The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, and Brendon Hartley has completed one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of endurance racing. Here's more about their incredible recovery and the results of battles in three other classes. The archived live blog is below.
Hour 24:00: Jordan Taylor goes off from the lead in one of the Mulsanne chicanes and, it seems, has a slow puncture. He holds onto the lead for half a lap more, but as they take the white flag, the #97 Aston Martin takes the lead in GTE-Pro. It's a heartbreaking conclusion for the #63 Corvette, which ends up finishing in second.
Meanwhile, dominant class leaders in LMP1, LMP2, and GTE-Am take their wins. Overall, the #2 919 Hybrid takes the third consecutive overall win for Porsche, the second for Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard, and the first for Brendon Hartley.
Hour 23:56: Johnathan Adam moves the #97 Aston Martin into the lead in GTE-Pro in Arnage, but just a second later Jordan Taylor slips back past in the #63 Corvette. Still four minutes to go.
Hour 23:41: GTE-Pro is still far from decided, and while Jordan Taylor still leads in Corvette #63, that lead is down to just a second over the #97 Aston Martin. Whether or not that car needs a splash of fuel, as Corvette Racing's Danny Binks predicted, Taylor will have a challenge on his hands.
Hour 23:23: The #35 is in the garage to be looked over after that last off, moving the #13 Rebellion Oreca into third overall, second in LMP2.
Hour 23:20: The #35 Signatech Alpine LMP2 car, third overall and second in class, slowly rolls into the gravel at the Mulsanne corner and, almost immediately afterward, beaches the car while trying to rejoin the circuit. The car had just a minute and a half on the #13 Rebellion Oreca behind it before the incident.
Hour 23:05: Three classes seem to be decided with one hour to go, but in GTE-Pro, the same five manufacturers are all still within at least an outside shot of winning. Corvette Racing's #63 currently leads that group.
Hour 22:55: The overall lead has changed hands.
Porsche #2 has finally caught the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 Oreca and the LMP2 leader no longer leads outright. The Porsche has just over an hour to go before finishing the race, but now that the car can stop pushing at full speed as it has throughout the morning, durability should be less of a concern.
Hour 22:40: The gap for the overall lead is under a minute. The #38 isn't long for the lead now.
Hour 22:29: With the Jackie Chan DC Racing Team making a driver change during that last set of stops, the gap is now 1:27 up front. The #2 could reasonably close it before the race's final hour begins.
Hour 22:25: The lead is just over 2 minutes before the #38 stops for its final driver change. Ho-Pin Tung takes the wheel of the overall leader, a car that will need at least one more stop while the Porsche may be able to make the end of the race on just one stop and a final splash of gas.
Hour 22:00: Lap by lap, the #38 has generally been around 10 seconds slower than the #2. Ignoring stops and tire changes still needed, that car needs to make up 3:20 over the next two hours. That comes out to about 20 laps, which means the lead change overall should come near the beginning of the race's final hour.
At the moment, that is a fairly attainable goal. If the #2 is delayed by more than a minute, or has to deal with either an extended safety car period or enough slow zones, that target becomes a lot more difficult to hit.
Hour 21:50: The #2 has unlapped itself and is now on the lead lap. With two hours to go, that car has to make up just one lap on the LMP2-leading #38.
Hour 21:18: The #13, third in LMP2 and fourth overall after serving that previous penalty, needs an engine cover removal in the pit lane to re-fire. Another long delay for a car that just a few hours ago seemed destined to be in the position the #38 is now.
Hour 21:08: It's a disastrously long stop to fit that new bodywork to the #38. With the #2 most of the way down the Mulsanne, that's almost half a lap lost to the LMP1 class leader, second overall, from a team that could not stand to lose any time at all.
Hour 21:06: A very, very poorly timed, but thankfully for that team very minor, electrical issue for the #38. That car has an issue with its taillights and will have to swap out the entire rear wing section of the car during its next stop. Another twist in a tortoise-and-the-hare chase for the ages.
Hour 21:00: After the #13 serves its penalty, the overall leader is the #38 Oreca. The 19 year old rookie Laurent is putting down laps within four seconds of that car's fastest time, but those times are still twenty seconds slower than the laps the #2 Porsche is capable of averaging in just about any conditions with just about any driver. That car is up to second overall and will need to make up around seven or eight minutes of track time over the race's final three hours to win.
Hour 20:54: The #1 Porsche is an official retiree. The #38 LMP2 Oreca of the Jota Sport-run Jackie Chan DC Racing leads overall. Their Silver-rated driver, Thomas Laurent, is the driver who has the honor of leading for the team.
