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LIVE COMMENTARY: LE MANS 24 HOURS 2015 - THE 83RD LE MANS 24 HOURS
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: The 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours
By Edd Straw, Glenn Freeman, Gary Watkins, Scott Mitchell , AUTOSPORT staff and Mitchell Adam
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Sat 12:00 Bonjour, hello and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live's coverage of the 83rd edition of the Le Mans 24 hours!

Sat 12:03 WARM-UP

We've already had the Le Mans field in action today, in the morning warm-up session.

Audi’s three cars topped the 45 minutes of running, which started at 0900 today.

Filipe Albuquerque was fastest with a lap of 3m19.423s, four tenths faster than any of the R18 e-tron quattros managed in qualifying.

Audi 1-2-3 in morning warm-up

Audi, 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours

Sat 12:06 SUPPORT RACES

On the subject of pre-race action...

Just a day after Ford confirmed its return to Le Mans, one of the GT40s it entered into the 1968 edition of the 24-hour race won the supporting Le Mans Legend mini-enduro (pictured).

Bernard Thuner and Claude Nahem’s machine was dominant while another GT40 in the hands of Andrew Smith and James Cottingham claimed second despite an opening lap spin. A Ford podium lock-out was denied when the Diogo Ferrao/Martin Stretton car retired with mechanical troubles.

Stuart Hall’s attempts to fight through the Aston Martin Festival field in the marque's Lola LMP1 car after a half-lap handicap were thwarted when the race was red-flagged early.

Chris Brown crashed his GT4 machine heavily on the approach to Tertre Rouge and damaged the barriers, cutting the race short. Tom Onslow-Cole and Paul White won after their tactic of pitting a lap later proved crucial as they avoided being held in the pitlane.

Le Mans legends start

Sat 12:09 THE STORY OF QUALIFYING

Porsche wasted no time in asserting its dominance in qualifying, with Jani (#18), Bernhard (#17) and Tandy (#19) locking out the top three positions in the first minutes of Wednesday night’s opening session.

Although Tandy improved in Thursday's first session, there was never a threat to Porsche’s dominance.

Then came the three Audis, with Duval sealing fourth on Wednesday for the #8 car, Lotterer jumping to fifth on Thursday in the #7 and Albuquerque qualifying sixth in the #9 machine.

As for Toyota, it was, relatively speaking, nowhere with its cars seventh and eighth ahead of the two Rebellions, with Beche getting the #12 entry to just 3.1s off the slowest Toyota.

Our full report has all the details, including the polesitters for LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am.

#19 Porsche 919, Le Mans 2015

Sat 12:11 NISSAN PENALISED FOR PACE

The three Nissan LMP1s will start from the back of the Le Mans 24 Hour prototype field after failing to meet the 110 per cent qualifying minimum.

The starting grid, including a penalty for the #71 Ferrari in GTE Pro, is available in our story here.

Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, Le Mans 2015

Sat 12:15 FORD'S BACK:

As mentioned earlier, we'll have a new manufacturer entry in GTE next season – with Chip Ganassi Racing running the factory campaigns in the WEC (including Le Mans) and United SportsCar Championship:

Ford confirms Le Mans return...

...and ex-DTM racer Joey Hand is set to be one of the drivers

Ford GT announcement

Sat 12:15 THE LE MANS ATMOSPHERE:

Nobody can accuse France of underselling the Le Mans 24 Hours build-up.

We've got national anthems, a band, a very busy grid and an enthusiastic trackside commentator (whose French exclamations mid-sessions often have us English speakers craning our necks furiously to the TV screens to find out what's happened).

What more could you want?



Sat 12:17 A STARK CONTRAST:

The paddock is about as empty as it has been all week... Although with the grid now starting to empty, that will change any moment.



Sat 12:20 MAXIMUM STATTACK:

There are 44 Le Mans 24 Hours debutants contesting this year’s race. The best-placed on the grid are Nico Hulkenberg and Earl Bamber in the #19 Porsche that starts third.

In GTE Pro, rookie Richie Stanaway put the #99 Aston Martin on class pole, while Mathias Lauda is in the #98 Aston that starts first in GTE Am.

Hulkenberg

Sat 12:24 The cars set off from the grid for reconnaissance laps, with just over half an hour until the race start.

Sat 12:25 WHAT WE'VE LEARNED SO FAR:

Yesterday AUTOSPORT's team of reporters sat down and tried to condense all we've learned so far this week into 10 things.

It's always handy to take stock of the themes emerging over the course of the week, and now's as good a time as any for you to have a quick peruse.

This is what we came up with:

Porsche's pace, Nissan's promises and the speed of LMP1s

Jani, Porsche, Le Mans

Sat 12:27 MAXIMUM STATTACK

Last year’s winners:

LMP1 - Fassler/Treluyer/Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro)
LMP2 - Tincknell/Turvey/Dolan (Zytek-Nissan Z11SN)
GTE Pro - Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella (Ferrari 458 Italia)
GTE Am - Poulsen/Heinemeier Hansson/Thim (Aston Martin Vantage GTE)

Le Mans 2014

Sat 12:33 As the cars cycle through pitlane on their way back to the grid, Jean Todt is among a group of dignitaries walking down the front straight. Jean is waving enthusiastically to the crowd they're waving back.

Of course, the FIA president has fond memories of Le Mans from his time as the chief of Peugeot Sport. The French manufacturer won this race in 1992 and 1993, before Todt joined Ferrari and rewrote several Formula 1 record books in conjunction with M. Schumacher, R. Brawn and friends.



Sat 12:34 Hmm. A message has just appeared on our screens (briefly) suggesting the #2 Toyota has sped in the pits. That's an odd thing to achieve before the race has even started!

Sat 12:35 MAXIMUM STATTACK:

There are only seven drivers starting this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours who have previously won it. The Fassler/Treluyer/Lotterer trio that race the #7 Audi have won it three times, Alex Wurz has two victories, while Porsche drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas have tasted victory once (in 2010, pictured).

On top of the seven outright winners, there are another 29 who have got class victories under their belt. They are:

Dolan, Tincknell, Turvey, Dalziel, Leventis, Watts, Kane, Collard, Bleekemolen, Kaffer, Lieb, Canal, Gonzalez, Heinemeir Hansson, Bruni, Fisichella, Vilander, Gavin, Milner, Beretta, Bergmeister, Lietz, Henzler, Thiim, Turner, Poulsen, Long, Collard, Lamy



Sat 12:38 GTE AM STARTERS

Right, for those who are unaware - here's how we'll be bringing you live updates for each class.

We've got a dedicated correspondent for each of the categories: LMP1, LMP2 and GTE.

Each category has a dedicated icon – for example, the black GT car accompanying this post tells you the update is concerning GTE Am.

Here is the order the Am cars line up (with the lead entries scattered among the Pros) are the starting drivers in this category

Starting drivers GTE Am:

#98 Aston Martin - Lamy
#83 Ferrari - Collard
#72 Ferrari - Bertolini
#53 Viper - Bleekemolen
#77 Porsche - Long
#88 Porsche - Bachler
#55 Ferrari - Griffin
#61 Ferrari - Giammaria
#62 Ferrari - Segal
#50 Corvette - Ruberti
#66 Ferrari - Giermaziak
#96 Aston Martin - Hall
#67 Porsche - Maassen
#68 Porsche - Parisy

Lamy Aston Le Mans

Sat 12:40 GTE PRO STARTERS

Onto GTE Pro now (both parts of this class are being covered by SCOTT MITCHELL by the way), signified by the green GT car.

Starting drivers:
#99 Aston Martin - Stanaway
#51 Ferrari - Bruni
#97 Aston Martin - Mucke
#95 Aston Matin - Thiim
#91 Porsche - Lietz
#92 Porsche - Pilet
#64 Corvette - Gavin
#71 Ferrari - Calado

We've already lost the #63 Corvette remember, after it crashed heavily in qualifying.

#99 Aston Martin, Le Mans 2015

Sat 12:40 @NISMO: The No.23 will start from pitlane after receiving a few clutch adjustments.

Sat 12:42 Weather latest: It's bright and sunny - air temp 22C; track temp 25C.

Sat 12:43 LMP2 STARTERS:

For posts concerning LMP2, being covered by MITCHELL ADAM, we have a black prototype.

Starting drivers LMP2:

#47 ORECA - Bradley
#26 Ligier - Bird
#41 Gibson - Lancaster
#38 Gibson - Turvey
#36 ORECA - Chatin
#46 TDS - Gommendy
#34 Ligier - Vanthoor
#48 ORECA - Berthon
# 28 Ligier - Derani
#43 Morgan - Webb
#29 Morgan - Roussel
#27 BRE - Minassian
#42 Strakka Dome - Kane
#37 BRE - Aleshin
#30 Ligier - Dalziel
#31 Ligier - Fogarty
#40 Ligier - Barbosa
#35 Ligier - Nicolet
#45 ORECA - Ibanez

Bradley Le Mans 2015

Sat 12:44 @Audi__Sport: "Toilets in the pit garage are busy. Last pit stop for the three starting drivers ;-)"

Sat 12:45 LMP1 STARTERS:

And we recognise the top class, LMP1, with a red prototype. That is being covered by GLENN FREEMAN.

Starting drivers LMP1:

#18 Porsche - Jani
#17 Porsche - Bernhard
#19 Porsche - Hulkenberg
#8 Audi - Duval
#7 Audi - Lotterer
#9 Audi - Bonanomi
#2 Toyota - Wurz
#1 Toyota - Buemi
#12 Rebellion - Beche
#13 Rebellion - Imperatori
#4 CLM - Kaffer
#22 Nissan - Tincknell
#23 Nissan - Mardenborough
#21 Nissan - Ordonez

Neel Jani, #19 Porsche, Le Mans 2015

Sat 12:47 We're five minutes away from the start of the formation lap.

