Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota holds early one-two after frantic start

Toyota held a 1-2 at the end of the first hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours with Sebastien Buemi in the #8 car leading team-mate Mike Conway

Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota holds early one-two after frantic start

From pole position, Buemi held the lead at the start of the race from the sister #7 TS050 HYBRID before Conway found a way ahead on the opening lap.

But Conway was never able to extend his advantage beyond 1.5 seconds and was repassed on lap five on the Mulsanne straight by Buemi, who had advanced three seconds up the road by the time he pitted at the end of lap nine.

After a 61-second stop, Buemi's stunning 4m11.529s outlap was 10.5s faster than Conway's a lap later, which allowed Buemi to stretch his lead beyond 15s after the pitstop phase had been completed.

Buemi had stretched that advantage to 18.281s by the end of the hour.

Stephane Sarrazin took advantage of a melee at the Dunlop chicane on the opening lap - when Andre Lotterer in the #1 Rebellion clipped the rear of the #8 Toyota, which dislodged his nose that then flew off and hit Ben Hanley's DragonSpeed car - to run third in the early part of the race.

Sarrazin came under intense pressure from Thomas Laurent in the early part of the race and was briefly passed by the #3 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 on the Mulsanne straight before the pitstops, but Sarrazin was able to draft his way back past on the run to Mulsanne corner.

The SMP Racing driver now sits three seconds clear of the Laurent.

Hanley recovered to fifth in the DragonSpeed BR1 after stopping out of sequence at the end of lap five, with the sole ByKolles sixth and three minutes behind the leader with Tom Dillmann at the wheel.

Alex Brundle ran sixth in the early part of the race in the #6 Manor-Ginetta after avoiding the first-lap incident before dropping to eighth, but he slowed towards the end of the hour before making a pitstop and is now 22nd.

The #6 Ginetta is 29th and last of the LMP1 cars, three laps down.

TDS gets ahead during stops in LMP2

Jean-Eric Vergne leads a 1-2 for TDS Racing in the #26 ORECA entered under the G-Drive banner.

The Frenchman dropped to seventh after a cautious opening lap, but took the lead after pitting from sixth on lap nine, one lap later than the leading trio comprising Nathanael Berthon (DragonSpeed ORECA), Paul-Loup Chatin (IDEC Sport ORECA) and Loic Duval (TDS ORECA).

Duval emerged from that group ahead as Berthon fell back to tenth, but Vergne emerged as the new leader and continued to build his lead up to 7.1 seconds by lap 16, at times lapping a over second quicker than anybody in the low 3m29s.

Nicolas Lapierre was another to benefit from a good first stop to leapfrog from fifth to third in the #36 Signatech-Alpine, while Chatin ended the first hour in fourth, but with a steward's investigation hanging over him for a potential infraction at his first stop.

Former F1 driver Will Stevens was the best of the Ligier runners in fifth, 24 seconds behind at the end of the first hour in the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition entry.

Defending winners Jackie Chan DC Racing had a difficult start to the race when Jazeman Jaafar brought the #37 ORECA slowly back to the pits on lap two. The Malaysian emerged after repairs four laps down.

Porsche leads frantic GTE battle

Porsche led the GTE Pro category after the first hour, with the #92 of Michael Christensen taking the advantage over the sister #91 car thanks to an early first stop.

Poleman Gianmaria Bruni and Kevin Estre led the field away at the start, edging away from Stefan Mucke's #66 Ford, and both Manthey drivers held station until Estre pitted on lap 10 to hand over to Christensen.

When Bruni led the majority of the field in the next time by, Christensen assumed a slender lead, while Dirk Muller managed to leap to second in the #68 Ford ahead of Bruni.

Also gaining ground was Patrick Pilet in the #93 Porsche, who got ahead of James Calado's #51 Ferrari to take fourth during the stops, while Mucke in the #66 Ford slipped to sixth.

The German then lost further ground in his second stint and was eighth behind Antonio Garcia's #63 Corvette and Alexander Sims's #81 BMW at the end of the opening hour.

Leading GTE Am was Ben Barker's #86 Gulf Racing Porsche after taking an early first stop that leapfrogged the British-entered car 10s ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella's #54 Spirit of Race entry.

Poleman Matteo Cairoli slipped to third in the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche, running just behind Fisichella.

