At the head of the field, it’s a Porsche 1-2, after Toyota Gazoo Racing’s #7 TS050 led the way in the opening hour. The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Nick Tandy, which was third at the start, is now leading the race after shuffling through the first three pit cycles.
Second, just just 3.3 seconds behind is the #2 sister car of Earl Bamber, the #7 Toyota now relegated to third.
The Toyota lost the lead after Jose Maria Lopez took the wheel at the first round of stops. The Argentinian was unable to keep pace with Brendon Hartley (#2) and Neel Jani (#1) who were right behind. Hartley’s move for the lead was at Turn 1 with four hours and 42 minutes to go, before Jani followed the Kiwi through.
After that the Porsches then swapped positions after the third stops.
In LMP2 the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA holds first place, and by a margin of over a minute. The Rebellion ORECAs which ran 1-2 in the first hour are now fourth and fifth after intense battling, as Oliver Jarvis and Ho Pin Tung in the #38 fought to the front.
The battle for second was frantic, with the sister #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA eventually prevailing after Tristan Gommendy got past Julien Canal in the #31 Rebellion Oreca to take second. Third was then taken off Canal by Gustavo Menezes in the #36 Signatech Alpine at the end of the hour.
The #13 Rebellion ORECA is fifth, with the TDS Racing ORECA up to sixth.
GTE Pro continued to be a rollercoaster through hours 2 and 3, with the #92 Porsche of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre regaining the lead through the pit stop cycles.
Second, after a great fight the field is the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, Alessandro Pier Guidi taking the place at the Valvoline-Kurve up the inside off the #91 Porsche of Richard Lietz. Britain James Calado is in the lead Ferrari now, and is reeling in Christensen, just 1.5 seconds back as the second half of the race began.
Fourth, and behind the #91 Porsche of Fred Makowiecki is the #95 Aston Martin, which led most of the first hour, but slipped back after a driver change in Hour 2, Nicki Thiim getting out and Marco Sorensen getting in. The #66 Ford of Olivier Pla, which is struggling with understeer due to pickup on the circuit, completes the top five.
In GTE Am, the #98 Aston Martin, which led from the start, built up a lead of over 30 seconds, but the end of the third hour, the gap was closed, and a three-way battle for the lead ensued between Mathias Lauda, Matteo Cairoli in the #77 Dempsey Porsche and Miguel Molina in the Spirit of Race Ferrari.
Lauda lost the lead as the hour ticked over, with Caroli making a move at the final chicane on the Austrian, to give the Dempsey Proton Porsche its first lead of the race.
Further back the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari sits fourth, after a costly moment at the Valvoline-Kurve in which Weng Sun Mok went wide and off the circuit, into the gravel trap down the hill. Thankfully the car wasn’t damaged, but it did lose time, and it’s now two minutes off the lead.