Le Mans hour 7: Leading Toyotas separated by less than one second

The two Toyotas continued to have their own close-fought battle at the front of the Le Mans 24 Hours, with Kazuki Nakajima's #7 now in front

Le Mans hour 7: Leading Toyotas separated by less than one second

Nakajima held the lead despite double-stinting his tyres while Kamui Kobayashi had fresher tyres from the pitstop in which he took over the car from Jose Maria Lopez in the sixth hour.

The two ended up trading fast lap times after Kobayashi took 10s out of Nakajima's lead and got within two seconds of Nakajima following the conclusion of a slow zone after Juan Pablo Montoya's crash in the previous hour.

But Kobayashi held the lead over Nakajima by under one second at the conclusion of the seventh hour.

The privateer LMP1 field has largely become strung out, with SMP Racing's Matevos Isaakyan continuing to keep a lonely third place.

The two Rebellion Racing R-13s of Gustavo Menezes and ex-Porsche LMP1 driver Neel Jani continue in fourth and fifth.

The surviving LMP1 machines below fifth are all mired among the lower classes, with the two Manor-Ginettas in 16th and 19th with Charlie Robertson's #5 car the better placed.

Renger van der Zande's DragonSpeed BR-1 spent the majority of the hour in the pitlane following a skate across the Dunlop Chicane and dropped from sixth to 54th overall.

Jenson Button continues in the #11 SMP Racing BR-1 that is still the last running car, but is close to overhauling the retired ByKolles machine.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion has lapped comparatively well to the best privateer LMP1 lap times.

Vergne back in LMP2-leading G-Drive car

Jean-Eric Vergne has retained the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA's advantage at the head of the LMP2 pack after seven hours at Le Mans, with Signatech-Alpine's Nicolas Lapierre giving chase.

The lead gap at the end of the hour was inflated by the slow zone for Paul Dalla Lana's stranded Aston Martin at the Porsche Curves, with Vergne's lead standing at 1m43s over Lapierre on his 104th lap.

Lapierre took over second place when IDEC Sport's Paul-Loup Chatin came in for the team's 11th stop just prior to the hour mark.

Chatin, who qualified the #48 ORECA on pole, had caught and passed Timothe Buret's third-placed Panis-Barthez Compeition Ligier before cycling through to second when Lapierre came in for his 10th stop on lap 100.

The IDEC driver then continued to chip away at Roman Rusinov prior to the Russian completing a triple-stint and handing over to Vergne, whose quadruple at the start of the race laid the groundwork for the #26 crew's dominance of the event so far.

Chatin had been a minute behind Vergne when the leader emerged from the pits on lap 101, before pitting himself on lap 104 and rejoining third.

Will Stevens has taken over from the struggling Buret aboard the fourth-placed #23 Ligier, while Francois Perrodo is back behind the wheel of the #28 TDS Racing ORECA after a treble stint from Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Tristan Gommendy remains the first car off the lead lap in sixth position in the #39 Graff-So24 Racing ORECA.

Porsche locking out GTE Pro podium spots

Porsche holds a 1-2-3 in the GTE Pro category, with the #92 'Pink Pig' car leading the #93 and #91 911 RSRs by a handsome margin.

Michael Christensen extended his lead out from 2m00s to 2m30s at the wheel of the #92 during the seventh hour, while Patrick Pilet and Gianmaria Bruni were both able to pass the #81 BMW of Martin Tomczyk to move into second and third.

Dirk Muller's #68 car continues to be the best-placed for the four Ford GTs in fifth, ahead of the lead Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia.

The second BMW that ran as high as fifth in the hands of Antonio Felix da Costa was forced to spend seven minutes in the garage for a front-left damper change, dropping it all the way down to 13th in class behind both Aston Martins.

Also hitting trouble was the #94 Porsche, which went into the garage with a right-rear wheel problem.

GTE Am is still being controlled by the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche, which led by a minute with Christian Ried at the wheel and with a stop in hand over its immediate rivals.

The #84 JMW Ferrari has recovered to second in class after Jeff Segal took over from Matt Griffin, while Egidio Perfetti lies third in the #56 Project 1 Porsche.

