Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche passes Toyota for the lead in ninth hour

Porsche experienced the highs and lows of the Le Mans 24 Hours during the ninth hour, with Neel Jani taking the lead in the #2 car while the sister #1 machine was effectively eliminated from victory contention

Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche passes Toyota for the lead in ninth hour

Jani took the lead four minutes before midnight, passing Mike Conway's Toyota into the first Mulsanne chicance.

Conway had just taken over the #6 Toyota from Stephane Sarrazin following a safety car period, emerging from the pits just ahead of Jani.

But the Swiss got a run on Conway out of Tertre Rouge, pulling alongside on the straight and completing the move into the chicane.

Jani was nine laps into his stint at the time, meaning Conway is set to retake the lead in four laps - with the Porsche and the Toyota's fuel stops offset thanks to the latter's ability to run one lap longer on each stint.

The #1 Porsche that led earlier would have been third, but for being wheeled into the pits early in the hour with high water temperatures.

It was still there at the end of the hour, now 11 laps down.

Sebastien Buemi runs third in the #5 Toyota, which he took over from Kazuki Nakajima under the safety car, 80 seconds behind.

The #8 Audi of Loic Duval is fourth and a lap down after losing time in the previous hour with a visit to the garage for work to be done on its lights.

The second #7 Audi of Benoit Treluyer is running sixth behind the #13 Rebellion, eight laps down, after having to make three visits to the garage.

LMP2 - SAFETY CAR PLAYS INTO TDS' HANDS
By Mitchell Adam

Thiriet by TDS Racing now leads LMP2 by nearly a lap following the safety car period, Pierre Thiriet nearly three minutes ahead of Signatech Alpine's Nicolas Lapierre at midnight.

From just over one minute at the start of the hour, Lapierre closed the gap before Thiriet pitted, then passed him on the track before making Signatech's 11th stop five laps later - levelling the tally between the two cars at the time.

Thiriet was 52s ahead when the safety car was called, and Signatech elected to pit Lapierre, meaning he rejoined in the safety car pack behind the race leader, accounting for the new margin of 2m48s.

The G-Drive entries are third and fourth on the road, Rene Rast one lap down and running in the same group on the road as Thiriet, and Jake Dennis a further lap behind in the team's Gibson.

Jonny Kane is currently fifth for Strakka, just ahead of Vitaly Petrov in the first of the two SMP Racing BR01s.

The KCMG ORECA has returned to the team's garage and ultimately the track, despite briefly being declared a retirement, but is the last of the LMP2 runners, 21 laps down.

Manor has also faced more problems, with Tor Graves pitting with rear-end damage that delayed it further, before former class leader Roberto Merhi rejoined the field just before midnight.

GTE FIGHT MOVES TO A HEAD-TO-HEAD
By Scott Mitchell and Jack Cozens

The Ford vs Ferrari fight at the front of GTE edged towards to a one-on-one after two of the Ford GTs got cut adrift.

Dirk Muller led in the #68 GT, with the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE running second despite a driver change late in the hour under the safety car.

Giancarlo Fisichella made way for Toni Vilander, who rejoined a minute and a half behind Muller - which became 17 seconds after Muller pitted.

The #69 Ford GT paid the price for being half a minute off the lead earlier in the hour by being picked up by a different safety car to the leaders, and it duly lost a large chunk of time.

Richard Westbrook ended the hour some 50 seconds behind Vilander and over a minute behind team-mate Muller.

The lead Aston Martin Racing Vantage has moved up to fourth after a mechanical issue for the #66 Ford.

Oliver Pla had taken third in the previous hour in his GT but suffered an electrical problem at his pitstop that cost him a lap and dropped the car to ninth, before he recovered to sixth.

The #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche returned to the lead of the GTE Am field in the hands of Patrick Long, as two cars ran into trouble in the first hour of darkness.

Paul Dalla Lana was the first to do so, stopping the #98 Aston that led at the start of the hour in the gravel at the Porsche Curves after complaining that he was tagged by a prototype.

Francois Perrodo then went off at Mulsanne in the #83 AF Corse Ferrari and got stuck, with the two incidents requiring the safety cars to be deployed - although both cars were recovered to the pits and returned to the circuit.

Long is now a comfortable 1m44s clear of Bill Sweedler in the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, which had jumped the #98 Aston during the pitstop phase.

