Le Mans hour 8: Kobayashi builds small lead for #7 Toyota

Kamui Kobayashi finally broke away from the sister Toyota TS050 HYBRID to pull a decent lead of the Le Mans 24 Hours as the eighth hour began the night's racing

Le Mans hour 8: Kobayashi builds small lead for #7 Toyota

With the leading pair split by around a second for swathes of the last hour, Kobayashi managed to find a pace advantage halfway through the hour in the #7 TS050.

Sebastien Buemi then took to the wheel of the #8 Toyota and trails Kobayashi by just under seven seconds.

With the LMP1 race having settled down, the only real battle on track took place for the best of privateer LMP1 cars - although it did end prematurely.

SMP Racing's Matevos Isaakyan had his third place reeled in by the Rebellion R-13 of Thomas Laurent - who took over the car from Gustavo Menezes who had put in the hard miles.

But Isaakyan had a high-speed crash at the Porsche Curves, rear-ending the tyre barrier, as the hour ended with a crane approaching to recover the car.

Andre Lotterer returned to the wheel of the #1 Rebellion machine and is the last LMP1 car not to be running among the lower-tier categories in fifth, although he is likely to take fourth from the crashed SMP car.

The Manor-Ginettas made little progress in the hour as Alex Brundle climbed back into the #6 car after his impressive first stint and lies in 17th, two places up from the #5's initial starter Mike Simpson.

Jenson Button drove the #11 SMP Racing BR1 for three hours and put in a stellar stint that has the car in 59th with Mikhail Aleshin now at the wheel.

G-Drive in control of LMP2 battle

Jean-Eric Vergne completed the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA's 12th pitstop without losing the lead shortly before the end of the hour.

The Frenchman emerged from the pits 1m50s ahead of Will Stevens' #23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier on lap 121, although Stevens still owes a pitstop.

Paul Lafargue is third in the #48 IDEC ORECA, which made its 12th stop on lap 113. The Michelin-shod car is competing nine-lap stints, consistently one less than the leading G-Drive car.

Lafargue has been unable to match the pace of his team-mate Paul-Loup Chatin, who qualified the car on pole, and was five seconds ahead of the #36 Signatech-Alpine of Andre Negrao, who took over from Nicolas Lapierre on lap 119.

Vincent Capillaire is fifth in the #39 Graff-So24 ORECA, the first car one lap down, with Francois Perrodo sixth in the #28 TDS Racing ORECA.

Harrison Newey was running eighth in the #35 SMP Dallara when he was slowed by a right-rear puncture at Mulsanne Corner. He made it back to the pits, but lost two laps before Norman Nato returned to the circuit in 13th position.

GTE: Porsche still in control

Porsche maintained its lockout of the top three places in the GTE Pro division as the race reached the eight-hour mark.

The #92 'Pink Pig'-liveried car continues to hold a considerable lead, with Laurens Vanthoor enjoying a 2m20s buffer out front after taking the car over from Michael Christensen.

Moving up to second in the most recent round of stops was Frederic Makowiecki in the #91 car, which has swapped places with the #93 machine that now has Nick Tandy at the wheel.

BMW continues to lead the chase against Porsche, with Philipp Eng running 13 seconds behind Tandy after taking over the #81 M8 from Martin Tomczyk.

Sebastien Bourdais runs fifth in the best of the Fords, the #68 car, while Pipo Derani has the only one of the three AF Corse Ferrari entries that's enjoyed a smooth run so far up to sixth.

Dempsey-Proton's #77 Porsche still leads the GTE Am class, albeit by a reduced margin after JMW Ferrari driver Jeff Segal carved into Christian Ried's lead.

Ried handed over to Julien Andlauer towards the end of the eighth hour, with 28 seconds separating the two leading cars in class.

Matteo Cairoli has the second of the Proton cars, the #88, back up to third place, a further 25 seconds behind.

