Toyota GAZOO Racing establishes the overall lead at Round 7 of the FIA World Endurance Championship after six-hours into the 24-hour race.
The first few laps were smooth for the field overall, as the hyper-pole sitting #7 car was immediately challenged by the #1 Rebellion of Bruno Senna, a hint of deja vu back to last year’s start of the 6 Hours of Fuji.
Both LMP2 IDEC Sport cars pitted on the formation lap, waiting an extra lap until they were permitted to race after their woes during FP2.
The reigning Le Mans winners, also looking for a hat-trick, the #36 Signatech Alpine Elf had their winning intentions diminished as they suffered high water pressure issues. It pitted after the first lap.
Further LMP2 woes littered the category during the first few laps as the #29 Racing Team Nederland suffered similar issues to Alpine, who qualified third in Hyperpole.
The #35 Eurasia Motorsport had a few offs into the gravel traps in the hands of Le Mans rookie Nobaya Yamanaka.
The first race retirement was when the #11 Eurointernational pulled over at the first S-complex after the Dunlop hill.
A number of heated battles consistently ran throughout the 6 hours so far, such as the AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing duos.
Eventually, Ferrari made their way to sit 1-2 in that Pro category.
The #8 of Sebastien Buemi suffered a puncture which set a recurring imbalance of pit-strategy against its sister car, also suffering a recurring brake-duct cooling issue later on.
The #39 LMP2 made a climb up the field after its poor qualifying and was fighting for the lead between G Drive Racing and the #22 United Autosports.
Into the fifth hour, Serra ended up passing Harry Tincknell in a heated battle between their #51 AF Corse and #97 AMR.
Porsche, after qualifying well, faced further bad luck as they dropped down the field after repairing what appeared to be a power-steering issue on the #92.
Heading into the sixth hour, the #55 Spirit of Race GTE-Am faced a number of difficulties. Firstly, a spin at turn one which assumed contact with a fellow LMP2 having claimed front and rear left punctures.
Making its way back around the circuit to the pits, the car spent its time in the garage as the rear-wheel arches’ bodywork damage was revealed.
The race began its transition towards darkness at approaching the five-hour and 50 minute mark, in which the #52 AF Corse had a rearwards scrap against the barriers at the Porsche Curves.
Its efforts to continue were in doubt with severe damage to the front left wheel-arches, eventually retiring into the seventh hour.
Alexander West, who was at the wheel, was on his in-lap to box the car.
This let out the first Safety Car period of the race.
|1||#7 Toyota GAZOO Racing||LMP1|
|2||#8 Toyota GAZOO Racing||LMP1|
|3||#1 Rebellion Racing||LMP1|
|4||#3 Rebellion Racing||LMP1|
|5||#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing||LMP2|
|6||#26 G-Drive Racing||LMP2|
|7||#32 United Autosports||LMP2|
|9||#31 Panis Racing||LMP2|
|10||#30 Duqueine Team||LMP2|
|11||#22 United Autosports||LMP2|
|12||#39 SO24-HAS By Graff||LMP2|
|13||#21 Dragonspeed USA||LMP2|
|14||#50 Richard Mille Racing Team||LMP2|
|15||#47 Cetilar Racing||LMP2|
|16||#27 Dragonspeed USA||LMP2|
|17||#25 Algrave Pro Racing||LMP2|
|18||#36 Signatech Alpine Elf||LMP2|
|19||#28 IDEC Sport||LMP2|
|20||#16 G-Drive Racing By Algarve||LMP2|
|21||#34 Inter Europol Competition||LMP2|
|22||#42 COOL Racing||LMP2|
|23||#17 IDEC Sport||LMP2|
|24||#29 Racing Team Nederland||LMP2|
|25||#4 ByKolles Racing||LMP1|
|26||#51 AF Corse||LM-GTE Pro|
|27||#71 AF Corse||LM-GTE Pro|
|28||#97 Aston Martin Racing||LM-GTE Pro|
|29||#95 Aston Martin Racing||LM-GTE Pro|
|30||#24 Nielsen Racing||LMP2|
|31||#63 WeatherTech Racing||LM-GTE Pro|
|32||#91 Porsche GT Team||LM-GTE Pro|
|33||#82 Risi Competizione||LM-GTE Pro|
|34||#98 Aston Martin Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|35||#75 Iron Lynx||LM-GTE Am|
|36||#90 TF Sport||LM-GTE Am|
|37||#83 AF Corse||LM-GTE Am|
|38||#61 Luzich Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|39||#35 Eurasia Motorsport||LMP2|
|40||#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|41||#56 Team Project 1||LM-GTE Am|
|42||#72 Hub Auto Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|43||#78 Proton Competition||LM-GTE Am|
|44||#66 JMW Motorsport||LM-GTE Am|
|45||#86 Gulf Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|46||#99 Dempsey-Proton Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|47||#60 Iron Lynx||LM-GTE Am|
|48||#85 Iron Lynx||LM-GTE Am|
|49||#62 Red River Sport||LM-GTE Am|
|50||#89 Team Project 1||LM-GTE Am|
|51||#54 AF Corse||LM-GTE Am|
|52||#57 Team Project 1||LM-GTE Am|
|53||#52 AF Corse||LM-GTE Am|
|54||#70 MR Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|55||#33 High Class Racing||LMP2|
|56||#92 Porsche GT Team||LM-GTE Pro|
|57||#55 Spirit of Race||LM-GTE Am|
|58||#88 Dempsey-Proton Racing||LM-GTE Am|
|(RETIRED) 59||#11 Eurointernational||LMP2|