2018 24 Hours of Le Mans - The Live Blog

Toyota and high-profile rookie Fernando Alonso have a theoretically easy path to a win in one of the world's two biggest races; All that stands between them is 24 hours of the toughest test of endurance in the world.

Le Mans 24 Hour Race
Getty ImagesJames Moy Photography

Hour 24:00: Toyota officially wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans! Their #8 of Fernando Alonso, Bruno Senna, and Kazuki Nakajima takes the overall win ahead of their #7, driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez, and Mike Conway. The top LMP1 privateer is the #3 Rebellion in third, piloted by Thomas Laurent, Mathias Beche, and Gustavo Menezes.

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GTE-Pro goes to the #92 Porsche, the "Pink Pig," of Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, and Laurens Vanthoor. The #91 Porsche and #68 Ford GT complete that podium.

The #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche takes GTE-Am, while the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca takes LMP2. All four won through varying levels of dominance in what was notably a significantly less competitive 24 hour classic than that of the past few years.

Hour 23:57: Final lap. That position looks unlikely to change hands in LMP2.

Hour 23:51: The battle for the last spot on the LMP2 podium is now down to just a few seconds on track, with the Graff-SO24 entry of Tristan Gommendy leading the TDS Racing car of Loic Duval. The more proven Duval will have about three laps to try to gain the position.

Hour 23:16: SMP Racing confirms an engine failure on their #11 LMP1 entry.

Hour 23:08: The #11 SMP Racing Prototype parks at Indianapolis after it suddenly emits smoke. That looks to be a heartbreaking 24th hour retirement for the LMP1 debut of both SMP Racing and Jenson Button.

Hour 23:00: One hour remains.

Hour 22:45: AF Corse Ferrari #51 goes into the garage unexpectedly from sixth in GTE-Pro. The reason is unclear.

Hour 22:37: Toyota confirms that the #7 simply missed the pit entrance at the end of its previous stint.

The #90 GTE-Am Aston Martin takes an excursion into the gravel and brings out a slow zone, which is removed after a quick recovery.

Hour 22:29: The #7 Toyota's issue was, reportedly, something as simple as not having enough fuel to complete the lap. If that is the case, it went into limp-home mode to ensure that it could finish the stint without stopping on track, and there is no issue with the car itself.

Hour 22:25: The #7 resumes at full speed with a few corners to go in its limp-home lap, but still makes an unscheduled stop. The team refuels, fiddles with a few thing on the side of the car, and the #7 Toyota returns to the track, now a lap off the lead but still comfortably in second overall.

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Hour 22:21: The #7 Toyota has an issue! It slows along the Mulsanne from second overall with just over 90 minutes left in the race. The car will limp home in an attempt to see if it can be fixed, and, with its 12 lap lead on third, that leaves Toyota just over 30 minutes to repair the car and retain its 1-2 finish.

Hour 22:15: The gap from second to third in GTE-Pro, still the best battle on track, is now sitting at six seconds, with the #92 Porsche still leading the #68 Ford GT.

The #32 United Autosport car, currently running in fourth, has a puncture at the end of the Mulsanne. That will derail that car's outside shot at a podium in class.

Hour 21:40: Fernando Alonso exits the #8 Toyota with it in the race lead. Whatever happens next is beyond his control.

Hour 21:35: The #48 IDEC Racing LMP2 entry, which had run second in class just 75 minutes ago, has been retired.

🚨 ABANDON DE L’ORECA #48

Après 21h de course où nous avons donner le meilleur de nous-même, c’est une casse mécanique qui nous oblige à baisser les armes et signer un abandon à 3H du drapeau à damier.

— IDEC SPORT Racing (@IDECSportRacing)

Hour 21:28: The #85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari, running second in GTE-Am, has spun into the sand in Mulsanne corner. A quick slow zone is declared as the car is de-beached, but the salvage effort takes long enough that the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari has moved into second in class. The #85 is also now in danger of losing its final podium spot in class to the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche, running just under a minute behind in fourth.

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In GTE-Pro, the gap that grew to 20 seconds after the #68 Ford's driver change has become just eight seconds after the #91 Porsche, still in control of the second position in class, made a change of their own. The off-strategy #67 Ford is again splitting the two, third in class.

Hour 21:05: The #91 Porsche, still driven by Makowiecki, has built his hold on the second position in GTE-Pro to seventeen seconds over the #68 Ford GT.

