The Toyota Gazoo Racing squad has positioned both its Hypercars at the top of the field after an incident-filled first six hours at Le Mans.

At 10:00pm local time, the leading #7 Toyota GR010 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez held nearly a 1m24s advantage over the sister car of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley.

A lap down on the two Japanese chargers sat the Alpine A480-Gibson of André Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Mathieu Vaxivière, while the #708 Glickenhaus of Luis Felipe Derani, Franck Mailleux and Olivier Pla was two laps adrift from the leaders.

Earlier in the day, the race had kicked off behind the Safety Car on a track inundated by a heavy rain shower, but when the field was unleashed after two laps there was drama as soon as the first corner when Pla’s Glickenhaus rammed the #8 Toyota of Buemi as the Dunlop chicane.


Pla – who was hit with 10-second penalty – got away with minor damage, but Buemi was forced to stop at the side of the road to reset his car, which set back the Swiss driver by an additional 1.30s.

Behind leader Conway, Lapierre’s Alpine slotted into second before the Frenchman spun on the approach to Indianapolis and lost a minute.

Overall, it was messy first hour, with many drivers caught out by the difficult conditions and forcing their team into early damage repairs.

But gradually, the field stabilized, with Conway maintaining a healthy lead. After four hours, a hard hit by the #98 Aston Martin of Marco Gomes triggered the race’s first retirement and first safety car.

The battle in the LMP2 class also offered its fair share of drama, with the #38 JOTA Oreca-Gibson which had led the early proceedings spinning into the gravel trap at the Dunlop chicane shortly after Anthony Davidson had taken over from Antonio Felix da Costa.

Permutations at the top of the class eventually left the #41 Team WRT Oreca-Gibson of Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Yifei Ye in charge of LMP2 after six hours, and sitting fourth overall.

As everyone headed into the night, the fight at the top of the GTE Pro pyramid opposed the #63 Corvette of Nicky Catsburg and the Ferrari 488 GTE Eco of James Calado.

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