Sat 12:49 Three minutes until the cars set off, and now the grid is being cleared.

Sat 12:50 MAXIMUM STATTACK:

From the rookies, to those who have spent a bit more time pounding around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The most experienced driver in the field is Emmanuel Collard, who leads the line in the #83 AF Corse Ferrari in the GTE Am class.

He will start his 21st Le Mans 24 Hours, which will put him in equal-10th place in the all-time list, level with Andy Wallace. Here are the most prolific starters:

1 Henri Pescarolo, 33
2 Bob Wollek, 30
3 Yojiro Terada, 29
4 Derek Bell, 26
5 Francois Migault, 24
6 Claude Ballot-Lena, 23
7 Claude Haidi, 22
= Pierre Yver, 22
= Jan Lammers, 22
10 Andy Wallace, 21

Only 12 drivers in the field have started the Le Mans 24 Hours 10 times prior to this year, they are:

Emmanuel Collard, 20
Olivier Beretta, 19
Nicolas Minassian, Pedro Lamy, 15
Romain Dumas, Oliver Gavin, 14
Stephane Sarrazin, Jorg Bergmeister, 13
Darren Turner, 12
Benoit Treluyer, Patrick Long, Jonny Kane 10



Sat 12:52 Engines are fired up, and the formation lap begins. We're eight minutes from the start of the race.

Sat 12:55 AUTOSPORT’S PREDICTIONS

Right, time to call it. Here's something that could fling egg onto the faces of our team of paddock journalists...

Despite the impressive one-lap pace of the Porsche 919 Hybrids, another Audi victory is anticipated by the majority of our team.

As for LMP2 and GTE, the fight is very much open.

GARY WATKINS
Overall: #7 Audi
LMP2: #26 Ligier
GTE Pro: #51 Ferrari
GTE AM: #98 Aston Martin

SCOTT MITCHELL
Overall: #7 Audi
LMP2: #34 Ligier
GTE Pro: #51 Ferrari
GTE AM: #98 Aston Martin

MITCHELL ADAM
Overall: #8 Audi
LMP2: #38 Gibson
GTE Pro: #99 Aston Martin
GTE AM: #98 Aston Martin

STEPHEN LICKORISH
Overall: #7 Audi
LMP2: #34 Ligier
GTE Pro: #97 Aston Martin
GTE AM: #98 Aston Martin

EDD STRAW
Overall: #8 Audi
LMP2: #46 ORECA
GTE Pro: #99 Aston Martin
GTE AM: #50 Chevrolet

GLENN FREEMAN
Overall: #1 Toyota
LMP2: #38 Gibson
GTE Pro: #97 Aston Martin
GTE AM: #98 Aston Martin

The prospect of a Toyota TS040 HYBRID sneaking its way to success with a slower car after losing out to a mechanical failure last year when it was genuinely favourite is an enticing one.

Toyota, Le Mans 2015

Sat 12:56 ‏@ollyjarvis: "It's race time! Nothing beats the atmosphere."

Sat 12:56 The pace car is reaching the end of the Mulsanne straight, with the whole field in tow.

Sat 12:58 A slow-moving AF Corse Ferrari just appeared on our TV monitors, but it looks like it picked up pace again quickly enough. Not sure who it was.

Sat 12:58 Race control reminds drivers to get into grid formation before the Porsche Curves.

Sat 12:59 Nobody has taken that message in, clearly, because they're still in single file through that section. But here we go, nearly start time...

Sat 13:00 The 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours is go!

Sat 13:01 Porsche holds onto its 1-2-3, with the Audis snapping at the heels of Hulkenberg.

Sat 13:01 Bernhard passes Jani for the lead on the Mulsanne straight, as the factory cars all form a long queue.

Sat 13:03 As they exit Mulsanne Corner it's Bernhard, Jani, Hulkenberg, Duval, Lotterer, Bonanomi, Buemi, Wurz up front.

Sat 13:03 In GTE, the #99 Aston has held a slender lead over the #51 Ferrari.

The #71 Pro Ferrari has already made up a few positions having been sent almost to last.

Sat 13:04 The Audis of Duval and Lotterer are giving Hulkenberg plenty to think about as the first lap comes to an end, and Duval gets through before the final chicane. The #8 Audi is up to third.

Sat 13:04 Applause from the Audi garage as the first of the R18s breaks the Porsche stranglehold on the top three at the expense of the Formula 1 driver.

Sat 13:05 Bruni has got ahead of Stanaway, so the #51 Ferrari leads GTE Pro as they cross the line at the end of the first lap.

Sat 13:05 Five seconds cover the Porsches, Audis and Toyotas at the end of the first lap. The Japanese cars are hanging in there, sticking in the slipstream of the Audis.

Sat 13:05 Clean first lap in LMP2, Bradley leads in the polesitting KCMG ORECA, while Lancaster (Greaves Motorsport) and Turvey (Jota) have found their way past Bird in the G-Drive OAK. Then it's Gommendy, Chatin and Vanthoor.

Sat 13:07 Some feisty action moment later, as Bird takes third in LMP2 back from Turvey at the second Mulsanne chicane.

Sat 13:08 Lotterer - now fourth at the expense of Hulkenberg - sets the fastest lap - 3m20.709s on lap two.

Lotterer Le Mans 2015

Sat 13:08 Bird is now back up to second in LMP2, Bradley leads by just over two seconds.

Sat 13:08 Audi is clearly well up for this. It's game on. Duval and Lotterer are straight onto poleman Jani's tail, while Bernhard holds a slight lead out front.

Bonanomi has picked off Hulkenberg too, putting the third Porsche down to sixth.

Sat 13:09 The #67 Porsche has picked up a five-minute stop-go penalty for breaching Article 65.B - that's for the engine change it required following its qualifying fire.

Sat 13:10 At the end of the second lap Stanaway's back ahead of Bruni. The GTE Pro battle starting off nice and feisty.

Gavin got the Corvette ahead of the #92 Porsche on lap one, by the way, while Calado's made up a couple more places as the #71 Ferrari recovers.

Sat 13:10 The Toyotas are starting to drop back from the two German marques ahead of them. This race was always going to be about stealth for the TS040s - they'll be hoping it comes back to them later on.

Sat 13:12 Bruni's fallen to third now, behind the #95 Aston. Thiim's had a great start, he's up from fourth to second having passed team-mate Mucke (#97) on the second lap.

Sat 13:12 Good news for Porsche - race leader Bernhard is able to respond to the early Audi onslaught by lapping faster than the chasing pack that time around.

Jani continues to keep Duval and Lotterer at bay, while Bonanomi leads Hulkenberg in the fight for fifth.

Buemi and Wurz have settled in, three seconds apart, in the Toyotas.

Sat 13:13 Having moved back up to second, Bird clearly feels there's more in his G-Drive (OAK) Ligier. He's closed in on Bradley to be running within a second of the class lead. A little further back, Gommendy has moved his TDS Racing entry into third, past Lancaster.

Sat 13:13 Stanaway still leads as Thiim cuts the first part of the Ford chicane behind. That's given Bruni a sniff, and he's very close over the line but not able to dive by into the Dunlop chicane.

Sat 13:13 ‏@Toyota_Hybrid: "Great action shots from the first few laps of #LM24."

width="583"

Sat 13:14 Pedro Lamy, suffering from chickenpox this week, leads GTE Am and is ahead of four Pro cars at present.

The #72 SMP Ferrari, being driven by Andrea Bertolini, is second in the Am class.

Sat 13:15 Not all of the drivers are following the action...

@karunchandhok: "Right... Now that the race has started, I'm off for a nap!!"

Sat 13:15 Porsche has got its feet under the table, so to speak, out front. Bernhard and Jani trade fastest laps at the end of lap four, edging away (only slightly) from the chasing Audis.

Hulkenberg is nearly three seconds behind the Audi trio now, settling in to some quiet no-man's land between the leaders and the Toyotas.

Sat 13:18 Both Nissans that are running (the #23 isn't) are now onto the first page of our timing screens, which means they are in the top 22. Tincknell leads Ordonez - so #22 leads #21.

Sat 13:19 It's the #99 by a nose with Thiim less than half a second behind Stanaway ahead.

Bruni regrouped with a personal-best lap last time round and has put over a second between the #51 Ferrari and the chasing #97 Aston.

Sat 13:19 A nice early scrap between Chatin in the Signatech Alpine and Vanthoor in the Honda-powered OAK Ligier for fifth in LMP2. They've swapped places a couple of times, Vanthoor has now seured the position.

At the front, Bradley still leads Bird, with Gommendy third.

Meanwhile, Ibanez has received a stop-go penalty for jumping the start.

Sat 13:19 Just 5.1s covers the top five: Bernhard, Jani, Duval, Lotterer, Bonanomi.

Hulkenberg is 7.7s off the lead, with the Toyotas +16s and +20s.

Sat 13:20 Thiim leads in GTE Pro, moving the #95 past the #99 Aston.

Sat 13:20 The leaders have caught the GTE cars. This is where Audi could sniff a chance to get at the two Porsches out front.

Sat 13:22 Not all of the drivers are following the action, some are preparing for the long day ahead...

‏@karunchandhok: "Right... Now that the race has started, I'm off for a nap!!"

Sat 13:22 The Pegasus entry is in pitlane, having received a mechanical black flag from stewards a couple of minutes ago.

Sat 13:22 Here’s the relative pace of the lead car for each works LMP1 car in the first four flying laps (laps 2-5).