Hour 20:45: The full quotes from Bourdais on Makowiecki and on officiating throughout the weekend:

. on : “For me this is not racing. It’s extremely dangerous and exposes the complete unfairness of the BoP. If this is the way the governing body wants us to be on track… then I probably shouldn’t be here because I’m not OK with it.”

— John Dagys (@johndagys)

Bourdais to : "I don’t think you want to know what I think. For me this is not racing. It’s extremely dangerous. It exposes the unfairness of the BoP. It shows how the governing body wants us to be on power on weight." (1/2)

— Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

More: "It’s such a joke. To then be OK with driving standards like this, I don’t want to be here." (2/2)

— Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Hour 20:42: The #7 Toyota has spun on its own! Jose Maria Lopez simply lost control of that car, running second overall, heading up toward the Dunlop bridge. The car does not go off track and does not make with anything else, so the mistake will seemingly go unpunished.

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Hour 20:39: The IDEC Sport #48 returns to the track, having lost around one lap during that time behind the wall. Unfortunately for that team, a large portion of the LMP2 field is also on that lap, and the car has fallen from second to sixth in the running order.

Sebastien Bourdais, meanwhile, is not bothering to hide his frustration with Frederic Makowiecki after he repeatedly chose to aggressively block in an effort to retain second in GTE-Pro over the past hour.

Hour 20:35: The IDEC Sport #48 is behind the wall, undergoing some sort of repair behind the rear bodywork. That car was running third in LMP2, a class where every entry but the leader seems to have found trouble.

The rain expected to fall in this hour is now expected to fall closer to the final hour of the race.

Hour 20:34: After all their stops cycle out, the #91 Porsche (still driven by Makowiecki) is ahead of the #68 Ford (now driven by Joey Hand) and the #67 (still driven by Andy Priaulx, who is about 3/4ths of a stop cycle off sequence).

The stewards have determined that the #91 will receive no penalties for its blocking while racing the #68 during the last stint.

Hour 20:30: Bourdais will get out of the #68 under this stop, potentially ending this battle on-track for the time being.

That battle was both extremely good and nearly 45 minutes long. Bourdais could use a breather.

Hour 20:25: Bourdais passes around the outside in the nearly flat out corner heading into Indianapolis, allowing him to take the inside line through both Arnage and Indianapolis. Makowiecki passes back into the Porsche curves, then blocks Bourdais into the runoff area to retain the position. The pair have had what can be described as a lively lap.

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Hour 20:24: After ten minutes of setting up the pass, Sebastien Bourdais passes Frederic Makowiecki. Unfortunately for the driver of the #68 Ford, Makowiecki found his way past just one turn later. The #91 Porsche remains in second in GTE-Pro.

Hour 20:14: With the #67 Ford having long since passed the pair, stopped off-cycle, and fallen back behind them, the #91 Porsche and #68 Ford GT are still fighting for second overall. Sebastien Bourdais has tried to move the Ford into the position twice on the last lap, but Frederic Makowiecki has not yielded yet.

Hour 20:06: Rain is expected to return within the hour. Will it be the sort of light drizzle that doesn't so much as warrant a switch to intermediates, like what the track saw throughout the first four hours of the race, or will it be the sort of Sunday storm that seems to show up just in time to turn this race on its head every four or five years?

Hour 19:54: After thirty minutes of running behind the #91 Porsche and the #68 Ford GT for second in GTE-Pro, Andy Priaulx decides to take the #67 Ford GT up to second in class with three passes for position (one on his teammate, one on the #91 Porsche, and another pass on that same car a minute later) on the same lap. The #67 GT is now up to second. Those three constitute, by far, the best battle on track.

Hour 19:30: The #23 Panis Barthez Competition LMP2 entrant, which has run between second and fourth for most of the race and was running second just a lap ago, is going behind the wall for what is expected to be a clutch repair. That's another potential LMP2 podium finisher presumably falling out of contention.

Hour 19:18: Back to green, but the slow zone for the drying concrete remains.

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Hour 19:08, Safety Car #4: The #8 Toyota is a safety car ahead of the #7 Toyota and the #92 Porsche is two full safety cars ahead of the #91 Porsche and #68 Ford, meaning that those leads should be comfortably safe in the near future. The leads in LMP2 and GTE-Am are a full lap and, theoretically, should be safe for the next six hours.