Laurent doesn't have a Wikipedia page.
Hour 20:51: The #13 Rebellion Oreca has been given a stop-and-go penalty for improper pit lane procedure. That car is running second in LMP2 and, if the #1 is the expected retiree it seems to be, the equivalent of second overall.
Hour 20:49: Doug Fehan of Corvette Racing tells Fox Sports that the #97 Aston Martin will not be a contender in GTE-Pro at the end of the race because it needs one more stop than the rest of the field. He predicts a battle between their #63 Corvette and the #91 Porsche instead.
Hour 20:34: The situation looks more and more dire for the #1, and Andre Lotterer is now sitting behind the wall with his helmet off.
The break gets even better for the LMP2 leaders, with the #23 Panis Barthez Competition car stopping on track and bringing out another slow zone in what is otherwise a particularly fast portion of the track. That car needs to make up two and a half laps over three hours, not unreasonable if it runs at a full pace for the entirety of the time but something that becomes more and more difficult with every lap slowed by any sort of yellow flag conditions.
Hour 20:28: For every lap this slow zone continues for the issues for the #1, the #2 loses green flag running time it desperately needs to catch the LMP2 leader. That car already more or less needs no safety cars and minimal slow zones to win this race, and at this point it might be in Porsche's best interest to give up on the #1.
Hour 20:25: Andre Lotterer climbs from the car, but hasn't abandoned it. He's begun the ultimate fail safe, remotely-assisted repairs. It's a move of desperation, but it may be enough.
Hour 20:17: The #1 Porsche is stopped on track. All six LMP1 entries have now failed in one way or another, the question now is simply if either Porsche can claw back from what they've suffered.
Hour 20:15: If this is as bad for the #1 Porsche as it might be, the race to watch is the raw speed of the #2 Porsche versus the durability of the #38 LMP2-leading Oreca. That car has moved up to fifth overall, fourth if the #1's issues prove either terminal or significant enough to delay the car for more than twelve laps, and while it seems more than capable of catching the two cars ahead of it, catching the LMP2 leader three laps ahead seems unlikely.
Hour 20:12: Remember all those what-if-the-#1-breaks scenarios? Time to think about those.
The #1 Porsche, the race's overall leader and presumed champion for over ten hours, is running without oil pressure and limping home at the very beginning of the Mulsanne. That car has to limp six miles back to the pits, an eerie repeat of the situation that led to retirements for the #7 and #9 Toyotas.
Hour 20:10: The #2 Porsche's climb back up to the overall podium has brought it all the way to fifth, just a lap and a half behind the #13 Rebellion running third overall.
Hour 20 Recap:
This is the home stretch, just four hours to go. The only major changes over the past few hours came near the front of LMP2, where the #31 Rebellion Racing Oreca fell out of contention with a transmission issue, and GTE-Pro, where the #95 Aston Martin that had previously led the bulk of the race crashed at the end of the Mulsanne and opened up that class to the rest of the field.
LMP1 Lead Lap: 1
LMP2 Lead Lap: 38
GTE-Pro Lead Lap: 63, 97, 91, 67, 71
GTE-Am Lead Lap: 84
Hour 19:26: The #31 Rebellion car finally returns after over an hour of transmission repairs.
Hour 19:15: After that last set of stops, your running order in GTE-Pro is now Aston Martin #97, Corvette #63, Porsche #91, Ford GT #67, and AF Corse Ferrari #71.
Hour 18:40: Will Owen spins the #32 United Autosports Ligier in the Porsche curves at full speed into the gravel but, somehow, escapes without any serious issue. A very, very lucky break in a place where there generally are no small accidents.
Hour 18:04: With just six hours to go and running in the top five overall, the #31 Rebellion Racing Oreca is reporting what may be the first signs of an inevitable gearbox failure. The car is going into the garage to be looked over.
Hour 17:49: The issues of the #95 Aston Martin have created a sort of War of Succession at the front of GTE-Pro, currently led by Fred Makowiecki in the #91 Porsche. Every single manufacturer in the field has one car, no more and no less, on the lead lap and within 90 seconds of that lead: Following the #91 are the #67 Ford GT, the #63 Corvette C7.R, the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, and the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE.
Hour 17:26: A significant shake-up in GTE-Pro as the #95 Aston Martin, which has led the majority of the race, sails into the barrier at the end of the Mulsanne. It isn't a huge collision, but it's a collision nonetheless, and that car has sustained some front fender damage even as it seems to continue to drive without issue. In a class that still had seven cars on the lead lap at the time of that incident, this has huge implications. The battle behind that car has been intense all race, and with that battle now potentially for the class win, GTE-Pro is wide open.