Porsche 3m20.791s
Audi 3m20.947s
Toyota 3m23.668s
Nissan 3m43.513s

Sat 13:22 Bernhard has the best of the first bunch of traffic, extending his lead over Jani to four seconds.

Jani is under all kinds of pressure from the Audis as they head back out to the Mulsanne, but the Audis are fighting each other too as they continue to lap GTE runners. Lotterer has got the #7 ahead of Duval in the #8 into the first chicane.

Hulkenberg is back in the thick of it too - passing Bonanomi back for fifth.

Sat 13:23 A change for fifth in GTE Pro as Gavin moves the Corvette ahead of the #91 Porsche. Good progress from the C7.R so far.

Speaking of progress, Calado's up to 44th overall - still last in Pro, but now with only five more Am-class cars ahead of him (and one of those is Lamy in fifth overall in GTE).

Sat 13:24 @NISMO: "15:22. Great news! The No.23 is in the race! @Jannthaman at the wheel."

Sat 13:25 Lotterer is hunting Jani now, with Duval hanging back in fourth. That's the big battle in LMP1 at the moment. Bernhard leads for Porsche by 4.7s.

Sat 13:25 The Porsches have maintained their early lead.

Le Mans 2015 start

Sat 13:26 A slow lap from the GTE Am leader, a few seconds off the pace. Lappery in the middle sector might be to blame, and he's dropped behind the Pro-class Corvette now. Still going strong though.

Sat 13:27 @AMR_Official: "The GTE PRO battle is epic... we've had three leaders already. This is going to be an awesome 24 hours."

Sat 13:28 The fight for the LMP2 lead has intensified. Bird had a big look alongside Bradley down Mulsanne, but had to yield at the first chicane. Gommendy then bought into the action, and passed Bird at the end of the straight to sit second.

A little further back, Vanthoor has passed both the Jota and Greaves-entered Gibsons to sit fourth.

Sat 13:29 PBs for the first four GTE Pro cars but the order remains the same. Stanaway, though, is closer to Thiim.

Sat 13:30 Jani is eating back into Bernhard's lead at the moment, closing it to 3.4s now. He still has Lotterer's and Duval's Audis for company, no wonder he's keeping the pace up.

Sat 13:31 We have our first pitstop in LMP1 on lap nine - Bonanomi brings the #9 Audi in from P6, having fallen back behind Hulkenberg's Porsche during the first encounters with traffic.

Sat 13:33 Unsighted by TV, Gommendy looks to have moved into the lead of LMP2, with a move on Bradley, as the lead trio are joined by the ByKolles LMP1 entry.

Sat 13:33 GARY WATKINS reckons that was a straightforward strategy call from Audi. "Get him off sequence with the other cars, and get him away from Hulkenberg's Porsche where he was stuck in sixth place."

Sat 13:34 Ignoring the opening lap, Bonanomi completed seven flying laps in that stint opening stint at an average pace of 3m23.288s.

Sat 13:35 Duval and Hulkenberg pit at the end of lap 10, coming in from P4 and P5.

Out front, Bernhard leads Jani and Lotterer.

Sat 13:35 Gommendy's lead was brief, he's now pitted, along with Vanthoor, Lancaster, Dalziel, Turvey, Fogarty and Aleshin.

Sat 13:37 Possible problem for the Jota Sport Gibson, Turvey hasn't left pitlane yet and is dropping down the order.

Sat 13:37 Bonanomi's earlier stop has got him back ahead of Hulkenberg's Porsche, in what is effectively the battle for fifth once the pitstop cycle shakes out.

Sat 13:37 A good few laps from Thiim has bought him a reprieve from Stanaway behind.

Three very quick, very consistent laps have moved him two seconds clear. But it's still only two seconds, so the #95 Aston can't relax too much.

Bruni's fallen away a bit in the #51 Ferrari, 1.8s behind Stanaway at the end of the Pro runners' ninth lap.

Sat 13:38 Jani and Lotterer stop at the end of lap 11, with Wurz following further back.

Of the leading cars, only the race-leading Porsche of Bernhard and the Toyota of Buemi have not come in yet.

Sat 13:39 More progress from Calado, who now just has the two lead GTE Am cars (Lamy and Bertolini) between him and the rear of the Pro field.

Once he clears them he'll be just over three seconds behind Pilet in the #92 Porsche.

Calado Le Mans 2015

Sat 13:40 Bradley and Bird have pitted form the front of the LMP2 field and rejoined without too many problems, looks like they've rejoined behind Gommendy. Yet to stop, Berthon leads in the Murphy Prototypes ORECA.

Sat 13:40 Duval's stop a lap before Lotterer's has got the #7 Audi back ahead of the #8 in the fight for what is effectively third place. Jani has held them both off, building a decent cushion through this first pit sequence. He's 10 seconds clear of them now, having had them all over his tail before the stops.

Sat 13:41 Bernhard pits the #17 Porsche from the lead at the end of lap 12. Further back, Buemi brings the P2 #1 Toyota in as well.

Sat 13:43 Thiim edges the #95 Aston to a 2.3s lead, with a similar gap from the #99 Aston in second to the #51 Ferrari in third.

Is anyone closing on anyway else? Calado's the man on the move, putting the #71 Ferrari just a couple of seconds behind the #92 Porsche.

Sat 13:43 Bernhard holds onto the lead, but only just. Jani has to negotiate his way past an Aston Martin in the first sector, but he's only 1.1s behind the leading Porsche now.

Duval is another 6.5s back in third, with Lotterer close behind and Bonanomi a bit further adrift in the third Audi. Hulkenberg is still keeping Bonanomi honest in their scrap.

Buemi, in the leading Toyota, is 39s off the lead.

Sat 13:44 The GTE Am-leading #98 Aston Martin has stopped, putting the #72 SMP car of Bertolini into the lead and Patrick Long second in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche.

Sat 13:44 Berthon pits, handing control of LMP2 back to Gommendy, who has Bird and Bradley for company, with Vanthoor and Lancaster rounding out the current top five.

Gommendy was quick and up for a fight during the first half an hour, whether TDS fancies building a lead at this early stage remains to be seen.

Sat 13:44 @StrakkaRacing: "Fuel stop this lap - car missing part of dive plane but all ok."

Sat 13:44 With the Audis currently 7s back, we could have a Porsche fight for the lead on our hands here. Jani is hanging onto Bernhard, getting to within one second of the #17 car.

Sat 13:45 The #21 Nissan is cruising down the Mulsanne Straight with its left-side door up. Oh dear.

Sat 13:46 Ordonez, running 26th, is on an outlap in that Nissan, so it must have hit a snag during its pitstop which prevented the door from closing properly.

Tincknell has the lead Nissan (#22) up to 18th now.

Sat 13:46 Thiim pumps in the #95 Aston's best lap of the race so far and that extends its advantage to 3.5s at the front. Stanaway's still edging clear of Bruni in second though.

The #71 Ferrari's the second-fastest GTE on the track and is just a second behind the #92 Porsche now in the battle for eighth.

Sat 13:48 Ordonez brings the #21 Nissan - with its open door - back to the pits for inspection.

Sat 13:48 So how are the Nissans getting on? When they haven't been making a late start or suffering from unexpectedly-open doors, the pace has been relatively consistently in the 3m42-3m43s bracket. That means the pace gap to the front is pretty similar to what we saw in qualifying.

Sat 13:49 The two lead Porsches had a tough lap with traffic. They're only 0.5s apart, but Duval has blown away their lead of 7s to get within 3s of them again. Lotterer is close by in fourth as well, so Audi keeps up the chase.

Sat 13:50 ‏@MurphyPrototype: "Nat brings the car back in P1 and makes our first pit stop of the race (fuel only) we rejoin in P7."

width="583"

Sat 13:51 The first pitstops have taken place among the GTE Pro runners, with Gavin diving in in the #74 Corvette and followed swiftly by the #92 Porsche.

Sat 13:52 Bradley has moved back past Bird and into second in P2, with Gommendy now leading by four seconds. At the back of the pack, the Jota Gibson has returned to the track, almost two laps behind Gommendy.

Sat 13:53 The leading GTE Pro runners all stop. Let's see how this plays out.

Sat 13:55 Jani remains right on Bernhard's tail in the fight for the lead. Right now they've got around three seconds back to the lead Audi of Duval.

Sat 13:57 @JotaSport: "@OliverTurvey P3 after opening lap, pits with gearshift issue @24hoursoflemans resumes P18."

Sat 13:58 The upshot of the pitstops is Bruni has jumped Stanaway and Calado jumped the two Porsches. So the #51 Ferrari's now second and the #71 sixth.

Sat 13:58 While the two Porsches scrap for the lead, the #8 Audi is closing up. All three of the Audis setting an impressive pace, with both #8 and #9 faster last lap round.

Sat 13:59 Meanwhile, the #72 SMP Ferrari and #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche both pitted in GTE Am...

The #72 rejoins in the lead, so has jumped the #98 Aston.

Sat 13:59 Sure enough, Duval is now up with Bernhard and Jani to make it three for the lead.

Sat 14:00 The #13 Rebellion of Imperatori is in the gravel at the first chicane on Mulsanne.

Sat 14:00 A Porsche GT car is on fire!

Sat 14:01 It's the #92 Porsche. Pilet is out of the car. Big fire and it's pulled off on the side of the Mulsanne straight.

Sat 14:01 Looks like Imperatori in the Rebellion hit the LMP2 Strakka Dome coming into the first Mulsanne chicane.

Sat 14:03 Remember, there are three safety cars, such is the length of the track. One joins at the Ford Chicane, another at the first chicane on Mulsanne and the other at Arnage. So the field should end up in three clumps.