Hour 19:02, Safety Car #4: The #22 United Autosport LMP2 has crashed in the Porsche curves. That car, at that moment under the control of former Force India F1 driver Paul di Resta, was running fourth in class and had a real chance of finishing as high as second. The car took a heavy head-on impact into an unprotected interior wall, and it will likely be retired shortly.

Eurosport's broadcast, meanwhile, is showing Tom Kristensen telestrate footage of the previous hour's track repairs.

Hour 18:49: The #50 Larbre Competition LMP2 car is beached, immediately after the slow zone in Tetre Rouge. The slow zone is extended to give the marshals a chance to recover that car, and it makes its way back onto the track.

Hour 18:42: The race is green, albeit with the aforementioned slow zone in place.

The #92 Porsche was two safety cars ahead of the GTE-Pro field, but the #91 Porsche, #68 Ford GT, and #67 Ford GT were all caught behind the second safety car, opening up a dash for second in that class.

Hour 18:38, Safety Car #3: The steel grate has been repaired, but it will take a while to harden, so the race will soon resume with a slow zone at the area with the drying grate for the foreseeable future.

Hour 18:12, Safety Car #3: A steel grate has been pulled upon the track surface by 18 hours of high-downforce cars running over it, bringing out a rare incident-free safety car.

Also under safety car, the #97 GTE-Pro Aston Martin Vantage is slow on the Mulsanne, past the second chicane.

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The #91 Porsche, previously granted a massive lead by fortunate safety car timing, will not lose its lead in GTE-Pro despite stopping under this safety car period. The car was instead so far ahead of the field that it was able to afford itself the luxury of a very long stop and still return to the course with at least an entire safety car's lead.

Hour 18:00: At the three-quarter mark, the race looks quite a bit like it did twelve hours ago. Six hours remain.

Hour 17:51: The #52 AF Corse Ferrari, for some reason, made with the GTE-Pro-leading #92 Porsche while unlapping itself. Neither car appears to have accrued damage, but the Porsche team is having a few lively conversations amongst themselves about the incident.

Hour 17:14: Unsurprisingly, the #10 DragonSpeed LMP1 entry will be retired after its hard shunt in the Porsche curves. Attrition has hit the privateer LMP1 ranks far harder than it has anything else.

Hour 17:01: Tracy Krohn spins near Indianapolis with no and rejoins the track. An annual tradition.

Hour 16:53: With recovery complete, the slow zone is expired and the field is back to green.

Hour 16:48: The #20 TDS Racing LMP2 car is firmly beached in the very center of the gravel trap between the Ford chicanes and the pit lane entrance. Interesting place to be stopped, and it will bring out a slow zone at that spot for recovery.

Hour 16:31: Hey, remember when the #8 Toyota received a one minute stop-and-hold penalty for speeding in the slow zone? Did you think that was fun? Well, Toyota did too, so they orchestrated a sequel; Both Toyotas were caught above the speed limit in the slow zone and both will serve a one minute stop-and-hold penalty.

This will cut half a lap off their nine lap lead over the Rebellion pair and will not affect the comfortable 30 second gap between the leading #8 Toyota and the trailing #7 Toyota.

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Hour 16:23: Somehow, the DragonSpeed car is driving back to the pits. It does so diagonally, and with completely loose bodywork, but driver Ben Hanley may well be able to nurse it home.

Hour 16:20: The #10 DragonSpeed LMP1 car completely lost control in the Porsche curves, hitting the wall at full speed. That car looks particularly destroyed, so a slow zone will follow.

Hour 16:07: The #92 Porsche is in from its comfortable class lead for its brake change, one so quick that it will not dent that car's lead by any significant margin.

Hour 16:03: The #88 Dempsey Proton Porsche, previously running in the top five in GTE-Am, is hard into the wall at the end of the Ford chicanes. It's a hard impact, and the car's recovery will prompt a slow zone in the area.

Hour 15:49: The #82 BMW M8 GTE-Pro entry has been retired following the with the barrier it took twenty minutes earlier.

😞 Retirement of the #82 after hitting the barrier a few minutes ago

— 24 Hours of Le Mans (@24hoursoflemans)

Hour 15:35: The #84 GTE-Am JMW Ferrari is being recovered from the end of the Mulsanne. Presumably, that was from an earlier incident and is why the slow zone for the recovery of the #28 was extended so far back.