Positions after one hour

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Alonso 17
2 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 17 + 19.978s
3 LMP1 #17 BR Sarrazin, Orudzhev, Isaakyan 17 + 1m11.227s
4 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Laurent, Beche, Menezes 17 + 1m14.825s
5 LMP1 #11 BR Petrov, Aleshin, Button 17 + 1m59.770s
6 LMP1 #10 BR Hedman, Hanley, Van Der Zande 17 + 2m46.791s
7 LMP2 #26 Oreca Rusinov, Pizzitola, Vergne 16 + 1 Lap
8 LMP1 #4 Enso Webb, Kraihamer, Dillmann 16 + 4.695s
9 LMP2 #28 Oreca Perrodo, Vaxiviere, Duval 16 + 7.180s
10 LMP2 #36 Alpine Lapierre, Negrao, Thiriet 16 + 16.808s
11 LMP2 #48 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Rojas 16 + 18.682s
12 LMP2 #23 Ligier Buret, Canal, Stevens 16 + 24.410s
13 LMP2 #39 Oreca Capillaire, Hirschi, Gommendy 16 + 26.020s
14 LMP2 #38 Oreca Tung, Richelmi, Aubry 16 + 27.528s
15 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Lotterer, Jani, Senna 16 + 28.328s
16 LMP2 #29 Dallara Van Eerd, Van Der Garde, Lammers 16 + 31.708s
17 LMP2 #22 Ligier Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 16 + 32.943s
18 LMP2 #31 Oreca Gonzalez, Maldonado, Berthon 16 + 38.119s
19 LMP2 #34 Ligier Taylor, Ledogar, Heinemeier-Hansson 16 + 52.979s
20 LMP1 #6 Ginetta Rowland, Brundle, Turvey 16 + 1m12.253s
21 LMP2 #32 Ligier De Sadeleer, Owen, Montoya 16 + 1m16.714s
22 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Nasr 16 + 1m52.762s
23 LMP2 #40 Oreca Allen, Gutierrez, Guibbert 16 + 2m06.598s
24 LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng, Boulle, Nicolet 16 + 2m08.409s
25 LMP2 #35 Dallara Shaitar, Newey, Nato 16 + 2m19.629s
26 LMP2 #50 Ligier Creed, Ricci, Dagoneau 16 + 2m52.293s
27 LMP2 #25 Ligier Patterson, De Jong, Kim 16 + 3m17.422s
28 LMP2 #44 Ligier Bertolini, Jonsson, Krohn 15 + 2 Laps
29 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 15 + 1m51.797s
30 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 15 + 1m53.596s
31 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Bruni, Makowiecki 15 + 1m56.464s
32 GTE Pro #93 Porsche Pilet, Tandy, Bamber 15 + 2m03.250s
33 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 15 + 2m04.072s
34 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Rockenfeller 15 + 2m05.174s
35 LMP1 #5 Ginetta Robertson, Simpson, Roussel 15 + 2m05.291s
36 GTE Pro #66 Ford Mucke, Pla, Johnson 15 + 2m05.891s
37 GTE Pro #82 BMW Farfus, Felix Da Costa, Sims 15 + 2m06.097s
38 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 15 + 2m08.991s
39 GTE Pro #67 Ford Priaulx, Tincknell, Kanaan 15 + 2m09.369s
40 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Fassler 15 + 2m10.711s
41 GTE Pro #81 BMW Tomczyk, Catsburg, Eng 15 + 2m11.339s
42 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Molina 15 + 2m15.559s
43 GTE Pro #52 Ferrari Vilander, Giovinazzi, Derani 15 + 2m15.996s
44 GTE Pro #94 Porsche Dumas, Bernhard, Muller 15 + 2m20.638s
45 GTE Pro #97 Aston Lynn, Martin, Adam 15 + 2m46.556s
46 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Davison 15 + 2m47.537s
47 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Turner 15 + 2m49.742s
48 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 15 + 2m57.167s
49 GTE Am #88 Porsche Cairoli, Al Qubaisi, Roda 15 + 2m58.401s
50 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mok, Griffin, Sawa 15 + 3m08.574s
51 GTE Am #84 Ferrari Griffin, Macneil, Segal 15 + 3m15.571s
52 GTE Am #77 Porsche Campbell, Ried, Andlauer 15 + 3m18.765s
53 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Hankey, Eastwood 14 + 3 Laps
54 GTE Am #99 Porsche Long, Pappas, Pumpelly 14 + 4.687s
55 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Ishikawa, Beretta, Cheever 14 + 20.966s
56 GTE Am #80 Porsche Babini, Nielsen, Maris 14 + 23.660s
57 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 14 + 34.114s
58 GTE Am #56 Porsche Bergmeister, Lindsey, Perfetti 14 + 36.289s
59 GTE Am #85 Ferrari Keating, Bleekemolen, Stolz 14 + 1m06.771s
60 LMP2 #37 Oreca Jaafar, Jeffri, Tan 12 + 5 Laps
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Author Jack Cozens
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