The #63 Corvette is clear into the GTE-Pro race lead.
Hour 17:05: The #13 Rebellion takes a quick trip behind the wall before returning about a minute later. That car still runs third overall.
Hour 16:40: Another fast LMP2 car is off at Indianapolis. It's the #22 G-Drive Oreca this time, another victim of a gravel trap that has left what seems like half the field beached at one point or another.
Hour 16 Update:
Morning has broken at the Circuit de la Sarthe and the sun wakes to a very different race to the one it saw yesterday. Toyota's dominant trio of TS050s are all but eliminated, with the #7 and #9 both retiring overnight and the #8 suffering a catastrophic failure that required more than two hours of repairs. Porsche's #1 is the lone LMP1 contender at the front of the field, and if the #2 runs out of time to overcome its own set of extensive repairs, two LMP2 cars on the overall podium is a legitimate possibility. In the production-based classes, GTE-Pro is competitive as it ever was, even with the #92 Porsche falling out of contention just a few hours ago, While JMW Motorsports has led GTE-Am throughout the night.
LMP1 Lead Lap: 1
LMP2 Lead Lap: 38, 13, 31
GTE-Pro Lead Lap: 95, 63, 91, 97, 51, 71, 67, 68
GTE-Am Lead Lap: 84
Retirements: 4, 88, 26, 82, 25, 7, 9, 92, 28
Hour 15:51: Aston Martin's #95 Vantage has led the vast majority of this race in GTE-Pro, but while that lead may be comfortable, the battle for second has been dramatic all day long. It just changed hands again, with the #91 Porsche making a move on the #51 AF Corse Ferrari on the inside in Indianapolis after going side-by-side all the way from Mulsanne to that braking zone.
Hour 15:30: Another hour, another fast Oreca in the wall. It's the Graff car, #40, this time, beached in the gravel at Indianapolis.
Hour 15:09: Back to green.
Hour 15:00, Safety Car 3: The sun has officially risen at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Just nine hours to go.
Hour 14:56, Safety Car 3: The #71 AF Corse team has used this safety car period as an opportunity to complete their scheduled brake changes on that car, which led GTE-Pro before the safety car came out.
Hour 14:45, Safety Car 3: The TDS Racing car, the #28 Oreca, has careened into a barrier in the Porsche curves at full speed, bringing out the safety car. It was a pretty big hit, but driver Emmanuel Collard seems to have walked out of the car under his own power.
Hour 14:18: Rebellion #18 spins from third in LMP2, but doesn't get stuck and re-fires, seemingly without issue.
Hour 13:58: The #21 Dragonspeed - 10 Star Oreca appears to have some sort of issue, having spouted smoke into the Dunlop curves and now limping back around the track to the pit lane.
Hour 13:50: The #92 Porsche's hit did not look too hard, but it was enough to cause catastrophic damage. That car is officially retired.
Hour 13:45: Fairly quiet now at what is just before 5 AM local time. Sunrise is officially over an hour away, but sunlight returns to the track over the next hour.
Hour 13:05: The #92 Porsche GTE-Pro entry has spun in the Ford chicanes from sixth in class and is stuck deep in the dirt. With nine cars on the lead lap in that class, that delay could be catastrophic.
Hour 12:50: An incredible lap by Ho-Pin Tung has the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca taking the lead in LMP2, and second overall, from the #13 Rebellion car during that last cycle of stops.
Hour 12:20: That car rejoins in third in class, fourth overall, after a fairly quick repair of something under the bodywork. The #13 Rebellion car moves into that class lead, while the #38 of Jackie Chan DC Racing moves to second.
Hour 12:14: The #31 Rebellion Oreca, the leader in LMP2 and the car running second overall, seems to have some sort of issue and makes an unscheduled stop. That car will go into the garage for what the team hopes will be a quick diagnosis and repair.
Hour 12 Update:
Welcome to halfway!
In the past four hours, two of the top three cars overall have retired, with both the #7 and #9 Toyota TS050s falling victim to the perils of an eight-mile limp home after suffering damage at the beginning of a lap. The #64 Corvette suffered as well, losing a wheel in a high-speed corner while running second, but lost only three laps during the repairs.
LMP1 Lead Lap: 1
LMP2 Lead Lap: 31, 38, 13
GTE-Pro Lead Lap: 95, 97, 91, 71, 92, 51, 67
GTE-Am Lead Lap: 84
Retirements: 4, 88, 26, 82, 25, 7, 9
Hour 11:33: The #49 Ligier LMP2 car is buried deep in the gravel in the Porsche curves after a fast spin. That car is well behind the leaders in-class.