Hour 15:30: GTE-Pro BMW #82 has some sort of mechanical issue in its right-rear corner after backing into the wall in the Porsche curves. That car is billowing smoke in the pit lane, dropped its entire diffuser in the pit lane entrance, and will go into the garage for repairs.

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Hour 15:28: The #28 Cetilar Villorba LMP2 entry is into the wall at Indianapolis, very firmly beached on the gravel in the runoff. That will bring out another slow zone.

Hour 15:25: We have a change for the overall lead! The #8 Toyota has passed the #7 Toyota. Fernando Alonso has not been in that car for hours, but the lead change was still described as involving "Fernando Alonso's car," if you're wondering why Toyota would approve of such a thing.

Hour 15:20: We have entered the time of the race where the cuts of pork are explained during a race broadcast.

Hour 15:00: Dawn breaks over the Circuit de la Sarthe. Surprisingly, the class leaders at sunset have all survived and maintained their lead in more or less the same form at sunrise. Nine hours remain.

Hour 14:41: The #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 entry is in the pit lane with no power, having to be pushed by hand to its stall, but it re-fires after a quick re-fueling and returns to the track.

Hour 14:18: The GTE-Pro order might flip in a few strange ways over the next few hours, as teams in those classes will be changing out their brake pads and discs over the next few cycles of stops.

Hour 13:45: Rebellion #1 returns to the track.

Hour 13:40: The #34 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 entry has retired with an engine failure.

Now I truly have tried everything Le Mans has to offer. We are DNF with a terminal engine failure. Game over.

— DHH Racing (@dhhracing)

Hour 13:35: The #1 Rebellion LMP1 entry, running third overall, is in the garage and undergoing some repairs under the front bodywork. That entry's team car, the #3, had also briefly been in and out of the garage, and those two stops should open Toyota's overall lead even further.

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The gap between the two cars at the front of the field, meanwhile, has shrunk considerably, and what was once a 90 second buffer is now down to just ten. Those cars may get a chance to race each other later on, but for now, Toyota is keeping them at arm's length.

Hour 13:34: The track is clear of slow zones, but there are other hazards. The #67 Ford GT, for instance, took a brief excursion exiting a corner on the Mulsanne, nearly hitting the LMP2-leading #26 G-Drive entry. The Ford continues without issue, however, and still runs fifth in class.

AUTO-FRA-24H-ENDURANCE-PRACTICE
Getty ImagesJEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER

Hour 13:26: Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 entry #37 has spun at the Ford Chicanes and stopped on track. It took no damage, but appears to be stuck in the gravel. A slow zone has been declared.

Hour 13:00: The #40 G-Drive LMP2 car is around and beached. A slow zone is declared to recover that car, which was well behind its class-leading teammate.

Hour 12:36: The #3 Rebellion rejoins the field. Seems to have been some sort of electronic issue, one that is presumably solved.

Hour 12:28: The #3 Rebellion is in the garage, being diagnosed for a potential issue. That was one of just two healthy LMP1 privateers left in the field.

Hour 12:00: Halfway. The field as it stands:

LMP1: Toyota #7 comfortably leads Toyota #8 after the #8 suffered from a speeding penalty. Only Rebellion #3 and Rebellion #1 are still within striking distance, but even they are three full laps behind.

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LMP2: The #26 G-Drive Racing entry is in complete control, holding a steady gap over the Signatech Alpine #36, Panis Barthez Competition #23, IDEC Sport #48, and TDS Racing #28 among other cars on or near the lead lap.

GTE-Pro: Thanks to a fortuitously-timed stop and a well-placed safety car, Porsche #92, the Pink Pig tribute car, holds a healthy two minute lead on its team #91. The #68 Ford GT is a further 45 seconds back, while the #52 AF Corse Ferrari, #67 Ford GT, #69 Ford GT, #63 Corvette, #51 AF Corse Ferrari, and #82 BMW are all within an optimistic definition of striking distance of the leading trio.

GTE-Am: The most competitive class of the day is still one that has been run mostly by one car. That would be the leading #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing entry, which is running on a different cycle than the #85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari that it is dueling and has alternated between being a full minute ahead and leading by a narrow gap. The #84 JMW Motorsports Ferrari and #43 Spirit of Race (AF Corse-run) Ferrari are also within about a lap and a half.

