Le Mans hour 9: #7 Toyota increases lead due to slow zone

The #7 Toyota's Le Mans 24 Hours lead ballooned in the ninth hour after the sister #8 TS050 HYBRID shipped a significant amount of time

Le Mans hour 9: #7 Toyota increases lead due to slow zone

Sebastien Buemi began the hour in the #8 car by reeling in race leader Kamui Kobayashi, getting within half a second of the #7 before he stopped and Kobayashi later handed the #7 over to Mike Conway.

Buemi then fell more than a minute back in the #8, which Toyota attributed to time lost in a slow zone, before clawing back time when it ended while Conway was in the middle of it.

The pace of the two cars then settled down in the final quarter of an hour, with Conway ending the hour with half a minute in hand.

The #3 Rebellion now sits in a clear third place after its main rival, the #17 SMP Racing entry, stopped at the end of the previous hour as a result of Matevos Isaakyan's crash at the Porsche Curves.

Isaakyan attempted to restart the BR1 twice at the scene of his accident, either side of the car being retrieved by a crane, but a second failed attempt to get going led to the brief implementation of a slow zone.

The engine cover was removed after the car was retrieved for a second time, but although Isaakyan made a third attempt to return to the pits he was forced to jump from his car when it caught fire - which in turn caused another slow zone.

Laurent's hour was not trouble-free - he spent five minutes in the pits during one visit with a clutch sensor issue - but the #3 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 still has a healthy advantage of 3m18s over the sister #1 car.

Both Manor-Ginettas ended the hour in the garage, although Ginetta said the two issues were unrelated.

G-Drive in control in LMP2

Andrea Pizzitola is back behind the wheel of the race-leading #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA after a triple stint from Jean-Eric Vergne consolidated the lead it has held since the first hour.

Vergne continued to extend the gap to the chasing Signatech-Alpine of Andre Negrao to the tune of around 20 seconds, despite being on Dunlops that had done three stints by the time he handed over to Pizzitola on lap 131.

The gap stood at 2m43s when Pizzitola rejoined, although Negrao has largely matched Pizzitola on slightly older rubber and was 2m44s behind at the hour mark on lap 137.

Will Stevens (Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier) and Paul Lafargue (IDEC Sport ORECA) also pitted on lap 131, but Lafargue - who has made one stop more than the cars around him - is regularly lapping slower than Stevens and recently slipped off the lead lap.

Vincent Capillaire continues to hold fifth position in the #39 Graff-So24 Racing ORECA, but is being caught by Loic Duval, who is back aboard the #28 TDS Racing ORECA for the first time since his opening quadruple stint.

The #34 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier with Ricky Taylor at the wheel is the first car two laps down in seventh position.

Leader's gap reduced in GTE Pro

The leading Porsche in the GTE Pro class had its advantage reduced significantly in the ninth hour, but still leads by more than a minute.

Laurens Vanthoor held a buffer of more than two minutes in the #92 Porsche, but lost around 40 seconds of that advantage due to being caught out by the slow zone.

As the clock hit midnight local time, Vanthoor was ahead of the sister #91 Manthey-run Porsche driven by Frederick Makowiecki by 1m19s.

The third-placed #93 Porsche was forced into the garage with an electrical problem towards the end of the ninth hour, dropping it outside of the top 10.

That issue promoted Philipp Eng in the lead BMW M8 GTE to third, the Austrian running just a couple of seconds behind Makowiecki.

Sebastien Bourdais in the leading Ford GT was fourth, another 55 seconds down, followed by Pipo Derani in the best-placed of the Ferrari 488 GTEs.

Attrition elsewhere has moved Aston Martin into the top 10 in class for the first time, with Darren Turner running one lap down in the #95 Vantage.

GTE Am is still being led by the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche, with Julien Andlauer running 32 seconds clear of Cooper MacNeil (taking over from Jeff Segal) in the #84 Ferrari.

Giorgio Roda runs third in the second of the Dempsey-Proton cars a similar margin behind.