Hour 11:27: Contact between two GTE-Am Ferraris leaves the #62 Scuderia Corsa entry of Townsend Bell in the gravel. Seemingly, that car has no damage to report.
Hour 11:06: The #50 Larbre Competition GTE-Am Corvette is slow on the Mulsanne with an issue of some sort.
Hour 10:50: Back to green.
Hour 10:42, Safety Car 2: Something to keep an eye on is the recent proliferation of safety cars. While the field was running under green, the #1 Porsche 919 put nine laps on the top LMP2 car, the #13 Rebellion, over the race's first nine hours. At that pace, the #2 Porsche would easily catch that entry and move into second overall. Safety cars reduce the time that the #2, soon to be second in LMP1, could be using to make up the gap to the LMP2 leaders. Many more during the race's overnight hours and that car may not be able to catch the LMP2 leaders, meaning a retirement for the #1 would be enough for the LMP2 winner to win the race overall.
Hour 10:32, Safety Car 2: The #9 is retired, joining the #7. With the #8 nearly 30 laps down, Toyota's race is all but over.
Hour 10:24, Safety Car 2: Toyota reports that the #9's issues were the result of with an LMP2 car, potentially the #25 seen wrecked in one of the dimly lit corners of the track that the stationary cameras the race's broadcasters use at night aren't able to adequately capture.
That car has limped all the way back to the pit entry only to stop again, within sight of the pit lane. That this car limped all the way back to the Ford chicanes after the puncture caused a fire as early as Tetre Rouge is incredibly impressive, and even as Lapierre prepares to get out of that car, the #9 team certainly has something to be proud of.
Hour 10:21, Safety Car 2: The #9's fire out and it is running again, but the car only gets to the Porsche curves before stopping again.
Hour 10:15, Safety Car 2: Toyota's bad day gets worse; The #9 Toyota, driven by Nicolas Lapierre at the moment, blows a tire and seems to have sustained some sort of suspension damage. It blew in the Dunlop curves, leaving that car with just as long of a limp-home as the #7 had just suffered. The car is leaking a pretty substantial amount of hydraulic damage and that fluid seems to have caught fire.
The #9 is now stopped on track and the safety car is back out.
The #25 LMP2 car has also had a collision of some sort, with driver Simon Trummer safely out of the car.
Hour 10:09: Toyota #7 is stopped for the final time in the lead-up to the Porsche curves. Kamui Kobayashi jumps off the sidepod and his race is over, the #7 Toyota TS050 will be retired.
Hour 10:04: There's the miracle! The #7 Toyota re-fires and makes it all the way to Arnage before stopping again. Ever so slowly, the car is on its way back.
Hour 10:01: The #7's last lurches are over. Toyota's hare needs a miracle to even make it back to the garage, their tortoise, the #9, is their only hope left. That car sits a full lap down and hasn't put down a lap in the 3:18s yet, the range all of the top four cars had been lapping in throughout the early running. This overall win doesn't seem likely to be decided by an on-track battle.
Hour 9:56: The #7 stops on track before lurching forward ever so slightly. This looks to be a miserable, miserable repeat of what happened to Toyota's dominant cars overnight in 2014 and with just a minute to go in 2016, and this time their two fastest cars might not make it to halfway.
Hour 9:53: After all that time, the #7 just halfway home with what has now been predicted to be a clutch issue. The car seems to only be getting slower as it makes drives toward Indianapolis.
Hour 9:49: While all this is happening to Toyota's top contender, the #7, their #8 has finally left the garage after 2 hours of repairs. Notably, that car is 30 laps down, too far back to catch the LMP2 leaders if they continue at the pace they have all race. If the problems for the #7 prove catastrophic, the #2 has any further issues at all and the #1 and #9 have major issues, this race will likely go to an LMP2 car.
Hour 9:48: We have an overall lead change as the #1 Porsche finds and passes the slowing #7 Toyota. Porsche leads overall outright for the first time today and, suddenly, Toyota has a disaster on its hands.
Hour 9:46: Just a minute into this stint and immediately a problem. The #7 Toyota, the race's overall leader, is slow in the Dunlop curves. The car is running in limp home mode with seven miles of track between it and the garage. This could spell disaster for what has, until now, been Toyota's only healthy runner.
Hour 9:45: Back to green after what was, by the standards of this race, a quick clean-up.