Official Retirees: #4 ByKolles LMP1, #6 TRSM Manor LMP1, #17 SMP Racing LMP1, #94 GTE-Pro Porsche Motorsport North America/CORE Autosport Porsche

Hour 11:40: The #31 DragonSpeed LMP2 entry is stuck in the gravel on the Mulsanne, near the second chicane. The marshals have opened a slow zone on that portion of the track.

Hour 11:36: Finally, the superior speed of the Porsche GTE-Pro entries has allowed the #91 car, the one painted in the Rothmans livery, to separate from the pack. It now sits a full minute ahead of the #68 Ford GT, and a minute and a half behind the class-leading #92 Porsche. Finally, those three return to the order they ran before a poorly timed safety car gave the #92 a massive advantage and pushed the #91 and #68 further back into the field, but what was once a total gap from first to third of 3 seconds is now ballooned to nearly three minutes.

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Hour 11:15: The #6 TRSM Manor LMP1 car has joined the list of retirees. Of the few cars retired, three are privateer LMP1 entrants.

Unfortunately we have retired #6. We suffered an electrical issue and couldnt restart the car. Tough day.

— Manor (@ManorWEC)

Hour 11:10: The #25 Algarve Pro Racing entry makes its way back to the garage, where it will undoubtedly undergo significant repairs.

Hour 11:03: The #25 Algarve Pro Racing LMP2 entry is spun and stalled on the Mulsanne curve. Driver Mark Patterson completes a three-point turn on the racing surface, which is probably not a great idea in any condition, let alone at night with headlights flickering on and off as the car stalls and resets itself. The car restarts and returns to the track, albeit with some sort of significant steering or suspension issue that will render its next four miles excruciatingly slow.

It makes with the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche, fifth in GTE-Am, but that car returns to the track without an issue.

Hour 10:28: Fernando Alonso is back in the #8 Toyota. That car is now well off the overall lead, thanks to the 60 second stop-and-hold penalty accrued by Sebastian Buemi, so Alonso will likely be asked to put in qualifying-pace laps if possible.

Hour 9:54: BMW #81 returns to the track after 20 minutes behind the wall. The repair was supposedly brake-related.

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Hour 9:45: The #6 CEFC TRSM Racing LMP1 car has stopped on track near Tetre Rouge. It has been pushed behind the wall with no stoppage.

Hour 9:34: BMW #81 is into the garage for diagnosis on some sort of issue on the front left corner.

Hour 9:15: It appears that the #94 GTE-Pro Porsche, run by the U.S.-based factory program, will officially retire. Their suspension issue has proven fatal. Its sister IMSA Porsche, #93, returns to the circuit in 15th in class.

Toyota #8 has received a 60 second stop-and-hold penalty for speeding in a slow zone. That firmly divides the two Toyotas, creating what will be about a two minute gap, and may well remove the illusion of even an intra-team battle for the overall win.

Hour 9:13: The #7 Toyota undergoes a nose change and returns to the track with no issue.

Hour 9:00: The SMP Racing #17 is officially retired as the clock strikes midnight at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Unfortunate, but hard to continue on after a car catches fire.

Hour 8:37: That’s the #17 SMP Racing LMP1 entry, running fifth overall. Heartbreaking and leaves just the two Rebellion entries as healthy LMP1 cars to push the Toyotas for the win overall. The incident will bring out a slow zone.

NIghtmare for No. 17 ! Driver managed to push the car back on the track but unfortunately...😰

— WEC🇯🇵🗻 (@FIAWEC)

Hour 8:00: Toyota #7, G-Drive #26, Porsche #92, and JMW/WeatherTech Ferrari #84 are your class leaders at 1/3rd time.

Hour 7:21: GTE-Pro has stabilized back to a Porsche 1-2-3, with the European-based retro-liveried cars again leading the way. An impressive debut continues for BMW, however, with the lead M8, #81, in fourth and ahead of the lone Corvette near the leaders, #63, and the lead Ford GT, #68. Through what has been nearly one third of the race, it remains the only class with consistent upheaval.

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Hour 7:02: Night falls over the Circuit de la Sarthe. Sunrise is about eight hours away.

Hour 6:50: The #98 Aston Martin Racing GTE-Am entry, being driven at the moment by Paul Dalla Lana, has found itself crashed into the tire barrier at the entry to the Porsche curves. A slow zone has been declared in the area.

Hour 6:44: The #0 ByKolles LMP1 entry is the first retirement of the race. This is unsurprising, given that it damaged all four corners in its wreck in the Porsche curves just over two hours ago.