Positions after seven hours

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 110
2 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Alonso 110 + 0.473s
3 LMP1 #17 BR Sarrazin, Orudzhev, Isaakyan 108 + 2 Laps
4 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Laurent, Beche, Menezes 108 + 12.416s
5 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Lotterer, Jani, Senna 106 + 4 Laps
6 LMP2 #26 Oreca Rusinov, Pizzitola, Vergne 104 + 6 Laps
7 LMP2 #48 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Rojas 104 + 1m38.321s
8 LMP2 #36 Alpine Lapierre, Negrao, Thiriet 104 + 1m42.113s
9 LMP2 #23 Ligier Buret, Canal, Stevens 104 + 2m57.434s
10 LMP2 #39 Oreca Capillaire, Hirschi, Gommendy 104 + 3m28.346s
11 LMP2 #28 Oreca Perrodo, Vaxiviere, Duval 104 + 3m35.231s
12 LMP2 #34 Ligier Taylor, Ledogar, Heinemeier-Hansson 103 + 7 Laps
13 LMP2 #35 Dallara Shaitar, Newey, Nato 103 + 22.478s
14 LMP2 #22 Ligier Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 103 + 1m13.401s
15 LMP2 #40 Oreca Allen, Gutierrez, Guibbert 103 + 1m50.212s
16 LMP1 #5 Ginetta Robertson, Simpson, Roussel 103 + 2m09.580s
17 LMP2 #29 Dallara Van Eerd, Van Der Garde, Lammers 102 + 8 Laps
18 LMP2 #32 Ligier De Sadeleer, Owen, Montoya 102 + 55.754s
19 LMP1 #6 Ginetta Rowland, Brundle, Turvey 101 + 9 Laps
20 LMP2 #31 Oreca Gonzalez, Maldonado, Berthon 101 + 2m13.242s
21 LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng, Boulle, Nicolet 101 + 4m18.373s
22 LMP2 #44 Ligier Bertolini, Jonsson, Krohn 101 + 4m25.783s
23 LMP2 #37 Oreca Jaafar, Jeffri, Tan 100 + 10 Laps
24 LMP2 #50 Ligier Creed, Ricci, Dagoneau 99 + 11 Laps
25 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Nasr 98 + 12 Laps
26 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 98 + 1m54.591s
27 GTE Pro #93 Porsche Pilet, Tandy, Bamber 97 + 13 Laps
28 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Bruni, Makowiecki 97 + 0.867s
29 GTE Pro #81 BMW Tomczyk, Catsburg, Eng 97 + 7.963s
30 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 97 + 18.586s
31 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Rockenfeller 97 + 22.944s
32 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 97 + 30.238s
33 GTE Pro #52 Ferrari Vilander, Giovinazzi, Derani 97 + 31.603s
34 GTE Pro #67 Ford Priaulx, Tincknell, Kanaan 97 + 35.021s
35 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 96 + 14 Laps
36 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Turner 96 + 1m48.787s
37 GTE Pro #97 Aston Lynn, Martin, Adam 96 + 2m00.870s
38 GTE Am #77 Porsche Campbell, Ried, Andlauer 95 + 15 Laps
39 GTE Pro #82 BMW Farfus, Felix Da Costa, Sims 95 + 40.172s
40 GTE Am #84 Ferrari Griffin, Macneil, Segal 95 + 2m47.395s
41 GTE Am #56 Porsche Bergmeister, Lindsey, Perfetti 95 + 3m07.438s
42 GTE Pro #66 Ford Mucke, Pla, Johnson 95 + 3m30.870s
43 GTE Am #85 Ferrari Keating, Bleekemolen, Stolz 95 + 3m49.208s
44 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 95 + 4m11.906s
45 GTE Am #88 Porsche Cairoli, Al Qubaisi, Roda 94 + 16 Laps
46 GTE Am #80 Porsche Babini, Nielsen, Maris 94 + 2m54.561s
47 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mok, Griffin, Sawa 94 + 3m03.682s
48 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Molina 94 + 3m22.104s
49 LMP2 #38 Oreca Tung, Richelmi, Aubry 94 + 3m44.822s
50 GTE Am #99 Porsche Long, Pappas, Pumpelly 94 + 4m11.760s
51 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Hankey, Eastwood 94 + 5m06.223s
52 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Fassler 93 + 17 Laps
53 GTE Pro #94 Porsche Dumas, Bernhard, Muller 92 + 18 Laps
54 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 92 + 6m08.912s
55 LMP1 #10 BR Hedman, Hanley, Van Der Zande 92 + 18m21.768s
56 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Davison 90 + 20 Laps
57 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Ishikawa, Beretta, Cheever 88 + 22 Laps
58 LMP2 #25 Ligier Patterson, De Jong, Kim 86 + 24 Laps
59 LMP1 #4 Enso Webb, Kraihamer, Dillmann 65 + 45 Laps
60 LMP1 #11 BR Petrov, Aleshin, Button 61 + 49 Laps
Le Mans hour 6: #8 Toyota edges away in lead battle

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Author Tom Errington
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