Hour 9:30, Safety Car 1: An odd issue for the car running second overall as the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid spins under the safety car on its way to stop. Neel Jani is the spinning driver, simply failing to slow down in time for the chicane before entering the pit lane, and the team makes a precautionary front bodywork change. Fortunately for the team, the three-car safety car procedure-related closed pit system means there shouldn't be any additional time lost for that delay.
Hour 9:19, Safety Car 1: The #66 Ford spins into the gravel, then violently shakes after returning to the track, scattering that gravel all over the racing line. In hour 9, this brings out the first safety car of the race and the first chance for new teams to experience the intricacies of the race's unique three-car safety car system. Ford has taken advantage of this slowdown and the #66, which is currently being repaired, is joined in the garage by the #68 GT, which is undergoing what seems to be a previously-scheduled brake change.
Hour 8:53: The #9 Toyota, which has had minor issues throughout the day, is having its right-side number panel changed on the pit lane. The stop has taken about two minutes longer than average.
The #13 Rebellion Oreca, leader in LMP2, also has some bodywork changes to do, swapping out the rear wing. It's a quick repair, about 20 seconds, but probably enough of a delay to move that car down to second in class, behind the team's #31 entry.
Hour 8:25: Something to keep an eye on for the leading #7 Toyota, which has already been warned about exceeding track limits:
Hour 8:10: The #64 Corvette returns, having lost just three laps on what were fairly extensive repairs.
Hour 8:02: The issue on the #64 Corvette is a lost wheel in the Porsche curves. The issue on the #8 Toyota is yet to be diagnosed.
Hour 8 Recap
Night has fallen a third of the way into the race and, with it, the hopes of some of the race's most notable contenders. In LMP1, it's the yet-to-be-diagnosed brake or hybrid system issues of the #8 Toyota shaking up the running order, leaving only the #7 Toyota and #1 Porsche among the contenders for the overall win yet to face trouble. In GTE-Pro, it's the #64 Corvette, which just moments ago crashed hard after losing a wheel in the Porsche curves. Both were running second in marquee classes just an hour ago. Le Mans is a race about survival just as much as it is one about speed, and even the fastest can't win the race if they can't make it through the night.
LMP1 Lead Lap: 7, 1
LMP2 Lead Lap: 31, 13, 38, 24, 25, 35
GTE-Pro Lead Lap: 97, 67, 51, 71, 68, 69, 92, 91, 95, 66, 63
GTE-Am Lead Lap: 84, 90, 77, 62, 55
Retirements: 4, 88, 26, 82
Hour 7:53: The night is young, but it has been brutal to the contenders already. Next to fall is the #64 Corvette of Tommy Milner, which spins into the Posrche curves from second in GTE-Pro and takes some significant damage. He spins again heading towards the pits with what looks to be some sort of tire or suspension damage and the car is now beached, mere inches from the pit lane.
Hour 7:48: The #8 Toyota has no known issue and the team ensures that it is healthy, and despite the quick pace it has been able to keep up, driver Sebastien Buemi is confident there's an issue. He brings the car in, and the right front is immediately emitting the sort of smoke that implies a small fire. The car is parked for about six seconds while the fire is put out, then sent behind the wall.
Toyota's #8 TS050 is now in the garage, investigating what looks to be a brake harvesting system in the front of the car. Fox Sports reporter Justin Bell describes the smell of the brake fire as "Noxious and toxic".
Hour 7:34: The #31 Rebellion Oreca, the leader in LMP2, has been handed a drive-through penalty for overtaking in a slow zone. As that car holds a massive lead of a full minute on its teammate, the #13, it should still lead after serving that penalty.
Hour 7:12: It's another puncture for an Aston Martin, this time the right-front of the #98 GTE-Am leader. That car seems to have made some and, surely, Dunlop must be worried about the pattern developing.
Hour 6:45: The #60 GTE-Am Ferrari spins on the exit of Mulsanne and is firmly stuck in the sand. Will be a long delay for that Clearwater Racing entry.
Hour 6:34: Just a lap later, the #8 Toyota is clear to second overall.
Hour 6:30: It's worth noting that, while the #1 Porsche 919 hasn't exactly been pressuring the #7 all race long, it hasn't lost with the leaders. That car's fastest lap is just a tenth of a second slower than the overall fastest of the race, and after six and a half hours of green flag running, that car is only 20 seconds behind the #7 Toyota and still ahead of the #8 Toyota, albeit only by a second or so.
Hour 5:58: The #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, running fifth in LMP2 at the time, spins in the Ford chicanes. That car's stuck pretty deeply in the gravel after losing control and will lose a few minutes being extracted.
Hour 5:55: The long slow zone along the Mulsanne is cleared up and we're back under full green flag conditions with just over 18 hours to go.