Positions after eight hours

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 127
2 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Alonso 127 + 6.485s
3 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Laurent, Beche, Menezes 125 + 2 Laps
4 LMP1 #17 BR Sarrazin, Orudzhev, Isaakyan 123 + 4 Laps
5 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Lotterer, Jani, Senna 123 + 7m06.794s
6 LMP2 #26 Oreca Rusinov, Pizzitola, Vergne 121 + 6 Laps
7 LMP2 #23 Ligier Buret, Canal, Stevens 120 + 7 Laps
8 LMP2 #48 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Rojas 120 + 11.588s
9 LMP2 #36 Alpine Lapierre, Negrao, Thiriet 120 + 18.355s
10 LMP2 #39 Oreca Capillaire, Hirschi, Gommendy 120 + 2m10.261s
11 LMP2 #28 Oreca Perrodo, Vaxiviere, Duval 119 + 8 Laps
12 LMP2 #34 Ligier Taylor, Ledogar, Heinemeier-Hansson 119 + 30.561s
13 LMP2 #22 Ligier Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 119 + 2m14.903s
14 LMP2 #40 Oreca Allen, Gutierrez, Guibbert 119 + 3m11.642s
15 LMP2 #29 Dallara Van Eerd, Van Der Garde, Lammers 119 + 3m13.297s
16 LMP2 #32 Ligier De Sadeleer, Owen, Montoya 118 + 9 Laps
17 LMP1 #6 Ginetta Rowland, Brundle, Turvey 118 + 23.896s
18 LMP2 #31 Oreca Gonzalez, Maldonado, Berthon 117 + 10 Laps
19 LMP1 #5 Ginetta Robertson, Simpson, Roussel 117 + 26.645s
20 LMP2 #35 Dallara Shaitar, Newey, Nato 117 + 1m40.535s
21 LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng, Boulle, Nicolet 116 + 11 Laps
22 LMP2 #44 Ligier Bertolini, Jonsson, Krohn 116 + 1m17.147s
23 LMP2 #37 Oreca Jaafar, Jeffri, Tan 116 + 1m17.571s
24 LMP2 #50 Ligier Creed, Ricci, Dagoneau 114 + 13 Laps
25 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Nasr 114 + 42.683s
26 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 113 + 14 Laps
27 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Bruni, Makowiecki 112 + 15 Laps
28 GTE Pro #93 Porsche Pilet, Tandy, Bamber 112 + 5.649s
29 GTE Pro #81 BMW Tomczyk, Catsburg, Eng 112 + 18.202s
30 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 112 + 29.743s
31 GTE Pro #52 Ferrari Vilander, Giovinazzi, Derani 112 + 38.492s
32 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 112 + 39.628s
33 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Rockenfeller 112 + 40.916s
34 GTE Pro #67 Ford Priaulx, Tincknell, Kanaan 112 + 44.170s
35 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 111 + 16 Laps
36 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Turner 111 + 1m34.135s
37 GTE Pro #97 Aston Lynn, Martin, Adam 111 + 2m17.629s
38 GTE Pro #82 BMW Farfus, Felix Da Costa, Sims 111 + 2m36.145s
39 GTE Pro #66 Ford Mucke, Pla, Johnson 110 + 17 Laps
40 LMP2 #38 Oreca Tung, Richelmi, Aubry 110 + 35.479s
41 GTE Am #84 Ferrari Griffin, Macneil, Segal 110 + 51.297s
42 GTE Am #56 Porsche Bergmeister, Lindsey, Perfetti 110 + 1m23.761s
43 GTE Am #77 Porsche Campbell, Ried, Andlauer 110 + 1m38.413s
44 GTE Am #85 Ferrari Keating, Bleekemolen, Stolz 109 + 18 Laps
45 GTE Am #88 Porsche Cairoli, Al Qubaisi, Roda 109 + 47.426s
46 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 109 + 2m15.047s
47 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Molina 109 + 2m59.303s
48 GTE Am #80 Porsche Babini, Nielsen, Maris 109 + 3m23.673s
49 LMP1 #10 BR Hedman, Hanley, Van Der Zande 109 + 4m02.714s
50 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Hankey, Eastwood 108 + 19 Laps
51 GTE Am #99 Porsche Long, Pappas, Pumpelly 108 + 35.273s
52 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mok, Griffin, Sawa 108 + 38.175s
53 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Fassler 108 + 45.720s
54 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Davison 105 + 22 Laps
55 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Ishikawa, Beretta, Cheever 102 + 25 Laps
56 GTE Pro #94 Porsche Dumas, Bernhard, Muller 92 + 35 Laps
57 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 92 + 6m08.912s
58 LMP2 #25 Ligier Patterson, De Jong, Kim 86 + 41 Laps
59 LMP1 #11 BR Petrov, Aleshin, Button 77 + 50 Laps
60 LMP1 #4 Enso Webb, Kraihamer, Dillmann 65 + 62 Laps
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Series WEC
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Tom Errington
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