The #19 Porsche driven by Nick Tandy is firmly in control of the Le Mans 24 Hours with a quarter of the race remaining.
Tandy took over the leading 919 Hybrid when Nico Hulkenberg brought it into the pits for refuelling under the safety car, which had been deployed because of a big accident for the #96 GTE Am Aston Martin of Roald Goethe at the exit of the Porsche Curves.
Porsche rolled the car into the garage for some minor bodywork repairs during this stop, but it did not cost any time because Tandy would have had to queue at the pit exit to wait for the next safety car anyway.
The Porsche had been in the same group as the second-placed #9 Audi of Rene Rast and the #17 Porsche of Mark Webber, so dropped into the next safety-car pack when it re-emerged.
As a result, the lead of a little over two minutes that Hulkenberg had before the safety car period was preserved.
Webber passed Rast for second shortly after the restart and started to pull away from the Audi as Porsche established itself in first and second positions.
Following a stop for fuel late in the hour, Tandy has a lead of approach two-and-a-half minutes over Webber.
The #7 Audi, delayed this morning by shedding some bodywork in the Porsche Curves, runs fourth ahead of the sister machine driven by Oliver Jarvis.
The third Porsche of Neel Jani is still running after losing time to a couple of off-track excursions earlier in the race, running two laps down.
As they have throughout the race, the two Toyotas have not been able to get close to the Audis or Porsches on pace.
They run seventh and eighth, with Alex Wurz and Sebastien Buemi at the wheel.
KCMG maintains a one-lap lead in LMP2, with Richard Bradley behind the wheel.
Another hour in the class ticked by without drama, barring a spin for Krohn Racing, as Bradley added to the team’s advantage over Julien Canal in the G-Drive (OAK) Ligier.
At the same time, Oliver Turvey has been chipping away at Jota Sport’s deficit to Canal, reducing the gap from 3m30s to an even three minutes during the hour.
Murphy Prototypes remains fourth with Mark Patterson, ahead of Pipo Derani in the second G-Drive entry and OAK Racing’s Honda-powered Ligier, driven by Christopher Cumming.
Toni Vilander in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari holds a seven-second lead in GTE Pro over Oliver Gavin’s #64 Corvette.
Gavin led before the safety car period late in hour 17, and both entries took the opportunity to pit while the field was slowed early in the 18th.
However, Vilander pitted a lap before Gavin, enough to gain a spot further up the queue in their safety car group, and he set about building a lead, while Jorg Bergmeister is third in the best of the Porsches, two minutes adrift.
The #98 Aston is continuing its march towards GTE Am honours, with Paul Dalla Lana three minutes ahead of Victor Shaitar in the SMP Racing Ferrari.
POSITIONS AFTER 18 HOURS
|1||LMP1||#19 Porsche||Hulkenberg, Bamber, Tandy||291|
|2||LMP1||#17 Porsche||Bernhard, Webber, Hartley||290||+ 1 Lap|
|3||LMP1||#9 Audi||Albuquerque, Bonanomi, Rast||290||+ 48.338s|
|4||LMP1||#7 Audi||Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer||289||+ 2 Laps|
|5||LMP1||#8 Audi||Di Grassi, Duval, Jarvis||288||+ 3 Laps|
|6||LMP1||#18 Porsche||Dumas, Jani, Lieb||287||+ 4 Laps|