Hour 5:35: The incredible versatility of the slow zone system is in full force as half of the track remains green during what would have otherwise been a 40-minute safety car period. Unfortunately, the incident that sparked the cleanup seems to have forced an official retirement, the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari.
Hour 5:24: A lengthy cleanup continues and it'll only get lengthier, as the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari blows a tire, limps through the slow zone for the cleanup for the #82, and shreds the carcass of that tire right next to the scene of the wreck.
Hour 5:02: Ferrari #82, the Risi Competizione entry of Pierre Kaffer, is spun into the first Mulsanne chicane by an LMP2 car, the #28 TDS Racing Oreca of Matthieu Vauxiviere. The prototype driver absolutely seemed to have been at fault, Kaffer's now-destroyed and likely to be retired Ferrari 488 GTE was just a victim of placement.
Hour 4:55: The #2 Porsche returns after a shorter-than-expected repair. That 919 Hybrid is 19 laps down, perhaps not the end of that car's race just yet.
Hour 4:50: Toyota #9 has an open passenger-side door that the driver, SuperGT and Super Formula ace Yuji Kunimoto, isn't able to reach it to close it. A unique problem for what has been a moderately unlucky race throughout for Toyota's third TS050.
Hour 4:43: The LMP2 class has produced some spectacular racing through the race's first five hours, but it has also produced more than its share of stalled and spun cars. This time, it's the #47 Dallara of Cetilar Villorba Corse trapped in the gravel in the Ford chicanes, needing a crane to be lifted back onto the course.
Hour 4:34: The #36 Alpine-branded Signatech Oreca goes into the garage with some sort of gearbox issue. That car had been just off the lead lap for the past few hours.
Hour 4:02: A spin for Dirk Werner in the #92 Porsche, which makes with the #64 Corvette. GTE-Pro is getting heated.
Hour 4 Update
A sixth of the way into the world's greatest endurance race, the big news is a disastrous issue for the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid. That car has just experienced an electric motor failure, a serious issue forcing a repair expected to take an hour and a half. With Toyota proving faster and still boasting three healthy cars, the battle for the overall win is far less open than it was in hour 1.
LMP1 Lead Lap: 7, 1, 8, 9
LMP2 Lead Lap: 13, 31, 38, 24, 37
GTE-Pro Lead Lap: 71, 66, 97, 67, 69, 91, 51, 92, 64, 82, 63, 68
GTE-Am Lead Lap: 84, 98, 62, 90, 55, 77, 65, 61
Retirements: 4, 88, 26
Hour 3:57: Repairs to the #2 are expected to take nearly 90 minutes. It's a crushing blow for Porsche, which is essentially down to just one contending car already. One Porsche, three Toyotas, 20 hours left.
Hour 3:45: It's an electric motor failure for the #2 Porsche, severely inhibiting the amount of power it can put down to the ground. The car is also said to have a braking problem, and given the way that harvesting systems are integrated into the brake systems of these hybrid LMP1 entries, one would imagine those are related.
Hour 3:40: Another lock-up from an LMP2 car leads to another Oreca gliding slowly into the tire barrier outside Indianapolis. It's the TDS Racing car this time, and despite the car's Toyota lookalike livery causing a good bit of panic, it doesn't seem to be too significant a hit.
Hour 3:33: Just three and a half hours into the race, we have a factory hybrid LMP1 car in the garage. It's the #2 Porsche, and the team has already removed the front bodywork. Not clear what the issue is, and the lack of significant motion around the car implies that the team may not know, either.
A replay shows a suspicious puff of smoke floating out of the rear of that care out of the Mulsanne corner a few laps ago.
Hour 3:27: Fairly significant rear bodywork damage for the #95, which has lost a sizable chunk of the left side of the rear bumper and diffuser. The #97 Aston Martin, the new leader in GTE-Pro, is under pretty significant pressure from the #67 Ford GT.
Hour 3:23: The GTE-Pro leader, the #95 Aston Martin, is slowing on the second leg of the Mulsanne with a punctured left-rear tire. That makes for a long limp home for what had previously been one of the quickest cars in the field.
Hour 3:12: Probably not the best decision on the part of Manor's Simon Trummer, who puts his #25 Oreca into the runoff area to move into sixth in LMP2, ahead of the #27 SMP Racing Dallara. There's 21 hours left in this race.
Hour 3:00: Ben Keating is launched into a spin his Riley LMP2 car in the Ford Chicanes, taking out just about all of the foam advertisement boards in the runoff areas before backing into the wall lightly. The spin began after making with the #91 Porsche, fifth in GTE-Pro, but the GT entry didn't seem to sustain any damage. The WeatherTech-backed entry of Keating has made its way into the pit lane.
