Neel Jani’s Porsche has gradually built a 12-lap lead. The majority of chasers are LMP2s, so Porsche’s fate is well and truly in their own hands. Toyota are out of the running.
The sun peaks its head out for the start of a new day, and finds Porsche still firmly in control of this race. A one-two might be on the cards, with Neel Jani’s leading car streaking away at the head of the field. The real drama is further back, with Oreca 07 and two Vaillante Rebellions locked in a three-way tussle that is only briefly threatened by a mechanical fault in the Vaillante 31. With a new nose in place, the Vaillante resumes the racing.
Porsche are threatening to run away with this. Neel Jani has taken over the leading Porsche, which continues to stretch its lead. Timo Bernhard has brought the sister Porsche up to 10th.
There’s plenty of drama further back in the field as the darkness really sets in, with Aston Martin 97 and Ferrari 51 facing off in a battle that lasts for several laps. André Lotterer continues to lead, while Porsche’s next best has climbed up to 13th.
Porsche continue to build their lead as Nick Tandy is replaced behind the wheel by André Lotterer.
The Toyota-based drama has subsided and it’s Nick Tandy’s Porsche who leads by a comfortable distance. Toyota’s only remaining runner is way back – 29 laps behind the leader.
It’s not to be for Toyota. Less than an hour after Kamui Kobayashi was forced to withdraw, the same fate befalls Nicolas Lapierre in Toyota 9. A collision forces the Toyota into the gravel and extensive damage prevents the car making it back to the pits.
Disaster for Toyota as the leading car struggles after a lengthy spell behind a safety car. Heavy gravel on the track, caused by a wayward Ford, has forced the race organisers to intervene, and that has hit Toyata 7 hard. Twice Kamui Kobayashi is forced to stop, before finally stepping out of the car. Porsche 1 and Toyota 9 are now the contenders for the win, with the former two laps ahead.
We are now into Sunday in France and Mike Conway leads by over a minute for the Toyota 7. That is the biggest gap since the race started at 3pm (BST) on Saturday afternoon. Neel Jani is second for Porsche. Still a long way to go with just over a third of the race gone. 15 hours to go. Strap yourself in folks.
Mike Conway heads up the field for Toyota, but Neel Jani is second for Porsche. The gap is 34 seconds. The Toyota number 8 car is effectively gone after the brakes threatened to catch fire. Disaster for Buemi, whose teams are now nine laps behind the lead car as the mechanics try to solve this problem.
Really starting to get dark now, but no signs of fatigue from those hardy drivers. Sarrazin remains in the box seat for Toyota, but Nakajima is within 16 seconds of the pace. Lotterer 25 seconds off top spot in his Porsche. All hotting up in the dark.
Kazuki Nakajima has joined the party. He is up to second spot to make it a Toyota one-two, and is only 18.5 seconds adrift of Sarrazin in the lead Toyota. Dusk is beginning to set across Le Mans, and it is all heating up as we approach a quarter of the race gone.
Stephane Sarrazin in the car for Toyota with Tandy nursing his Porsche into the pits. A lead of 36.5 seconds for the Toyota over Andre Lotterer who has taken over control of the Porsche. Lotterer initially threatened to eat away at the Toyota lead, but it has gone back to around 39 seconds.
A lead of around 37 seconds for Kobayashi in the Toyota with Nick Tandy second in the Porsche. All stops among the leading LMP1 cars, but Kobayashi, Tandy and Davidson remain in their cars. Porsche, chasing their third win in a row, held third and fourth places with their number one car 35 seconds off the pace in a largely incident-free opening period.
Only one Japanese manufacturer has ever won Le Mans, Mazda in 1991 with a rotary-engined car, but Toyota – after 18 failed attempts – have set the pace this year. They have won the first two rounds of the world endurance championship and lined up for Le Mans on the back of a record qualifying lap.
Kamui Kobayashi continues to lead the way in LM P1 in the Toyota with Anthony Davidson around 30 seconds behind in the sister car. Davidson yet to prove he can get up to the speed of Kobayashi, who has taken his qualifying form into the main race.
The man from Japan clearly showing his F1 prowess in the 85th staging of this race. Nick Tandy is 35 seconds adrift of the leader in third place for Porsche.
The battle between the two Toyotas of Buemi and Conway continued to dominate events at the front, with Conway extending his lead over his colleague. Buemi was in second though and extending his lead over Jani. For more analysis on the battle between the two Toyotas, we turn to The Coach, Tom Kristensen:
There was a very unfortunate moment for Proton Porsche as they lost #88 when Khaled Al Qubaisi was shunted into a wall.
The second retirement of the race saw Oliver Webb bow out, following his crash in the update below.
Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota proceeded smoothly at the front of the pack but team-mate Sebastian Buemi lost position to Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche.
In the LMP2 class there was some surprise with a raft of early pit stops, but Bruno Senna was in control in the #31 Oreca, ahead of another former Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov, in the #25 Oreca. Early on, Oliver Webb had a nightmare start in the ByKolles though…
Gustavo Menezes, driving the Alpine A470 Gibson, went off early on.