|7||LMP1||#2 Toyota||Wurz, Sarrazin, Conway||284||+ 7 Laps|
|8||LMP1||#1 Toyota||Davidson, Buemi, Nakajima||282||+ 9 Laps|
|9||LMP2||#47 Oreca||Howson, Bradley, Lapierre||264||+ 27 Laps|
|10||LMP2||#26 Ligier||Rusinov, Canal, Bird||263||+ 28 Laps|
|11||LMP2||#38 Gibson||Dolan, Evans, Turvey||262||+ 29 Laps|
|12||LMP2||#48 Oreca||Chandhok, Patterson, Berthon||261||+ 30 Laps|
|13||LMP2||#28 Ligier||Yacaman, Derani, Gonzalez||261||+ 1m07.778s|
|14||LMP2||#34 Ligier||Cumming, Vanthoor, Estre||260||+ 31 Laps|
|15||LMP2||#42 Dome||Leventis, Watts, Kane||258||+ 33 Laps|
|16||LMP1||#13 Rebellion||Imperatori, Kraihamer, Abt||250||+ 41 Laps|
|17||LMP2||#27 BR||Mediani, Markozov, Minassian||250||+ 1m04.152s|
|18||LMP2||#31 Ligier||Brown, Van Overbeek, Fogarty||249||+ 42 Laps|
|19||LMP2||#45 Oreca||Ibanez, Perret, Bellarosa||249||+ 1m25.612s|
|20||GTE Pro||#51 Ferrari||Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella||248||+ 43 Laps|
|21||GTE Pro||#64 Chevrolet||Gavin, Milner, Taylor||248||+ 8.103s|
|22||GTE Pro||#91 Porsche||Lietz, Christensen, Bergmeister||247||+ 44 Laps|
|23||GTE Am||#98 Aston||Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda||246||+ 45 Laps|
|24||LMP2||#35 Ligier||Nicolet, Merlin, Maris||246||+ 1m54.854s|
|25||GTE Pro||#71 Ferrari||Rigon, Calado, Beretta||246||+ 2m56.376s|
|26||GTE Am||#72 Ferrari||Shaytar, Bertolini, Basov||245||+ 46 Laps|
|27||GTE Pro||#95 Aston||Sorensen, Thiim, Nygaard||245||+ 12.451s|
|28||GTE Am||#62 Ferrari||Sweedler, Bell, Segal||244||+ 47 Laps|
|29||GTE Am||#77 Porsche||Dempsey, Long, Seefried||243||+ 48 Laps|
|30||GTE Am||#53 Dodge||Bleekemolen, Keating, Miller||243||+ 1m55.063s|
|31||LMP2||#29 Morgan||Roussel, Tung, Cheng||242||+ 49 Laps|
|32||GTE Am||#83 Ferrari||Perrodo, Collard, Aguas||242||+ 2m22.689s|
|33||GTE Am||#55 Ferrari||Cameron, Griffin, Mortimer||241||+ 50 Laps|
|34||LMP1||#12 Rebellion||Prost, Heidfeld, Beche||240||+ 51 Laps|
|35||LMP2||#30 Ligier||Sharp, Dalziel, Heinemeier Hansson||239||+ 52 Laps|
|36||GTE Am||#61 Ferrari||Mann, Giammaria, Cressoni||239||+ 4m37.940s|
|37||LMP2||#40 Ligier||Krohn, Jonsson, Barbosa||235||+ 56 Laps|
|38||GTE Am||#68 Porsche||Chen, Vannelet, Parisy||235||+ 2.684s|
|39||GTE Am||#66 Ferrari||Al Faisal, Giermaziak, Avenatti||233||+ 58 Laps|
|40||GTE Am||#67 Porsche||Chen, Kapadia, Maassen||233||+ 1m44.079s|
|41||LMP2||#37 BR||Aleshin, Ladygin, Ladygin||232||+ 59 Laps|
|42||GTE Pro||#99 Aston||Rees, Macdowall, Stanaway||231||+ 60 Laps|
|43||LMP1||#4 CLM||Trummer, Kaffer, Monteiro||199||+ 92 Laps|
|44||LMP1||#23 Nissan||Pla, Mardenborough, Chilton||193||+ 98 Laps|
|45||LMP1||#22 Nissan||Tincknell, Krumm, Buncombe||192||+ 99 Laps|
|46||GTE Am||#96 Aston||Goethe, Hall, Castellacci||187||+ 104 Laps|
|47||LMP2||#46 Oreca||Thiriet, Badey, Gommendy||204||Retired|
|48||LMP2||#43 Morgan||Ragues, Webb, Amberg||162||Retired|
|49||LMP1||#21 Nissan||Matsuda, Shulzhitskiy, Ordonez||115||Retired|
|50||LMP2||#36 Alpine||Panciatici, Chatin, Capillaire||110||Retired|
|51||GTE Pro||#97 Aston||Turner, Mucke, Bell||110||Retired|
|52||GTE Am||#50 Chevrolet||Roda, Ruberti, Poulsen||94||Retired|
|53||LMP2||#41 Gibson||Hirsch, Paletou, Lancaster||71||Retired|
|54||GTE Am||#88 Porsche||Ried, Al Qubaisi, Bachler||44||Retired|
|55||GTE Pro||#92 Porsche||Pilet, Makowiecki, Henzler||14||Retired|