Sat 14:03 The #13 Rebellion is being towed out of the gravel.

Sat 14:04 Prior to the deployment of the safety car, Audi were coming on strong. When traffic wasn't in the way, its drivers were able to lap in the 3m20s, whereas the Porsches at their quickest were in the 3m21s.

Sat 14:05 Looks like the top eight LMP1 runners - so all of the works Audis, Porsches and Toyotas, are in the same safety-car queue. So there will be no splits among them.

Sat 14:07 The #13 Rebellion has rejoined the circuit, and it's making its way back to the pits with damage to the front bodywork after that clash with a GT car and the Strakka down at the first Mulsanne chicane.

Sat 14:07 ‏@StrakkaRacing: "Replacing rear wing, cut in tyre."

Sat 14:08 There is a lot of oil down on the racing line on the approach to the first Mulsanne chicane. Marshals are at work trying to dry it out with powder, as the field files by on the right-hand side.

Sat 14:09 Before the safety car, Gommendy led LMP2 by seven seconds, over Bradley and Bird - who is taking advantage of this caution to make a pitstop.

With Bird pitting and handing over to Rusinov, Vanthoor is now third, ahead of Lancaster, Chatin, Berthon and Webb.

Sat 14:09 Heavy front-end damage on the Rebellion #13 as it comes back to the pits. The cars goes into the garage, where the team will check out if it's bodywork-only or something more serious underneath.

Sat 14:10 Positivity from Jota after its gearbox troubles:

‏@JotaSport: "Gearbox potentiometer replace @OliverTurvey reports all good now. We came back last yr from a longer early pit stop."

Sat 14:11 LMP1 lead order behind the safety car:

1 #17 Porsche
2 #18 Porsche
3 #8 Audi
4 #7 Audi
5 #9 Audi
6 #19 Porsche
7 #1 Toyota
8 #2 Toyota

And, fortunately, all eight are in the same safety car queue so nobody has been disadvantaged.

Bernhard Le Mans 2015

Sat 14:11 Here's the average pace for the leading LMP1 cars between their pit-stops and the deployment of the safety car:

1 Duval, 3m22.976s
2 Bonanomi, 3m22.908s
3 Hulkenberg 3m23.119s
4 Lotterer, 3m23.389
5 Bernhard 3m24.161s
6 Jani, 3m24.712s
7 Buemi, 3m25.872s
8 Wurz, 3m27.449s

Sat 14:13 We've just had a replay of Wurz spinning the #2 Toyota at the second chicane, seemingly under safety car conditions.

Sat 14:15 Bertolini has taken over lead of the GTE Am class.

Bertolini Le Mans 2015

Sat 14:17 This is the GTE Pro order under the safety car. All the cars are together, fortunately:

1. #95 Aston, Thiim
2. #51 Ferrari, Bruni
3. #97 Aston, Mucke
4. #99 Aston, Stanaway
5. #64 Corvette, Gavin
6. #71 Ferrari, Calado
7. #91 Porsche, Lietz

Sat 14:17 And the GTE Am order:

1. #72 SMP Ferrari, Bertolini
2. #98 Aston, Lamy
3. #55 AF Corse Ferrari, Griffin

Sat 14:18 The #13 Rebellion leaves the garage, it's heading back into the action after that shunt caused by oil from the GTE Porsche.

Sat 14:19 Toyota was the real winner under this safety car. It was falling to around a minute off the lead with both cars before the race was neutralised. Now it has both cars back within 20s of the front.

Sat 14:19 In LMP2, Gommendy and Bradley will restart together at the front of the field, while the pack led by third-placed Vanthoor is 85 seconds further back.

Sat 14:21 We're now onto the fourth lap of the safety car.

Sat 14:21 A look at the times from the first GTE Pro stint shows Thiim firmly in control in the #95 Aston.

He was stretching his lead comfortably with a series of quick laps. The half-dozen before the stop was very impressive:

3m56.908s
3m56.723s
3m56.790s
3m57.147s
3m56.539s
3m56.414s

How's that for consistency around an 8.47-mile track?

Sat 14:21 Restart is imminent.

Sat 14:22 The safety cars pull in, we're back racing at Le Mans, with Jani and Duval chasing Bernhard for the lead in LMP1.

Sat 14:23 ‏@OAKRacingLive: "@kevinestre is getting ready for a driver change on the #34!"

Sat 14:24 The GTE Pros come across the line...line astern. Didn't think that word order through.

It's Thiim, Bruni, Mucke, Stanaway, Gavin, Calado. Great roster of talent there.

Sat 14:25 Bernhard breaks away, and behind it's all kicking off. The Audis are all at it on Jani's tail, with Lotterer passing Duval for third.

Bonanomi then attacks Duval as well, with Hulkenberg briefly making it three-wide on the Mulsanne!

Duval slips back to the third of the Audis, and Hulkenberg passes him into the Porsche Curves. A painful restart for the #8 car that was third just a minute ago.

Sat 14:26 Jani's mirrors are full of Audis. Lotterer is all over him as they head back onto the Mulsanne. Up front, Bernhard is 1.5s clear of this fight.

Sat 14:26 The Toyotas, which restarted behind the Porsches and the Audis, have already slipped five seconds behind sixth-placed Duval's #8 car.

Sat 14:27 Lotterer, Bonanomi, Hulkenberg, Duval - that's the train on Jani's tail right now as they head from Mulsanne corner to Indianapolis.

Sat 14:27 @KrohnRacing: "Pit stop 2: @barbosaracing suffered LR flat tire @MichelinAlley pitted under caution."

Sat 14:28 The #9 Audi of Bonanomi is now on its 12th lap since it stopped. That will be the frontrunning car in for a scheduled stop, although the safety car will have allowed it to save fuel and extend the stint length.

Sat 14:29 The incident between the expired #92 Porsche and the two cars that tripped over each other behind its apparent blown engine at the Mulsanne chicane – the #13 Rebellion LMP1 and the #42 Strakka LMP2 – is under investigation.

Sat 14:30 Hulkenberg passes Bonanomi's Audi for fourth into the second Mulsanne chicane.

Sat 14:31 The leaders have caught a train of GTE cars - this could shake things up. Jani is right on Bernhard's rear wing for the lead, and the #7 Audi is there too.

Sat 14:31 In the fight for third in GTE Am Long has got the #77 Porsche ahead of the #55 Ferrari.

Sat 14:31 Lancaster pits from P4 in LMP2 and rejoins, while leader Gommendy peeled into pitlane a lap later. That leaves Bradley in the lead, about 40 seconds clear of the next pack.

Sat 14:32 Bernhard, Jani and Lotterer have broken away in that traffic, and they are nose-to-tail! Lotterer is looking very feisty as they cross the line, and he passes Jani for second into Turn 1, before having a look at Bernhard as well into the chicane.

He doesn't make it stick, but he passes him on the exit instead - Audi leads!

Sat 14:33 Vanthoor has also pitted, handing the Honda-powered OAK Ligier over to Estre.

Sat 14:33 Bonanomi and Hulkenberg pitted while that was going on, and Hulkenberg just hangs onto track position in their fight. They were fourth and fifth before stopping.

Sat 14:34 Traffic, and specifically getting out of the way of the LMP1s, has cost the #99 Aston fourth. Stanaway's strong start has morphed into a tricky battle as he slips behind the #64 Corvette.

Gavin on the move. Thiim leads by 3.8s out front.

Sat 14:34 Hulkenberg in the #19 Porsche and Bonanomi in the #9 Audi have both taken on fuel only, so their tyres head into their third stint.

Sat 14:34 The Porsches are using their power advantage to climb all over Lotterer's #7 Audi, but he's keeping them at bay on the run to Indianapolis. We're nearly into the Audi territory of the lap, where he'll look to catch some breathing space. What a cracking fight.

Sat 14:35 Should see the #8 Audi in next. Then the leading #7 a lap later.

Sat 14:35 Sure enough, with the help of some traffic, Lotterer extends his lead through the final sector to 1.6s. Bernhard second, Jani third.

Duval pits the #8 Audi from fourth place.

Sat 14:37 Third-placed Jani gets baulked lapping the TDS LMP2 car at the first Mulsanne chicane, giving Bernhard a chance to regroup and try to get after new leader Lotterer.

Sat 14:38 Duval rejoins from the pits just behind the Hulkenberg/Bonanomi fight, so it's as-you-were back there.

Sat 14:38 We should see #7 Audi and #2 Toyota in this lap.

Sat 14:39 Sure enough, Lotterer pits from the lead, leaving Bernhard and Jani on track to assume a one-two for Porsche again.

Wurz brings the #2 Toyota in as well.

Sat 14:39 Turvey has pitted again in the Greaves entry, a much smoother stop this time around, and he rejoins the race.

KCMG's class leader Bradley is now in as well, Gommendy was involved with the Porsches while being lapped a moment ago, we'll wait to see who emerges in the effective LMP2 lead.

The Signatech Alpine has also pitted, looks like Berthon in the Murphy entry will take the lead again, running a lap or two longer than its rivals.

Sat 14:40 The #17 should pit at the end of the current lap, handing the lead to the sister #18 Porsche. The #1 Toyota is also due in.

Sat 14:42 As expected, Bernhard brings the leading #17 Porsche into the pits for what should be a fuel-only stop.

Sat 14:42 The #64 Corvette stopped a lap earlier than the others in the GTE Pro battle, at the end of its 12th tour.

With an outlap, a flying lap and four laps under the safety car, we should be halfway through the second stints.

Sat 14:42 That hands the lead to Jani in the #18 Porsche, but he'll only have a lap to enjoy it as he's due in for fuel next time round.