Positions after nine hours

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 144
2 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Alonso 144 + 36.620s
3 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Laurent, Beche, Menezes 140 + 4 Laps
4 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Lotterer, Jani, Senna 139 + 5 Laps
5 LMP2 #26 Oreca Rusinov, Pizzitola, Vergne 137 + 7 Laps
6 LMP2 #36 Alpine Lapierre, Negrao, Thiriet 136 + 8 Laps
7 LMP2 #23 Ligier Buret, Canal, Stevens 136 + 23.055s
8 LMP2 #48 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Rojas 136 + 1m09.771s
9 LMP2 #39 Oreca Capillaire, Hirschi, Gommendy 135 + 9 Laps
10 LMP2 #28 Oreca Perrodo, Vaxiviere, Duval 135 + 27.710s
11 LMP2 #34 Ligier Taylor, Ledogar, Heinemeier-Hansson 135 + 1m42.609s
12 LMP2 #40 Oreca Allen, Gutierrez, Guibbert 134 + 10 Laps
13 LMP2 #22 Ligier Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 134 + 6.204s
14 LMP2 #32 Ligier De Sadeleer, Owen, Montoya 134 + 2m25.964s
15 LMP2 #29 Dallara Van Eerd, Van Der Garde, Lammers 134 + 2m48.712s
16 LMP2 #31 Oreca Gonzalez, Maldonado, Berthon 133 + 11 Laps
17 LMP2 #35 Dallara Shaitar, Newey, Nato 133 + 43.443s
18 LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng, Boulle, Nicolet 131 + 13 Laps
19 LMP2 #44 Ligier Bertolini, Jonsson, Krohn 131 + 2m21.449s
20 LMP2 #37 Oreca Jaafar, Jeffri, Tan 130 + 14 Laps
21 LMP1 #6 Ginetta Rowland, Brundle, Turvey 129 + 15 Laps
22 LMP2 #50 Ligier Creed, Ricci, Dagoneau 129 + 12m42.810s
23 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Nasr 129 + 13m17.427s
24 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 127 + 17 Laps
25 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Bruni, Makowiecki 127 + 1m19.036s
26 GTE Pro #81 BMW Tomczyk, Catsburg, Eng 127 + 1m20.833s
27 GTE Pro #68 Ford Hand, Muller, Bourdais 127 + 2m15.919s
28 GTE Pro #52 Ferrari Vilander, Giovinazzi, Derani 127 + 2m46.558s
29 GTE Pro #69 Ford Briscoe, Westbrook, Dixon 127 + 2m50.717s
30 GTE Pro #63 Chevrolet Magnussen, Garcia, Rockenfeller 127 + 3m17.103s
31 GTE Pro #67 Ford Priaulx, Tincknell, Kanaan 126 + 18 Laps
32 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 126 + 1m43.851s
33 LMP2 #38 Oreca Tung, Richelmi, Aubry 126 + 3m28.785s
34 GTE Pro #93 Porsche Pilet, Tandy, Bamber 125 + 19 Laps
35 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Turner 125 + 6m34.674s
36 GTE Pro #82 BMW Farfus, Felix Da Costa, Sims 125 + 6m47.206s
37 LMP1 #10 BR Hedman, Hanley, Van Der Zande 125 + 8m59.060s
38 LMP1 #5 Ginetta Robertson, Simpson, Roussel 124 + 20 Laps
39 GTE Pro #66 Ford Mucke, Pla, Johnson 124 + 29m29.788s
40 GTE Am #84 Ferrari Griffin, Macneil, Segal 124 + 30m58.096s
41 GTE Am #77 Porsche Campbell, Ried, Andlauer 124 + 31m46.262s
42 GTE Am #85 Ferrari Keating, Bleekemolen, Stolz 124 + 32m12.611s
43 GTE Am #88 Porsche Cairoli, Al Qubaisi, Roda 124 + 32m39.764s
44 LMP1 #17 BR Sarrazin, Orudzhev, Isaakyan 123 + 21 Laps
45 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Bird, Molina 123 + 1h05m26.030s
46 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 123 + 1h05m29.959s
47 GTE Am #56 Porsche Bergmeister, Lindsey, Perfetti 123 + 1h05m41.187s
48 GTE Pro #97 Aston Lynn, Martin, Adam 123 + 1h05m43.521s
49 GTE Am #80 Porsche Babini, Nielsen, Maris 123 + 1h05m52.026s
50 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Fassler 123 + 1h06m58.131s
51 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Hankey, Eastwood 123 + 1h07m22.172s
52 GTE Am #99 Porsche Long, Pappas, Pumpelly 123 + 1h07m25.450s
53 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mok, Griffin, Sawa 122 + 22 Laps
54 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Davison 119 + 25 Laps
55 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Ishikawa, Beretta, Cheever 116 + 28 Laps
56 LMP1 #11 BR Petrov, Aleshin, Button 94 + 50 Laps
57 GTE Pro #94 Porsche Dumas, Bernhard, Muller 92 + 52 Laps
58 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 92 + 6m08.912s
59 LMP2 #25 Ligier Patterson, De Jong, Kim 89 + 55 Laps
60 LMP1 #4 Enso Webb, Kraihamer, Dillmann 65 + 79 Laps
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Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jack Cozens
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