Photo: Erik Junius
Kamui Kobayashi broke a nearly 30-year old track record in putting the #7 Toyota Racing TS050 on the pole. The #8 sister car started P2. Darren Turner put the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage on GTE Pro pole.
The #1 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid (Neel Jani) took the initial lead, with the #8 Toyota (Sebastian Buemi) next assuming the point and the #7 (Mike Conway) returning to the front in the second hour. Four hours into the race the #7 still led overall, with the #13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07-Gibson on top of LMP2, the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK leading GTE Pro and the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 topping GTE Am.
Billy Johnson (#66) pitted from the class lead a few minutes later. Matthias Lauda (#98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage) passed Dries Vanthoor (#84) on track to take the GTE Am lead. The #1 Porsche reported a large vibration at with 19:47 remaining. At 19:26 Kobayashi (#7) led Nick Tandy (#1) by 47.047 sec and Anthony Davidson (#8) by 1:04.239.
With 19 hours to go the #28 LMP2 competitor took the #82 Risi Competitzione Ferrari 488 GTE (Pierre Kaffer) out of the race. At 18:48 the Vaillante Rebellions ran 1-2 in LMP2, Julien Canal (#31) ahead of teammate David Heinemeier-Hansson (#13) by 1.162 sec.
The #7 Toyota (Stephane Sarrazin) held a 26-sec lead over the #1 Porsche (Andre Lotterer) six hours into the race. Kazuki Nakajima (#8 Toyota) was just 4 sec further back in third. Vaillante Rebellion continued to run 1-2 in LMP2, with the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 65 sec behind in third.
The pole sitting #97 Aston Martin led GTE Pro, holding 1 min on the two Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK competitors. Aston Martin Racing also topped GTE Am, the #98 still running at the front of the field.
The #7 still led overall almost two hours later when its clutch failed. Kobayashi tried to nurse it back to pitlane it eventually retired on track. The #1 Porsche took over the race lead. Fifteen minutes later an LMP2 competitor hit the #9 Toyota, putting it out of competition as well. The #31 Vaillante Rebellion led LMP2 and ran second overall. The #38 ran second and the #13 third.
Aston Martin Racing ran 1-2 in GTE Pro, the #95 in front of the #97. The #91 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR had worked its way up to third in class. The #98 Aston, however, lost its lead in GTE Am, falling four laps back after a punctured tire and damaged bodywork.