Sat 14:43 New fastest lap from Bernhard in the #17 Porsche last time round.

Sat 14:43 The #1 Toyota also made a fuel-only stop, as anticipated.

Sat 14:44 Berthon has now pitted, a lap after Gommendy, but it's a moot point. The speed of KCMG's stop - and track position advantage from the safety car groupings - meant he rejoined in the lead of the race.

Gommendy, who led before these stops, is now 15 seconds behind. Russinov in the G-Drive OAK will be third, a further 25 seconds behind, ahead of Lancaster.

Sat 14:46 Here comes the #17 Porsche, which was flying again on that lap with Bernhard. Fuel only.

Sat 14:46 Krohn has spun at the first Mulsanne chicane, and ended up located precariously on the inside of the blind apex.

The rejoin was interesting, seems like he got away with it. Although the director cut away from it mid-manoeuvre to show a shot of a gentleman standing in pitlane, who was probably watching what we were watching.

Sat 14:46 So that completed the second round of pitstops for the leading LMP1 cars. All the Porsches, Audis and Toyotas are now into their third stint on their starting set of tyres after all taking tyres only at those stops.

Sat 14:49 Lotterer spent four seconds longer in the pits than the Porsches, and that dropped him behind them both. But he made short work of Jani to reclaim second, pouncing on the #18 as it was baulked out of Tertre Rouge by an LMP2 car.

Bernhard leads by 2.1s.

Sat 14:49 Gavin's edged clear of Stanaway slightly this lap in the fight for fourth. If they stick to the same pattern as the first stint, the Corvette should be in the pits at the end of this tour, with the remaining GTE Pro cars to follow suit next time round.

Sat 14:51 Here's how they stand at the front after 28 laps

1 #17 Porsche
2 #7 Audi, +1.853s
3 #18 Porsche, +5.262s
4 #19 Porsche, +18.001s
5 #9 Audi, +22.824s
6 #8 Audi, +28.748s
7 #1 Toyota, +36.028s
8 #2 Toyota, +50.992s

Sat 14:51 Griffin's got the #55 Ferrari back ahead of the #77 Porsche in the fight for third in GTE Am. Good battle that, shame we missed the pass.

Sat 14:53 The #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier has spun at the end of Mulsanne. Lost the rear, ended up on the exit, and has crossed the track to park on the inside. Brown has now resumed.

Staying out longer each time has moved the Murphy Prototypes entry up to fifth, but Berthon now has Estre all over the back of the ORECA.

Sat 14:54 Gavin doesn't pit, he goes on to his 14th lap. The four laps under the safety car has bought back enough fuel to extend the stint length this time.

Gavin's under pressure from Stanaway for fourth now. The New Zealander dives past into Mulsanne corner but runs wide.

Gavin cuts back underneath and forces the youngster wide, and Calado gets by both! Excellent driving.

Sat 14:55 Stanaway got ahead of Gavin as well, although Calado's immediately gapped both drivers.

Gavin stays out again.

Sat 14:57 Unseen by the cameras, Lotterer has retaken the lead in the #7 Audi.

Sat 14:57 A poor lap from Lietz in the only remaining Porsche has dropped the #91 behind the two leading Am entries, the #72 Ferrari and #77 Porsche.

The #98 Aston just pit, dalla Lana taking over from Lamy.

Sat 15:00 Krohn has had an eventful race with two spins already, the latest after contact with the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier.

Krohn Le Mans 2015

Sat 15:01 So it's Stanaway who has to yield first at the end of the second stint, bringing the #99 Aston in as Gavin remains on track in the #74 Corvette.

Lietz also pits in the #92 Porsche.

Sat 15:01 Lotterer is charging - he's 3.2s clear of Bernhard now at the front. Jani is 7.8s off the lead in the second Porsche, with Hulkenberg 18s behind the leader in fourth.

Sat 15:02 With all of the focus on Porsche and Audi battling up front, Toyota has slipped under the radar. Currently, #1 is 47 seconds off the lead, with #2 just over a minute down after two hours. The fastest lap we've seen by a Toyota is in the 3m24s bracket, whereas the fastest lap overall is a 3m19.

Sat 15:06 Hulkenberg is holding his own in the fight for fourth with the Audis of Bonanomi and Duval. He's got a 3s cushion over the #9 and 9s over the #8.

Sat 15:07 The #30 ESM Ligier, which copped a hit from Krohn earlier, is in the gravel. Looks like the exit of Tetre Rouge. That's required a slow zone. The sister car, #31 has also been involved in an incident around the same time.

Sat 15:10 The lead Nissan LMP1 is currently running seventh in LMP2...

Tincknell is at the wheel of the #22. Both it and the #21 car have run relatively smoothly so far and are in 16th and 19th places overall (although the #21 car did have a door come open on track). The third car, the #23 of Mardenborough, is down in 52nd after its late start thanks to a clutch problem.

Sat 15:11 A few driver changes in that bout of GTE Pro pitstops:

#51 Ferrari, Fisichella in for Bruni
# 71 Ferrari, Rigon in for Calado
#63 Corvette, Milner in for Gavin
#91 Porsche, Christensen in for Lietz

Sat 15:11 So here's how LMP2 looks as we enter the third hour:
1 KCMG Oreca (Bradley)
2 TDS ORECA (Gommendy) +17s
3 Greaves Gibson (Lancaster) +1m11s
4 OAK Ligier (Estre) +1m40s
5 Murphy ORECA (Berthon) +1m49s

Gommendy was running about seven seconds behind Bradley before having a spin at the first Mulsanne chicane, while Rusinov was in that pack in the #26 G-Drive OAK but has now made the car's third pitstop.

Sat 15:12 One of Fisichella's first tasks is to deal with an over-enthusiastic LMP2, which attempts to pass the Ferrari at the Ford chicane and succeeds in forcing both to run wide.

That's allowed Mucke, who has stayed in the #97 Aston, to attack for third.

Sat 15:14 The reason Fisichella and Mucke are squabbling over third is simple: Stanaway's leapt back to second in the #99 Aston by virtue of not making a driver change.

This is the order after the second stops:

1. #95 Aston, Thiim
2. #99 Aston, Stanaway
3. #51 Ferrari, Fisichella
4. #97 Aston, Mucke
5. #71 Ferrari, Rigon

Sat 15:15 The first of the frontrunners we're expecting in for the third round of pitstops is the #9 Audi, currently in the hands of Bonanomi and the Hulkenberg Porsche.

Sat 15:15 Lotterer's lead over Bernhard has hovered around 3-4s over the last few laps.

Jani, in third, has slipped to 15s off the lead, while Hulkenberg is +27s to Lotterer in the third Porsche.

Without Lotterer's heroics in the #7, we'd have a Porsche 1-2-3 at the moment with Bonanomi and Duval being kept at arm's length.

Sat 15:15 An issue for the #55 Ferrari, which Duncan Cameron is nursing back to the pits with a puncture. That car was running third in GTE Am.

Sat 15:16 ‏@sambirdracing: "First stint down. Many to go. This will be a great fight all the way to the finish I hope."

Sat 15:17 Lotterer sticks the boot in to Porsche - a new fastest lap of 3m18.865s.

Sat 15:17 During that pitstop, Badey replaced Gommendy in the TDS ORECA. He sits behind Berthon, who - like leader LMP2 Bradley - is yet to pit.

Could team-mate Karun Chandhok's Formula E experience be helping with the Murphy entry's fuel consumption?

What we've learned at Le Mans so far

Sat 15:18 The #19 Porsche of Hulkenberg and the #9 Audi of Bonanomi head into the pits.

Sat 15:18 Lotterer took three seconds out of Bernhard with that stunning 3m18s lap. He now leads by 7.6s over the Porsche that had the first hour or so under control.

Sat 15:19 ‏@Audi__Sport: "New track record (race) for No. 7 @Andre_Lotterer in 3m 18.865s."

Sat 15:19 The Audi heads back out after taking on just fuel, but the Porsche stays in for tyres and a driver change, with Tandy taking over from Hulkenberg.

Sat 15:19 Tandy has taken over the #19 Porsche from Hulkenberg, while Bonanomi stays in the #9 Audi.

Sat 15:19 The #8 Audi of Duval is now due in.

Sat 15:20 Having his first stint in the Signatech Apline, Pancianatici has taken fourth place from Lancaster, who's still in the Greaves Gibson he started.

Sat 15:20 @FerrariRaces: "#LeMans Bad luck for #55 @AFCorse running very slow with a blown tyre. Duncan Cameron is driving #Readyforcomeback."

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Sat 15:20 That driver change cost the #19 Porsche 19 seconds to the #9 Audi, which kept Bonanomi at the wheel.

Sat 15:21 Here comes Duval, stopping the #8 Audi after a rapid inlap.

Sat 15:21 GARY WATKINS: Bonanomi has stayed in for a fourth stint on the tyres in the Audi and Porsche has changed drivers and sent Tandy on his way on new Michelins. That' s exactly what we expected — Audi doing quadruples and Porsche triples.

Both cars did 13 laps on the fuel. Whether Porsche will stretch its stints to 14 laps, as its rivals have been predicting, is still an unknown.

Sat 15:22 The #7 Audi that leads in the hands of Lotterer is due in this lap, as is the #2 Toyota of Wurz.

Sat 15:23 Thiim's being caught quite rapidly by Stanaway now. The gap was 10s+ but is now 8s and falling.

Mucke's all over Fisichella for third.

Sat 15:24 Lotterer brings the #7 in after a hot inlap, and a ruthless chop around a backmarker at the pit entry. Fuel only for this Audi, too.