Hour 2:49: That #38 successfully limps back to the pits, but the left-front fender does not. The bodywork flew off just a corner before the car stopped, and a nose change fixes the issue relatively quickly.
There's a lead change in LMP2 as well, with the #13 Rebellion Racing Oreca passing the team #31. The Rebellion program seems to have no issues with their cars battling with one another with 21 hours left, an odd choice but one Toyota seems to be making as well.
Hour 2:46: The #38 Oreca of Jackie Chan DC Racing, running third one lap ago and currently driven by Thomas Laurent, hits the wall lightly after failing to stop in time for Indianapolis. The car seems to have sustained no damage, but it took about a minute to re-fire and will fall to sixth in class.
Hour 2:39: Impressively, it's still a 1-2 in GTE-Pro for Aston Martin Racing. Third has been swapped a few times now, between AF Corse Ferraris, Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs, and Corvette Racing C7.Rs, but it currently belongs to Porsche's #92 911 GT3 RSR.
Hour 2:20: The end of stint three for the overall leaders means the first set of driver changes in LMP1. Kamui Kobayashi is now behind the wheel of the overall leading #7.
Hour 1:59: Ford GT #69 looked like it was headed behind the wall from the top three in GTE-Pro, but after a long deliberation, the team completes a rear wing swap on the pit lane. The decision to move the car into the pits, and resulting move to do the change outside of the garage instead, cost the team significant time.
Hour 1:51: Retirement number 3 is the #26 G-Drive Oreca, which started on the LMP2 pole.
Hour 1:39: The second official retirement follows immediately afterward and it's the #4 ByKolles Racing LMP1 car. Just five cars left in the top class, all factory entries.
Hour 1:37: The #88 Proton Racing GTE-Am Porsche has been retired after sustaining significant damage in that prior incident.
Hour 1:30: It's an off for the #8 Toyota, who goes wide into the runoff in Mulsanne. There's no damage and the car rejoins in second, but if Buemi is pushing that car that hard to catch his own teammate, this team should probably be reconsidering its strategy of pushing their top two cars so hard against each other while their third TS050 is still in just fifth, behind the top Porsches.
Hour 1:18: We have our first significant of the race as Khaled Al-Quibasi and Romain Rusinov, in the #88 GTE-Am Porsche and #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca LMP2 car respectively, make into the Porsche curves. The #88 has sustained significant damage but is able to drive back into the pits, while the #26 is unable to limp back to the pits and stops on track in the Ford chicanes. Another slow zone is called for clean-up, and while that might not be the end of the race for the LMP2 pole-sitting #26, the significant depth of the field of strong Orecas in that class is probably enough to take the damaged car out of contention.
Hour 1:15: The #9 Toyota, currently driven by Nicolas Lapierre, goes off-track to pass the GTE-Pro leaders and spends a not-insignificant amount of time in the air after hitting a bump in the runoff area. No reported damage, but probably not ideal for a car that's already had issues after hitting debris on lap 1.
Up front, Toyota #7 has passed Toyota #8 for another overall lead change.
Hour 1:04: In LMP2, the #31 Rebellion Oreca now leads over the two Manor Orecas that have yet to have an issue, the #25 ahead of the #24, and the second Rebellion car. That's more or less what was expected, and the two Jackie Chan DC Racing Orecas in fifth and sixth are about where they were expected to be as well. Your first entry in the standings not listed is the Alpine A470 of Signatech, which is itself a rebranded Oreca 07.
So, Oreca is probably going to win LMP2.
Hour 0:58: After one set of stops, it's still an Aston Martin 1-2 in GTE-Pro, and an hour into the race the entire field is still within about 30 seconds.
Hour 0:49: The overall lead change is completed a lap later and we've got a new Toyota up front and the #7 is now under threat from the #2 Porsche.
Hour 0:43: Overall leaders complete pitting on lap 13 and we have a battle for the overall lead as the #8 Toyota leapfrogs the #2 Porsche and is now directly behind the race-leading #7 TS050.
Hour 0:40: Toyota #9, the one well adrift of the top four overall, stops on lap 11, the first LMP1 contender to do so.
Hour 0:36: Aston Martin's #95 has a four second lead in GTE-Pro, but there isn't a gap larger than a second from 2nd to 10th in class. Every manufacturer is represented in that group. This could be one to remember.
