Big lead for #1 Porsche as 24H Le Mans hits halfway
Porsche LMP1 driver Nick Tandy held a nine lap lead at the halfway stage of the Le Mans 24 Hours following a series of issues for the leading Toyota runners.
All three Toyota TS050s encountered trouble during the opening 12 hours, with the No. 7 and No. 9 retiring within minutes of each other either side of the 11-hour mark.
The Japanese manufacturer's No. 8 car had previously lost 30 laps with a front-end hybrid issue, and continued into the second half of the contest in 45th place overall.
Following a safety car period during hour 10 to recover gravel spewed up by a spinning Ford GT, Kamui Kobayashi parked the No. 7 TS050 citing clutch issues.
The #9 car, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, then made contact with the #25 Manor LMP2 - which was fighting for a class podium - before stopping on track just before the Ford chicane.
So far, the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Tandy, Andre Lotterer and 2016 race winner Neel Jani is the only front-runner to have escaped major incident.
The #2 Porsche fell nine laps adrift when the team encountered a similar issue to the No. 8 Toyota during the first six hours.
After an hour-long recovery, the team returned to the track but Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard have a long way to go before they clear the LMP2 field.
Second overall is the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07-Gibson, which has shared the secondary prototype class lead with the sister #13 Rebellion since the early stages.
At the close of 12 hours, Nicolas Prost held a lead of --- back to David Heinemeier Hansson.
Third in LMP2 and fourth overall is the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 that early on through Oliver Jarvis, but dropped back when Thomas Laurent spun and surrendered the lead.
Rounding out the top five was the #36 Signatech Alpine entry.
In GTE-Pro, Aston Martin continued to lead at halfway, with the two Vantages back together again following a solid recovery drive from the #95 crew of Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Richie Stanaway.
Sorensen was leading during the fourth hour when he picked up a puncture, meaning the crew had to fight back from last place.
At the top of the 12th hour, the two Astons were separated by three seconds, with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR a further 48 seconds adrift.
GTE-Am was headed by the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 of Will Stevens, Dries Vanthoor and Rob Smith after the #98 Aston Martin pitted from the lead with heavy damage caused by a right-front tyre blowout.