Hour 6:37: The GTE-Pro lead is a comfortable and consistent two minutes for the #92 Porsche. That is entirely the result of a well-timed and well-placed safety car, and, if it were to have occurred about twelve hours later, would almost certainly have decided the race in-class. The nine GTE-Pro competitors behind that entry are within 30 seconds of one another.

The #94 Porsche, 11th in that class and just behind the ten closest contenders, has an issue in the rear corner, either a simple puncture or a suspension failure. It appears to be the latter.

The #94 is behind the wall undergoing repairs for that suspension issue.

AUTO-FRA-24H-ENDURANCE-QUALIFYING
Getty ImagesJEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER
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Hour 6:19: Starting to think that one of these Toyotas might win this one, you guys.

Hour 6:00: With the DragonSpeed LMP1 now in the garage undergoing some diagnostics, there are now just five LMP1 cars ahead of the LMP2 field. The two Toyotas are comfortably ahead overall, then the SMP #17 is ahead of both Rebellion cars, in turn in front of the the LMP2-leading #26 G-Drive car.

Hour 5:50: Juan Pablo Montoya, running in the United Autosport #52 LMP2 entry, has found himself in the tires at Indianapolis. A slow zone has been activated in the area.

Hour 5:43: The DragonSpeed LMP1 entry is unharmed, somehow, after this minor excursion:

That was WILD ! 😲

— WEC🇯🇵🗻 (@FIAWEC)

Hour 5:27: Porsche #92, leader in GTE-Pro, is warned about abusing track limits. That car has a lead of over 90 seconds, so it should probably stop abusing track limits.

Hour 5:16: Ford GT #67 earns a drive-through penalty for passing under the safety car. The #44 Eurasia Motorsport LMP2 car and and #98 GTE-Am Aston Martin were also granted penalties for the same transgression.

Hour 5:00: The #71 AF Corse Ferrari rolls into the garage with an issue. That car was already under investigation for a safety car infraction and was the slowest of the three AF Corse entries.

Hour 4:49: The Toyotas, for some reason, are going four-wide to pass lapped traffic off-track on the Mulsanne. That seems needlessly reckless.

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Hour 4:45: Back to green. No significant breaks among the leaders were made by that wave of safety cars.

Hour 4:34, Safety Car #2: The other car involved in the ByKolles incident is the #80 Ebimotors Porsche. The situation is now being reviewed by race control.

Hour 4:26, Safety Car #2: The #1 Rebellion is in the garage again. It has some sort of sensor issue, being slowly addressed under safety car when the team can.

Hour 4:17, Safety Car #2: Dominik Kraihamer is out of the #4 ByKolles car, but it is suitably destroyed. The car spun at full speed after trying to clear a GTE-Am entry on the outside. That GTE-Am Porsche has yet to be identified but did not seem to take any damage.

Hour 4:16, Safety Car #2: The #4 ByKolles car has had a very large off in the Porsche curves and is missing bodywork on all four corners. The safety car is out immediately and that seems to be race over for that LMP1 entry.

Hour 4:06: The #66 Ford GT suffer some sort of suspension failure, the first major issue for a GTE-Pro contender today. The issue showed up at the end of the previous lap, so it will now have to complete a full lap with what seems to be a fairly significant issue.

Hour 4:02: The #81 BMW is now in second in GTE-Pro, the leader of the de facto class of GTE-Pro cars not split by that safety car. That car is just over a minute ahead of the GTE-Pro field.

Hour 3:55: At some point in the past few minutes, the #1 Rebellion LMP1 entry was in the garage. It is already back on the circuit.

Hour 3:52: Back to green.

Hour 3:46, Safety Car #1: The #92 Porsche is indeed a full safety car ahead of the rest of the GTE-Pro field, a massive advantage of over a minute. Behind the second safety car is Ford #69, BMW #87, Ford #67, Ferrari #52, Porsche #94, then those cars who had stopped before the safety car came out: Porsche #91, Porsche #93, Ford #68, BMW #82, Ford #66, Corvette #63, and Ferrari #71. The GTE-Pro field is on the lead lap down to 13th, and, thanks to the sheer luck of safety car timing, all but one of those cars are behind the second safety car.

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In LMP1, the #8 Toyota is a full safety car ahead of the #7, while both have a full lap on both the #17 SMP Racing entry and both Rebellion entries.