Hour 0:28: Damage from with debris off the ByKolles car on lap 1 has consistently slowed the #9 Toyota, which will need to suffer a loss of about a second a lap to the top four until its first stop. That group up front remains within just a few seconds of one another, but the #9 is now 20 seconds adrift of the overall leader.
Hour 0:24: Two offs in LMP2 give us the first two slow zones of the day, for the #36 Alpine-Gibson and the #26 G-Drive Oreca. The #36 seems to have no damage after taking a trip through the gravel, while the #26 stops for a quick front bodywork change.
Hour 0:09: With the gap up front up to 3 seconds, Toyota #8 and driver Sebastien Buemi are now pressuring Porsche #2 heavily for second.
Hour 0:08: The damage to the ByKolles car doesn't seem to be substantial, with a patient tire change and quick bodywork adjustment all the repairs needed. We've still got a full LMP1 field, at least for now.
Hour 0:00: Green. Pace car driver Mark Webber gets off the track, probably at least somewhat begrudgingly, and we've got a mad dash into the Dunlop curves. The pole-sitting Toyota has no problems getting into turn 1 at the front of the field, but a wiggle by the #8 behind it moves Porsche's fastest entry into second already. Toyota-Porsche-Toyota-Porsche-Toyota up front, with a collision at Tetre Rouge a minute into the race already delaying the ByKolles privateer entry completing the LMP1 field.
Your class leaders after one lap are the #26 G-Drive Oreca in LMP2, the #97 Aston Martin in GTE-Pro, and the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette in GTE-Am.
0:05 Before: The grid is firing to life down the front straight of the world's last great grand tour street circuit. It's a long formation lap here, as one would imagine from a track legendary for its gargantuan 8.5-mile length, a particularly tense trek around the French countryside before the race begins. With safety cars splitting the field in three here and a substantial portion of the field unlikely to make it to sunset, let alone make it through the night, this is the last time we'll see the field all together for some time.
The Night Before: It's an odd year at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Just two years ago, full-force efforts from Audi, Toyota, and Porsche in LMP1 made for an incredibly memorable battle that went down to the wire, with all three manufacturers leading at different points. Audi, stalwarts of the top class of sports car racing since before it was first called Le Mans Prototype 1, exited the category last year, and with Porsche rumored to follow, this could be the final year of a factory-versus-factory, Goliath-versus-Goliath battle for the overall win in the world's most storied endurance race for quite a while.
If it is the end of that era, one that's been defined by two- and three-marque rivalries between factory programs with budgets that would make a smaller Formula 1 team blush, this will be an interesting race to end that era on. Toyota has generally had plenty of speed at the Circuit de la Sarthe since returning in 2012, but while they have been able to show pace, their reliability concerns have lost them the race in both of the past two years (This was particularly dramatic last year, when their leading TS050 failed just after taking the white flag and produced one of the most heartbreaking losses you'll see in any sport). This year, they've taken that pace to the extreme, taking pole in record time with a lap three seconds quicker than anything Porsche's two cars have proven themselves capable of during practice and qualifying. They'll have to maintain that pace throughout the race to win, yes, but just as concerning for the Toyota program will be ensuring that all three of their cars finish the race.
While LMP1 may be struggling to maintain factory-funded programs, GTE-Pro's issue may soon be not having enough allocated grid space to accept every factory that wants to run. Porsche and Aston Martin's usual FIA World Endurance Championship factory programs are running two cars each in the class this year, while Corvette Racing brings brings their two IMSA entries and Ferrari brings two 488 GTEs from the factory-supported AF Corse program as well as one from the well-supported privateer IMSA program Risi Competizione. Ford out-represents them all, however, as the manufacturer enters two cars each from their IMSA and WEC teams, something similar to the two front factory assault BMW plans on bringing to the race next year when they launch a program expected to be based on the new 8-Series.
GTE-Pro's crowded field of well-funded entries seems particularly well balanced this year, with all thirteen entries qualifying within two seconds of one another, a gap that would be equivalent to around a second on a smaller, slower track than the 8.5 mile Circuit de la Sarthe. This will be the race to watch, a welcome change after Ford's dominance with their GTs last season left the top category for production-based cars in the world as noncompetitive as it had been since the GT1 days, and while Aston Martin and AF Corse's Ferraris seem to have the pace advantage on one-lap runs, any car entered can take this class win.
The race begins at 6:00 AM PST, 3:00 PM local time, and will air live in the U.S. on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 throughout the day, with the entire race being streamed on Fox Sports GO. For the full starting grid, check out . This live blog will update continuously throughout the race, so if you can't watch all 24 hours in one sitting, check back in here to see what you've missed.