincknell, Krumm, Buncombe 43 + 2m44.709s
19 LMP2 #26 Ligier Rusinov, Canal, Bird 43 + 3m01.651s
20 LMP1 #21 Nissan Matsuda, Shulzhitskiy, Ordonez 42 + 5 Laps
21 LMP2 #42 Dome Leventis, Watts, Kane 42 + 1m09.581s
22 LMP2 #28 Ligier Yacaman, Derani, Gonzalez 42 + 1m25.708s
23 LMP2 #38 Gibson Dolan, Evans, Turvey 42 + 3m49.158s
24 LMP2 #27 BR Mediani, Markozov, Minassian 42 + 4m04.372s
25 LMP2 #30 Ligier Sharp, Dalziel, Heinemeier Hansson 41 + 6 Laps
26 GTE Pro #97 Aston Turner, Mucke, Bell 41 + 44.052s
27 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Calado, Beretta 41 + 45.823s
28 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Taylor 41 + 54.605s
29 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Christensen, Bergmeister 41 + 1m09.157s
30 GTE Am #53 Dodge Bleekemolen, Keating, Miller 41 + 1m50.953s
31 GTE Pro #99 Aston Rees, Macdowall, Stanaway 41 + 2m24.387s
32 GTE Am #72 Ferrari Shaytar, Bertolini, Basov 41 + 2m28.845s
33 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella 41 + 3m09.049s
34 LMP2 #35 Ligier Nicolet, Merlin, Maris 41 + 3m28.249s
35 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Nygaard 40 + 7 Laps
36 LMP2 #45 Oreca Ibanez, Perret, Bellarosa 40 + 2m21.329s
37 GTE Am #88 Porsche Ried, Al Qubaisi, Bachler 40 + 2m30.206s
38 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 40 + 2m38.088s
39 GTE Am #83 Ferrari Perrodo, Collard, Aguas 40 + 2m42.523s
40 GTE Am #77 Porsche Dempsey, Long, Seefried 40 + 3m17.830s
41 GTE Am #62 Ferrari Sweedler, Bell, Segal 40 + 3m53.847s
42 GTE Am #66 Ferrari Al Faisal, Giermaziak, Avenatti 40 + 4m40.250s
43 LMP2 #40 Ligier Krohn, Jonsson, Barbosa 40 + 5m27.610s
44 LMP2 #31 Ligier Brown, Van Overbeek, Fogarty 40 + 6m50.235s
45 GTE Am #55 Ferrari Cameron, Griffin, Mortimer 39 + 8 Laps
46 GTE Am #68 Porsche Chen, Vannelet, Parisy 39 + 57.353s
47 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mann, Giammaria, Cressoni 38 + 9 Laps
48 LMP2 #29 Morgan Roussel, Tung, Cheng 38 + 1m19.839s
49 GTE Am #67 Porsche Chen, Kapadia, Maassen 38 + 4m18.616s
50 LMP1 #4 CLM Trummer, Kaffer, Monteiro 37 + 10 Laps
51 LMP1 #23 Nissan Pla, Mardenborough, Chilton 37 + 7m06.102s
52 GTE Am #50 Chevrolet Roda, Ruberti, Poulsen 35 + 12 Laps
53 GTE Am #96 Aston Goethe, Hall, Castellacci 28 + 19 Laps
54 LMP2 #37 BR Aleshin, Ladygin, Ladygin 26 + 21 Laps
55 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Pilet, Makowiecki, Henzler 14 Retired
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Le Mans 24 Hours: Audi takes over from Porsche in race lead

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