Sat 15:25 Pitstop and driver change for LMP2 leader KCMG. Bradley is out, Lapierre is in.

Sat 15:25 The #17 Porsche leads, with the #18 Porsche up to second now that the Audi has pitted. #18, driven by Jani, is due in this lap.

Sat 15:26 Wurz pits the #2 Audi from P8, having fallen more than 1m30s off the lead before coming in.

Sat 15:26 GARY WATKINS: It's triples also for Toyota. Certainly no surprise there, because that they told us they were going to do.

Sat 15:26 Another slow time from Thiim, in the 4m01s again, and Stanaway is just 6.6s behind.

Christensen's slowly getting the Porsche back to a respectable distance from the next GTE Pro car, which is the #64 Corvette.

Sat 15:27 Sarrazin takes over the #2 Toyota from Wurz.

Sat 15:28 As expected, Jani is in in the #18 Porsche from second place. The tyres are being changed and Lieb takes over.

Sat 15:29 Buemi hands over the #1 Toyota to Davidson. It's all about staying in reach for Toyota in the hope of things going wrong for Audi and Porsche.

Sat 15:30 The leading #17 Porsche will pit this lap.

Sat 15:30 The Riley Motorsports Viper has stealthily made its way into the lead of GTE Am. Top stuff, Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Sat 15:31 GP2 ace Mitch Evans is now in the race, taking over Jota Sport's recovery after the earlier gear selection problem.

Evans is making his Le Mans 24 Hour debut with the reigning LMP2 victor and while he’s the first member of his family to feature in the race, he's not the first to lap here.

"My father [Owen] had a passion for motorsport and still holds the New Zealand Land Speed Record (217mph)," Evans said pre-race.

"He qualified for the 1996 Le Mans 24 Hours but after the test day, crashed heavily while attempting to better the record just before the 24 hour race.

"His heart stopped beating seven times, had a fractured skull, broken ribs causing both lungs to collapse, fractured his left leg and knee, and his left arm was almost severed requiring two months in hospital.

"So it will be good to finally get the Evans name in the Le Mans race.”

The Gibson is 13th in LMP2, about a lap-and-a-half down.



Sat 15:31 Car #96, that's the GTE Am Aston, has been reported to the stewards for not respecting the pit entry.

Sat 15:32 Hartley takes over the #17 Porsche from Bernhard, who led the early part of the race before Lotterer picked things up after the safety car and made Porsche pay.

The #7 Audi, which unlike the Porsches is yet to complete a driver or tyre change, now leads by 28s as a result of its faster stop.

Sat 15:33 So in the last round of pitstops, all three Audis continued onto a quadruple stint, with Lotterer, Duval and Bonanomi staying aboard.

Both Porsche and Toyota took fresh tyres, Davidson (#1) and Sarrazin (#2) took over the Toyotas and Hartley (#17) and Lieb (#18) got into the Porsches.

A stop for tyres/new driver takes around 16 or 17 seconds longer, usually.

Sat 15:33 GARY WATKINS: So the strategy cycle is (for the moment): Audi 13 laps on the fuel and quadruple stints on the tyres; Porsche 13 laps and triples; and the same for Toyota.

Sat 15:34 No further action on the incident between the #92 Porsche, Strakka LMP2 and #13 Rebellion LMP1.

Sat 15:35 What's going on here? Lotterer is pitting the #7 Audi from the lead, way off schedule.

Sat 15:35 Two decent laps from Thiim have stopped Stanaway hacking into his lead, but the gap is eroding – down to under five seconds now.

Sat 15:36 Treluyer takes over the leading car, which takes tyres this time, having made its most-recent scheduled stop only three laps ago.

Sat 15:36 With a new fastest lap in LMP2 - 3m39.704s, a second faster than Bird's earlier benchmark - Lapierre has extended KCMG's lead to 37 seconds. He was three seconds faster than second-placed Badey that last time around.

Sat 15:36 That's hurt the #7 car (obviously). Treluyer rejoins 6th, so Hartley now leads in the #17 Porsche from Lieb in the #18.

Sat 15:38 @Audi__Sport: "Lap 41, 17.35h Fuel, tires after puncture, @Andre_Lotterer out, @BenoitTreluyer in"

Sat 15:39 Some excellent times being set in the GTE Pro ranks at present but Fisichella's consistency is a sight to behold.

The last three laps as he edged clear of the #97 Aston:

2m57.867s
2m57.877s
2m57.839s

OK, he's not winning us over with feisty underdog performances in a Jordan, but he's still pretty quick.

Sat 15:41 Current LMP1 order:

1 #17 Porsche
2 #18 Porsche, +13.1s
3 #8 Audi, +17.0s
4 #9 Audi, +18.0s
5 #19 Porsche, +20.2s
6 #7 Audi, +35.5s

The Toyotas are +1m34s (#1) and +1m56s (#2)

Sat 15:41 Lapierre goes faster again in the KCMG ORECA, this time around it's 3m39.278s compared to Badey's 3m40.998s and the lead is almost 40 seconds. Admittedly with some cars having pitted, only seven cars remain on the lead LMP2 lap.

Sat 15:41 As Bleekemolen extends the #53 Viper's GTE Am lead, Victor Shaitar has moved the #72 Ferrari back ahead of the #98 Aston for second.

Sat 15:43 The gap between the lead #95 Aston and the chasing #99 has stabilised at five seconds, after a couple of unspectacular laps for Stanaway.

Sat 15:44 Lapierre goes even quicker next time around, edging further towards the 3m39s, with a 3m39.168s. Badey responds with a new fastest lap for the TDS entry, but the 3m40.704s is still some way off.

Sat 15:46 Better from Stanaway: the #99's 4s behind the leading #95 Vantage now.

Fisichella's a couple of seconds back.

Sat 15:47 Traffic has spread out the battle for third a bit. Duval now leads Bonanomi by 2.9s, with Tandy 4.4s behind Bonanomi.

Duval will still have eyes on Lieb's Porsche in second, which is only 3.4s ahead of him now.

Hartley leads by 13.1s in the #17 Porsche.

Sat 15:49 We've got yellows at Indianapolis. Unclear why at this stage.

Sat 15:50 Drama for the former race-leading #7 Audi - Treluyer runs wide on the approach to Tertre Rouge and kisses the barrier. It's been a rough few laps for that car - which was in the lead before it suffered a puncture.

Sat 15:50 Debris is the cause of the yellows at Indianapolis, which is not a slow zone.

Sat 15:50 Sarrazin has just done a 3m24.381s in the #2 Toyota, the quickest of the race for that car. The sister car went a few tenths quicker in the hands of Buemi earlier on.

Sat 15:51 It would probably be fair to suggest Stanaway is not far off pitting the #99 Aston in second. He was first to stop last time, and has completed 12 laps in this stint.

The first stint, completed at racing speed, was 13 laps for all except the Corvette. So the New Zealander might well be in this time, and for a driver change too.

Sat 15:51 Big shunt for Duval in the #8 Audi!

Sat 15:53 Thiim's first in - the GTE Pro-leading #95 is in the pits.

Sat 15:53 Duval lost control trying to avoid a clutch of GTE cars that were slowing for the Indianapolis slow zone. He headed off track to the right before spinning across to the left and smashing the barriers.

Amazingly, he's got going and wrestled the car back to the pits pretty quickly, minus a lot of bodywork.



Sat 15:54 Stanaway stops, as predicted, and is followed in by Fisichella in the #51 Ferrari.

That promoted the #97 Aston into the lead, ahead of the #71 Ferrari and #64 Corvette.

Sat 15:54 The #8 Audi is wheeled back into the garage for repairs.

Out on track, Bonanomi has passed Lieb for second.

Sat 15:57 Amazing work from Audi - the #8 is back out already, with di Grassi now at the wheel.

Sat 15:57 Unless we're missing something, the #95's having a very long spell in the pits...

Fisichella and Rees, in for Stanaway, have long since left the pitlane.

Sat 15:57 And now we have a safety car.

Sat 15:59 This is the second safety car of the race.

Sat 15:59 There are three safety cars at this track. Which group you end up in will be essential in terms of deciding where the gaps are between the leading cars.

Sat 16:02 Bonanomi pits the #9 Audi from second place under the safety car. The car gets its first tyre change, and warm-up pacesetter Albuquerque takes over.

Sat 16:02 That stop was a lap early for the #9 Audi relative to is usual sequence.

Sat 16:03 The #9 Audi has to sit at the end of the pitlane waiting for the next safety car group to come by, so it's taken some pain there, but with a stop due anyway, it was inevitable.

Sat 16:04 @NISMO: "Taking advantage of the safety car to change a loose brake duct on the No.23. Will be back out soon."

Sat 16:04 Hartley has caught a massive break in the #17 Porsche - he's in the safety-car group ahead of the cars chasing him.

Sat 16:04 Polesitter Jani explains how he struggled at the start.

@PorscheRaces: "@neeljani: After the start for some reason I had no proper boost to accelerate onto Mulsanne and lost the lead."

He added: "It was difficult to drive close behind Timo because I lost downforce in his slipstream and almost ruined my tyres.”

Sat 16:05 Amazingly, considering the size of the impact, the #8 Audi spent just 4m12s in the pits for repairs. So it's just one lap down on the leader.

Sat 16:07 So we have the #17 Porsche on its own of the leading LMP1 cars in one safety car group. The second group contains the #18 Porsche, #19 Porsche, #7 Audi and the #9 Audi.