POSITIONS AFTER NINE HOURS

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #2 Porsche Dumas, Jani, Lieb 139
2 LMP1 #6 Toyota Sarrazin, Conway, Kobayashi 139 + 1.769s
3 LMP1 #5 Toyota Davidson, Buemi, Nakajima 139 + 1m18.289s
4 LMP1 #8 Audi Di Grassi, Duval, Jarvis 138 + 1 Lap
5 LMP1 #13 Rebellion Tuscher, Imperatori, Kraihamer 132 + 7 Laps
6 LMP1 #7 Audi Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer 131 + 8 Laps
7 LMP2 #46 Oreca Thiriet, Beche, Hirakawa 130 + 9 Laps
8 LMP1 #1 Porsche Bernhard, Webber, Hartley 129 + 10 Laps
9 LMP2 #36 Alpine Menezes, Lapierre, Richelmi 129 + 47m52.032s
10 LMP2 #26 Oreca Rusinov, Stevens, Rast 129 + 48m47.787s
11 LMP2 #38 Gibson Dolan, Dennis, Van Der Garde 128 + 11 Laps
12 LMP2 #42 Gibson Leventis, Watts, Kane 128 + 2m06.115s
13 LMP2 #37 BR01 Petrov, Shaytar, Ladygin 127 + 12 Laps
14 LMP2 #27 BR01 Minassian, Mediani, Aleshin 127 + 1m42.635s
15 LMP2 #35 Alpine Cheng, Tung, Panciatici 127 + 1m47.502s
16 LMP2 #33 Oreca Pu, Gommendy, De Bruijn 126 + 13 Laps
17 LMP2 #41 Ligier Rojas, Canal, Berthon 125 + 14 Laps
18 LMP2 #31 Ligier Dalziel, Derani, Cumming 124 + 15 Laps
19 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 124 + 26.354s
20 GTE Pro #82 Ferrari Fisichella, Vilander, Malucelli 124 + 1m40.887s
21 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 123 + 16 Laps
22 LMP2 #49 Ligier Pew, Negri Jr, Vanthoor 123 + 1m22.481s
23 LMP2 #23 Ligier Barthez, Chatin, Buret 123 + 1m33.191s
24 LMP2 #30 Ligier Sharp, Brown, Van Overbeek 123 + 1m41.199s
25 LMP2 #25 Ligier Munemann, Hoy, Pizzitola 123 + 1m44.250s
26 GTE Pro #77 Porsche Lietz, Christensen, Eng 123 + 3m11.658s
27 GTE Pro #95 Aston Thiim, Sorensen, Turner 123 + 3m13.279s
28 GTE Pro #66 Ford Pla, Mucke, Johnson 122 + 17 Laps
29 GTE Pro #97 Aston Stanaway, Rees, Adam 122 + 5.617s
30 LMP2 #40 Ligier Krohn, Jonsson, Barbosa 122 + 1m23.398s
31 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Taylor 122 + 1m23.686s
32 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Pilet, Estre, Tandy 122 + 1m49.100s
33 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Bertolini 122 + 1m53.129s
34 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Taylor 122 + 3m11.592s
35 GTE Am #88 Porsche Al Qubaisi, Heinemeier Hansson, Long 120 + 19 Laps
36 LMP2 #43 Ligier Gonzalez, Senna, Albuquerque 120 + 1m02.958s
37 GTE Am #62 Ferrari Sweedler, Bell, Segal 120 + 1m43.571s
38 CDNT #84 Morgan Sausset, Tinseau, Bouvet 120 + 3m07.314s
39 LMP2 #22 Ligier Capillaire, Maris, Coleman 119 + 20 Laps
40 GTE Am #55 Ferrari Cameron, Griffin, Scott 119 + 7.300s
41 LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost, Heidfeld, Piquet Jr 119 + 1m02.669s
42 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mok, Sawa, Bell 119 + 2m47.058s
43 GTE Am #50 Chevrolet Yamagishi, Ragues, Belloc 118 + 21 Laps
44 LMP2 #48 Oreca Keating, Bleekemolen, Goossens 118 + 1m02.063s
45 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Carroll, Barker 118 + 1m06.522s
46 GTE Am #83 Ferrari Perrodo, Collard, Aguas 118 + 1m08.657s
47 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 117 + 22 Laps
48 LMP2 #34 Oreca Leutwiler, Nakano, Winslow 117 + 2m25.769s
49 GTE Am #60 Ferrari Laursen, Mac, Nielsen 116 + 23 Laps
50 GTE Am #78 Porsche Ried, Henzler, Camathias 115 + 24 Laps
51 GTE Am #99 Aston Howard, Griffin, Hirsch 114 + 25 Laps
52 LMP2 #44 Oreca Graves, Rao, Merhi 113 + 26 Laps
53 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Bruni, Calado, Pier Guidi 111 + 28 Laps
54 LMP2 #28 Morgan Taittinger, Striebig, Roussel 108 + 31 Laps
55 LMP2 #47 Oreca Matsuda, Howson, Bradley 108 + 23m09.045s
56 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Makowiecki, Bamber, Bergmeister 105 + 34 Laps
57 LMP1 #4 CLM Trummer, Webb, Kaffer 103 + 36 Laps
58 GTE Am #57 Chevrolet O'Connel, Bryant, Patterson 102 + 37 Laps
59 GTE Pro #67 Ford Franchitti, Priaulx, Tincknell 97 + 42 Laps
60 GTE Am #89 Porsche Macneil, Keen, Miller 50 Retired
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Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota leads, Porsches swap places in eighth hour

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