The #26 G-Drive Racing sits alone with its safety car in LMP2, four hours into a dominant run. Just the #36 Signatech Alpine entry is within a safety car of its lead.

The #77 Dempsey Proton GTE-Am car is also behind its own safety car. The JMW Motorsports #84 Ferrari is the other car on the lead lap in that class, behind a safety car of its own.

Hour 3:36, Safety Car #1: The #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing has a puncture on the Mulsanne. It leaves a significant amount of debris on the racing line, so the marshalls bring out the safety car.

This will punish the #68 Ford significantly; Not only will it come out behind both the #91 and #93 Porsches, which stopped with it but had quicker stops due to not completing a driver change, but, due to the race's unique three pace car system, all three will likely be stuck a full pace car behind the #92 that had already stopped.

Hour 3:35: #91 Porsche stops, and #68 Ford passes the #92 to move into the lead in GTE-Pro. Those cars are about to stop, so how that class stands will be more clear when those stops cycle out.

Hour 3:31: The #68 Ford has caught the GTE-Pro leading Porsches The faster #92 moves past the #91, which it had been running in formation with throughout the day so far, in an effort to try to build its own lead on the Ford, but the #68 appears to be the fastest of the three at the moment.

Hour 3:21: The #7 and #8 Toyota have found each other on track for the first time in an hour or so. Alonso quickly caught Jose Maria Lopez, and the #8 is now back into the lead.

The lead for the #26 G-Drive entry is up to a minute in LMP2. That was expected to be one of the more competitive classes today.

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Hour 3:17: The #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse LMP2 car is in a wall in sector 1. A slow zone had been called, but it was removed just a few minutes later.

Hour 3:02: The issue with the #11 SMP Racing LMP1 entry is a sensor failure deep in the car, according to Jenson Button. That car has been in the garage for a good while, but its team entry runs third overall.

Hour 3:00: After being broken apart over the past few stints, the leading GTE-Pro Porsches are back to running together in lock step. They are just five seconds ahead of the top Ford, now the #68 of Sebastien Bourdais.

Hour 2:49: And now, an important update from the world feed director:

The Ford GT engineers that they keep cutting to are now eating dinner. They seem pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

Hour 2:34: Porsche and Ford currently has full control of the top six positions in GTE-Pro. The #91 and #92, the retro-liveried Porsches based in Europe, have held down the top two spots throughout the majority of the race to date.

Hour 2:29: Fernando Alonso enters the #8 Toyota. His first laps at Le Mans will be from the overall lead.

Hour 2:15: The slow zone from Mulsanne corner to Arnage has ended. Track is fully green.

Hour 2:05: The guardrails near Indianapolis are still undergoing repairs after the #86 incident, and that slow zone has been active for nearly thirty minutes. A strange thing for drivers, particularly since it comes right before the fastest and most rhythmic set of corners on the circuit.

Hour 1:36: The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche, once a leader in GTE-Am, spins at full speed in the corner leading into Indianapolis and finds itself lodged in the wall in the named corner. Moderate, repairable damage for that entry. Stewards call a slow zone from Mulsanne corner to Arnage, the first of the race.

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The #51 Spirit of Race (AF Corse) Ferrari leads that category, with Giancarlo Fisichella behind the wheel.

Hour 1:26: The gap from the Toyotas to the private LMP1 cars is now up to a minute and a half. Those cars are on pace to lose about a minute per hour, and the three safety car system here should preserve any chunk of lead larger than 1:15 or so.

Hour 1:14: The #31 LMP2 entry of Nathaniel Berthon has lost a wheel in Indianapolis. Somehow, this happens about three times a year at this race.

That car led in class earlier in the race. The #26 G-Drive car now leads that class.

Hour 1:10: Eurosport appears to be employing Tom Kristensen in the role of Kenny "The Jet" Smith on TNT's Inside the NBA. They have shown him re-playing the start for tenminutes and, by extent, have not shown live on-track action in exactly as much time. No word on whether or not there are light rains on a sunny day again.

The studio host is wearing a shirt with foxes on it. Not, like, side-views of foxes repeating in a small pattern. A very large-print pattern of foxes, face-on, making eye with the viewer.

Toyota still holds the top two spots overall.

Hour 0:55: The #6 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta (That's the Manor team, for those keeping score of irreverent name changes at home) has slowed on the course. That car was running sixth overall, last of the healthy LMP1 entrants.