Sat 16:07 @PorscheRaces: "@NicoHulkenberg "I had lots of action on my first 36 laps. Start, slow zones, safety car. I'm not a Le Mans virgin anymore and I enjoyed it"

Sat 16:08 Here's who is currently in the factory LMP1 cars:

#1 Toyota - Davidson
#2 Toyota - Sarrazin
#7 Audi - Treluyer
#8 Audi - Di Grassi
#9 Audi - Albuquerque
#17 Porsche - Hartley
#18 Porsche - Lieb
#19 Porsche - Tandy
#21 Nissan - Shulzhitskiy
#22 Nissan - Krumm
#23 Nissan - Mardenborough

Sat 16:09 Audi described the repairs to the #8 car after Duval's shunt as "change of front end, rear end, engine cover". And it only spent 4m12s in the pitlane...

Sat 16:09 The next car among the leaders that is likely to need fuel is the #19 Porsche that runs third in the hands of Tandy.

Sat 16:10 @NISMO: "18:07. No.22 made a very brief visit to the garage to change a rear light assembly. No time lost due to safety car."

Sat 16:13 The #23 Nissan leaves the garage after that brief stoppage for a loose brake duct.

Sat 16:13 In LMP2, that KCMG led by 40 seconds and second-placed TDS Racing pitted just before the safety car was called appears to have blown Lapierre's lead out to almost a lap.

Lapierre was about 40 seconds clear before Badey pitted in the TDS Ligier, and the timing screens are showing that the KCMG ORECA's safety car grouping is three minutes clear, albeit with the field running at reduced speed.

KCMG is still yet to make a fourth stop, while Signatech Alpine has just done that with, having been running in third place.

Sat 16:13 The barrier looks pretty bent out of shape down at Indianapolis where Duval went in.

Sat 16:15 @VanthoorLaurens: "Good first stint. Took things easy to begin with but was able to bring the car in on P4. Still long way to go so getting some sleep now."

Sat 16:17 So, what's happened in LMP1 so far? Here's a recap:

* #17 Porsche takes the lead on lap one

* Lotterer takes the lead for #7 Audi after a safety car, but a puncture forces an unscheduled stop and drops it down the order

* Duval crashes the third-placed #8 Audi when catching a group of cars slowing for a slow zone at Indianapolis, but the car returns to action after a four-minute stop

* Latest safety car splits the lead battle, leaving Hartley a safety car group ahead in the #17 car again

* Porsches currently 1-2-3 (#17, #18, #19)

Bernhard Le Mans 2015

Sat 16:20 Here's a look at the GTE Pro order:

1. #99 Aston, Rees
2. #71 Ferrari, Rigon
3. #97 Aston, Turner
4. #63 Corvette, Milner
5. #51 Ferrari, Fisichella
6. #91 Porsche, Christensen

The big stories:

* Long-time leader Thiim pits the #95 Aston, which is wheeled into the garage with an unknown problem

* The #92 Porsche suffers a dramatic fire at the start of the second hour and retires

Pilet, Le Mans 2015

Sat 16:20 And in GTE Am:

1. #53 Riley Viper, Bleekemolen
2. #72 SMP Ferrari, Shaytar
3. #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Porsche, Ried

Sat 16:21 Ah, scratch that. Bleekemolen finally makes the Viper's third stop, under the safety car. Fair play to him though, he'd taken that car briefly into the outright GTE lead!

Sat 16:23 Repair work seems to be finished at Indianapolis. Hopefully we'll be racing again soon.

Sat 16:24 Ah, seems the #95 Aston Martin has been hobbled by a power-steering problem.

Now, that's not good: it was power steering woes that dropped the #97 out of victory contention last year...

Sat 16:24 Down the order, it's worth noting that ex-Formula 1 driver and Le Mans virgin Max Chilton has taken over the #23 Nissan. It's down in 51st place.

Sat 16:25 Here comes Tandy, bringing in the #19 Porsche under safety car conditions, and making a bit of a mess of the pit entry, getting very out of shape in one of the mini-chicanes.

Earl Bamber takes over from the Briton.

Sat 16:26 So that's Tandy out of the car after just one stint. Made sense given that Porsche had to pit the car for fuel that they took tyres and made a change as it doesn't cost any more time with the safety car deployed.

Sat 16:26 Another roasting Porsche has stopped on track, with flames and black smoke emanating from the #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton entry.

That was had been running strongly, though admittedly hadn't made its third stop.

Sat 16:26 @alex_wurz: "Rather difficult start of this race, a few little glitches to start, so my first tipple stint wasn't too nice to drive here in.

"Last stint a car dropped massive oil on my screen, could hardly see, a little scary frankly, but I didn't want to stop and get out of sync."

Sat 16:27 That problem for the #88 Porsche has dropped a load of oil at the second Mulsanne chicane. The safety car period may yet be extended.

Sat 16:27 In LMP2, the Signatech Alpine has now made its fourth stop, with Panciatici rejoining in eighth place.

Here's the current order:
1 #47 KCMG ORECA, Lapierre
2 #46 TDS Racing Ligier, Badey
3 #48 Murphy ORECA, Chandhok
4 #34 OAK Ligier, Estre
5 #41 Greaves Gibson, Hirsch

Lapierre's safety car group is about 3 minutes ahead of Badey's on the road, but that's with the field running at reduced speed and he's a pitstop behind. He led by 40 seconds before TDS pitted and the safety car came out.

Here's what's happened so far:
* KCMG leads early through Bradley, over Bird in G-Drive Ligier
* TDS takes lead with Gommendy
* TDS and KCMG gain advantage over rest of field with with safety car grouping
* KCMG takes lead during second round of stops, Lapierre replaces Bradley and builds 40-second buffer
* Jota runs third early, suffers gear selection problem and loses almost two laps

Sat 16:27 Expect to see the #2 Toyota that lies sixth in at the end of this lap, unless it has been able to do some extra fuel-saving.

Sat 16:32 Gavin enjoyed his wheel-to-wheel dice with Calado and Stanaway.

He's tweeted: "Nice battle there @JamesCalado @RichieStanaway that was fun! see you out there again in a few hours!"

Calado responds: "nice to race drivers with total respect. Good job boys, see you later"

Now, maybe we're not quite 'ard enough for this GTE racing lark, but Gavin was pretty damn robust in his defence. As in, forced Calado off the main part of the track robust.

Still, nice to see there's no bad blood.

Sat 16:34 @PorscheRaces: "@Timo_Bernard: To overtake Neel on lap 1 wasn't planned. Then the two of us found a good rhythm to defend the Porsche 1-2 lead."

Sat 16:35 ‏@JonLracing: "That was interesting, nice sideways moment in Porsche chicane thanks to an Aston... Good pace last 2 stints! Over to @gary_hirsch."

Sat 16:38 The #95 Aston is back in the race, with Sorensen driving. It has lost five laps...

Sat 16:38 During the safety car period, AUTOSPORT's Glenn Freeman and Edd Straw have both failed miserably at unwrapping bananas. Scott Mitchell, however, was successful.

Sat 16:40 There's a good chance the #2 Toyota will be in at the end of the lap its currently on. Unless it's managed to do some significant extra fuel-saving.

Sat 16:41 Safety car in this lap.

Sat 16:41 Chandhok has brought the Murphy ORECA in for its fourth stop, from third place in LMP2.

Sat 16:42 Duval's explanation for his crash approaching the slow zone is that he saw a green flag, so he remained at racing speed through the kinks on the way to Indianapolis and was unsighted.

Sat 16:42 ‏@Toyota_Hybrid: "The latest images are in! Here is the #1 in action."

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Sat 16:42 The #2 Toyota is, indeed, in the pits.

Sat 16:43 We're off again - with Hartley now in a commanding lead after those safety cars split the field.

Treluyer passes Lieb for second immediately, moving the #7 Audi up.

Sat 16:43 Lieb has a look through the kinks to Indianapolis, but it's so narrow through there that Treluyer can hold onto the position with some crafty placing of his car in the road.

Sat 16:44 Lapierre and Rusinov have pitted for KCMG and G-Drive respectively. The former will rejoin with a handy lead in LMP2, on safety car speeds it was 3m30s before he pitted.

Sat 16:44 Albuquerque (#9) is now on Lieb's tail, looking to grab third from the Porsche.

Sat 16:45 Now we're back to green, we've got a proper indication of Hartley's lead. He's 1m09s ahead of Treluyer's Audi, with Lieb and Albuquerque just behind them.

Sat 16:45 Of the leading LMP1 cars, the #9 Audi, the #19 Porsche and the #2 Toyota all pitted under the safety car.

It won't be long before the #18 Porsche and the #1 Toyota head in.

Sat 16:45 Rees' tenure of first position in GTE Pro hasn't lasted long - both Rigon and Turner have passed the #99 Aston, which drops to third.

The #51 leads, with the #97 very close behind. Milner's a bit further back in the Corvette, while Fisichella is 45s further behind and just ahead of the Porsche.

So we still have the remaining six competitive GTE Pro cars within a minute of each other.

Sat 16:48 As predicted by EDD STRAW, our strategy guru this weekend, the #18 Porsche pits from third.

Sat 16:48 It's all change at the front of GTE Pro!

A manic half a lap ends with Milner scorching through to the lead ahead of Turner, with Rigon falling to third and Rees fourth.

Traffic and mistakes all played a part in that.

Sat 16:49 It's not over yet though. The #97 Aston is all over the #64 Corvette, with the #71 Ferrari and #99 Aston not at all far behind.

Sat 16:50 Following Lapierre's pitstop, KCMG leads by about 35 seconds - more or less its buffer before TDS' pitstop and the safety car period.

However, now, Estre is second in the Honda-powered OAK, having passed Badey on the first lap after racing resumed. Hirsch is fourth, ahead of Panciatici and Chandhok, who just had a fun moment navigating an 80-car pack contesting the GT lead.

