An important feature at the top of the hour was an intense battle for second place in GTE Pro—haven’t we heard this before? Yes, this position has been perhaps the most hotly contested all day. This time it was between two AF Corse Ferraris, Giancarlo Fisichella in No. 51 and Toni Vilander in No. 71. They ran in this order for a short time until Vilander got past.
He was promoted to first in class with the No. 99 Aston stopped and Makowiecki took the car over again. Further back in the class, Gavin completed a good stint, keeping the No. 97 in fourth. The No. 92 Porsche has been doing reasonably well despite chewing through tires at a surprisingly fast clip. The sister No. 91 car did continue after cleaning up the fire damage. It was a different story at Aston Martin where the throttle could not be repaired on the No. 97 Vantage.
Again the No. 1 Audi began the stop sequence, with Treluyer later suffering a spin at the late lap Turn 20, which seems to be a site of some slippery detritus. Unlike Brazil, this race has been and event featuring an Audi-Toyota contest right to the end. It is a matter of speed versus pit time. The Totyota strategy seems to be focused on extra stints for the tires, with the hope that the time saved at the stops will offset the faster pace of the No. 2 Audi. It is a daunting challenge as Duval was flying away in the lead.
The Oak vs. Oak contretemps has altered LM P2. Rusinov consolidated a lead with the No. 26 G-Drive Oreca that is consistent if not iron clad. The damage to the No. 35 Oak Morgan was more significant than first thought. The less damaged No. 24, now with Olivier Pla playing driver, recovered to third on class behind the now steady Pecom entry. Pla nearly lost the spot with a spin at Turn 1 and this put him under pressure from Tor Graves in the No. 25 Delta-ADR Oreca.
Three cars circulated on the GTE Am lead lap, two Astons and the IMSA Porsche. The latter 997 has had an up-and-down race with some spins while erstwhile leader, the No. 95 Vantage of Thiim, has fought back to challenge the class leading No. 96 of Jamie Campbell-Walter.