Hour 00:54: The fastest entries from SMP Racing and Rebellion in LMP1 have both put in fastest laps about two and a half seconds behind the best work by the Toyotas.

Hour 00:52: The #85 Keating Motorsports GTE-Am Ferrari has a high speed off early in the Porsche curves, a perfect pirouette into the gravel. It rejoins with minimal damage.

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Hour 00:48: The #48 IDEC Sport LMP2 entry, polesitter in class and currently running fourth, is under investigation for a pit lane infraction. In a field that close, falling behind early would not be great, per se.

Hour 00:39: Stops have begun for GTE-Pro as we move past the mandatory-length opening stint. The class will also have a required stint length for the end of the race, for some reason.

In weather news, the track is no longer damp. The sun is still the same amount of out.

Hour 00:34: Significant bits of side-by-side action through Indianapolis and Arnage for both BMW M8s, one of the Fords, and one of the Corvettes for a position outside of the top ten in GTE-Pro. Every car in that class, save the debuting Aston Martins, is closer to the class leader than the leading LMP1 privateer is to the pair of Toyotas leading overall.

Hour 00:28: The track is damp and the sun is out. This has been the case for a solid 20 minutes, though, so maybe that's just how the French countryside works.

After a fiftieth of the race, the SMP racing cars are thirty seconds behind the Toyotas. At that pace, they'll finish between ten and fifteen laps behind. That gives those cars enough time for a minor issue each, a luxury the overall winner has often been afforded in past years, but not a major one.

Hour 00:16: The only Le Mans tradition more grand than the ACO-approved world feed spending ten minutes of every hour showing engineers in folding chairs watching a race that we can't watch because the director of that race is showing engineers in folding chairs may well be the GTE-Pro field not actually spreading out until around hour 4. This is again the case, with the top fifteen all within as many seconds of the leaders. The European-based Porsches, the #91 and #92 in the retro liveries, have a two second field on that gaggle of factory-backed cars.

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Hour 00:10: The Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 LMP2 entry is having some issues and is already in the garage. This has been a difficult first ten minutes in both Prototype classes.

The track has been declared wet as light rains roll in for the first time today. Light rains are likely to become the pattern of the race.

Or it could just start storming. Who knows?!

Hour 00:03: The #17 SMP Racing entry has slotted into third overall and in LMP1 after a lap, the beneficiary of the Rebellion team's woes. The #3 Rebellion still sits in fourth, and still within reach of the top three, but the #1 was the clear favorite among that team and the car most likely to have given the Toyotas a real fight.

Nathaniel Berthon has the DragonSpeed #31 in the front in LMP2, passing the polesitting #48 IDEC car on the first lap. The #91 and #92 Porsches are ahead in GTE-Pro, while GTE-Am is still in the control of the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche.

Hour 00:01: The race is green at exactly 3 PM local time. Unfortunately, the ByKolles LMP1 entry has already had an issue firing on the pace lap. Again.

The Toyotas are clear into the lead, despite an aggressive move to to the outside in turn 1 by a Rebellion. Three cars spin on the opening lap into the Dunlop Curves, and all but one of the Rebellion cars, the #1, emerge without damage. That #1 has already lost its front bodywork and will need to be repaired immediately, but should be able to continue. The #8 leads the Toyota set and the race overall.

Hour 0:00: This is an odd year at the world's greatest test of automotive endurance. With Porsche's recent exit, just Toyota is left as a factory entrant in LMP1, but the class has more significant privateer entries than it has at any other point in the FIA World Endurance Championship era. Fernando Alonso's #8 is the favored of the two Toyota entries, but just two simple issues could open the overall race to a private team with no factory affiliation for the first time in a very long time.

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In LMP2, the year is much more traditional. A tight, wide open field could go to almost anyone, and nearly every car has at least one driver that would not be out of place in an IndyCar on the entry list. The class is 15-deep, and every entry should have a real shot to win the race in-class; If the relatively untested field of LMP1 privateers fail, they will have the chance to win the race overall.

GTE, still split here into GTE-Pro and GTE-Am as it has been throughout the FIA WEC era, makes up exactly half of the grid, but debuts for Aston Martin and BMW may have some issues keeping up with better-tested cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette, and Ford. It is the Porsches, decked out in tribute liveries and unburdened by the company's focus on LMP1 of previous years, that have led throughout the weekend. Whether or not that continues through the race is about to be decided.

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