Sat 16:51 ‏@ByKOLLES: "After a long repair due to engine problems, @s_trummer is back on track."

Sat 16:51 The leading #17 Porsche should head in at the end of the current lap.

Sat 16:51 Treluyer hacked 6-7s out of Hartley's lead since the restart, getting it close to one minute, but he's now in for a scheduled stop in the #7 Audi.

Sat 16:53 Slight mistake from Milner exiting Mulsanne Corner but it doesn't quite offer Turner an opportunity. The Corvette still leads but it's very much a four-way fight at the moment.

Sat 16:54 Hartley pits from the lead. He might hang onto the lead here, but it'll be close with Albuquerque.

Sat 16:55 Hartley does retain the lead in the #17 Porsche. He now leads the #9 Audi by 18s.

Sat 16:55 ‏@FerrariRaces: "@rigondavide in the #71 @AFCorse @Ferrari is now 3rd in the GTE-Pro classwhile @OfficialFisico is still 5th."

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Sat 16:56 ‏@MurphyPrototype: "A small error in strategy meant that Karun had to wait at the end of the pit lane for over a minute after his latest stop. Currently in P6."

Sat 16:58 Side-by-side for first! Side-by-side for third!

Where to look? No idea. Let's give the lead battle a try.

Still Milner hangs on despite a fierce attempt from Turner, who draws alongside into Mulsanne Corner - but he's on the outside. It's very difficult to overtake that way, and Turner can't on this occassion.

But Rees can! He has a slightly better run on the #71 Ferrari than Turner did on the Corvette, and Rees moves the #99 into third.

So it's Corvette-Aston-Aston-Ferrari now. Excellent stuff.

corvette le mans 2015

Sat 17:00 Turner has spun! The #97 ends up facing the wrong way at the first Mulsanne chicane, and the Aston drops out of second.

Sat 17:02 ‏@LarbreComp: "Let's just say we've had an eventful first 4 hours at #LM24! Another unscheduled pitstop after being caught up in an LMP1 crash."

Sat 17:02 The next car in will be the #9 Audi of Albuquerque, He took over the car with fresh tyres under the safety car, so it will just be for fuel.

Sat 17:03 Albuquerque is hacking away at Hartley's lead. It's down from 18s after Hartley's stop to 11s now.

P3 Treluyer is +49s, with Lieb and Bamber more than one minute back in the other two Porsches to complete the top five.

Sat 17:06 Porsche and Audi are going at it on track, but not for position. Di Grassi is hassling the race leader to try to claim his lap back, and eventually Hartley relents and lets the #8 car go.

Di Grassi clearly fancied getting under the leader's skin there, he was flashing his headlights like mad as they went down the main straight. For the moment, that's not a battle Hartley needs - his fight is with the other two Audis that are within a minute of him.

Sat 17:06 Treluyer is lapping consistently strongly in the #7 Audi in third place. He's set times between 3m20.5s and 3m20.6s for the past three laps, making him the fastest on track among the leaders during that period.

Sat 17:06 That aggro for Hartley means he now leads the soon-to-stop Albuquerque by just 5s. And Albuquerque is flying right now.

Sat 17:08 Lapierre led Estre in the OAK by 37 seconds, before the latter pitted. He's handed over to Cumming, but it appears to have been a slow stop, and the Canadian joins the race in seventh place.

Greaves has also pitted, with Hirsch staying behind the wheel and in third place.

Sat 17:08 GARY WATKINS: Both Toyotas have just set their fastest times of the race, that's a 3m22.9s for Davidson and a 3m23.5s for Sarrazin.

That suggests that the TS040 is, as predicted by Toyota, just a couple of seconds off the pace.

Sat 17:08 Hartley's played it smart, settling in behind the charging di Grassi rather than trying to get in the Audi's way.

Behind him, Albuquerque sets a new fastest lap - 3m18.477s.

Sat 17:09 Two of the Nissans, cars #21 and #22, have just set their fastest laps of the race in the hands of Krumm and Shulzhitskiy respectively. They both did 3m40s, around 22s off the fastest lap of the race that was just set by Albuquerque in the #9 Audi.

Sat 17:10 Milner's GTE lead is 1.5s over Rees, who has dropped Rigon in third.

Turner's set a new PB for the #97 as he bids to make up for lost time - he's only 9.1s off the class lead and homing in on the #71 Ferrari in third.

Sat 17:12 Albuquerque is charging - still yet to pit, he posts a 3m17.647s. He's now all over the leading Porsche of Hartley.

Sat 17:12 The #8 Audi of di Grassi heads in for fuel.

Sat 17:13 Second and fourth in LMP2, Badey and Panciatici have pitted and rejoined the race.

Sat 17:13 Rigon brings the #71 Ferrari into the pits, releasing the #97 in third.

Rees has Milner's class lead down to one second.

Sat 17:14 Albuquerque survives a near-miss with a GTE Porsche on the exit of the Porsche Curves, and then dives into the pits having spent that lap on Hartley's tail.

Sat 17:15 Early stop that, for Rigon. The AF Corse Ferrari in much sooner than expected.

For reference, including an outlap and four tours under the safety car, the #71 completed just 12 laps in that stint.

That's the shortest we've seen so far (equal with Gavin's opening run in the Corvette) and surprising given the amount of time under the safety car.

Sat 17:16 Bamber is settling in well on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut in the #19 Porsche. He's currently 19th and has been lapping in the 3m20s and low 3m21s for the past few laps. Last time round, he was the fastest of the three Porsches.

Sat 17:17 Following Albuquerque's stop, Treluyer now leads the chase of Hartley, 49s behind the leader.

Albuquerque is 1m00s off the lead in third, just ahead of Lieb's Porsche.

Sat 17:17 @NISMO: "No.23 in the garage to rectify a small gear shifting issue."

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Sat 17:17 Rees is as close as he's been to the #64 Corvette ahead, but both should be due into the pits soon. This lap might be a bit early though.

Sat 17:18 In the intra-Toyota battle, with Davidson in the #1 car and Sarrazin in the #2 car, the former is doing the better job. Over the past seven laps, he has pulled 10.101s over the Frenchman.

Sat 17:19 The #99 Aston Martin leads GTE Pro again!

Rees gets a good run down the Mulsanne, draws alongside the Corvette and dives by under braking for the first chicane.

Milner's coming back at him, but Rees has it covered for now.

Sat 17:21 Side-by-side again for the lead of GTE Pro! Milner attacks into into Mulsanne Corner and tags him as he tries to cut back underneath.

The #74 Corvette won't give up though and as they run down towards Indianapolis it's back into first place through the right-hander.

Sat 17:22 Over the past six laps, Bamber in the #19 has been the fastest of the three Porsche 919s. But he is on fresher rubber than both Hartley in the #17 and Lieb in the #18. Of those two, who have very similar-aged tyres, Lieb is around a second per lap faster on average.

Sat 17:22 Now the Audis are fat with fuel again, Hartley is able to turn the tide. He was under siege in terms of laptime before Albuquerque's stop, but at the moment he has the measure of Treluyer's #7 and the #9 in third, with the gaps more than 50s and 1m00s respectively.

Sat 17:22 There you go, Rees lasted another lap (as predicted, we write smugly) and is now into the pits in the Aston having lost the lead.

No tyres, just fuel.

Sat 17:22 Davidson does a 3m22.923s in the #1 Toyota. That's the fastest we've seen either of the TS040s go in the race.

Sat 17:23 Also into the pits are Fisichella in the #51 Ferrari and Christensen in the #91 Porsche.

Sat 17:24 KCMG's lead over TDS - which has made an extra stop - is 86 seconds. Not quite as close as the LMP1 or GT action, but it's still ticking along.

Fourth in LMP2, Chandhok has just set Murphy's fastest lap of the race, a 3m40.730s. The team has made steady progress from eighth on the class grid and generally able to go a couple of laps longer than most other cars.

At the last stop, that didn't quite pay off, having to wait until the next group of cars behind the safety car rolled around to rejoin the race.

Sat 17:24 Bamber pits in the #19 Porsche, which runs fifth.

Sat 17:24 ‏@AMR_Official: "So who's enjoying our battle with @corvetteracing? @fernandorees pits but we look forward to meeting them on track later."

Sat 17:25 Albuquerque has gone from attack to defence since his stop. He's now got the #18 Porsche of Lieb for company in the battle for third. They are around 8s behind Treluyer in P2.

Sat 17:25 The #17 Porsche that leads in the hands of Hartley is currently on its second stint on its second set of Michelins of the race.

Sat 17:25 The #64 Corvette and #97 Aston stopped the latest of the frontrunners last time, so no surprise they've run a little longer.

Should be in this lap but have another in the tank in theory.

Christensen's jumped Fisichella in the pits, so the Porsche is up to fifth in GTE Pro.

Sat 17:26 Lieb suffers in traffic in the Porsche Curves and the final chicane, so Albuquerque gets a bit of a gap for now in third.

Sat 17:27 Turner pits (we're smug) but Milner cracks on.

Would appear that Fisichella spent a long time in the pits in the #51 Ferrari last time, though it's now showing the AF Corse as having left the pitlane.

Sat 17:27 LMP1 order:

1 #17 Porsche (Hartley)
2 #7 Audi (Treluyer)
3 #9 Audi (Albuquerque)
4 #18 Porsche (Lieb)
5 #19 Porsche (Bamber)
6 #1 Toyota (Davidson)
7 #2 Toyota (Sarrazin)
8 #8 Audi (Di Grassi)

Sat 17:28 Despite a new fastest lap for the TDS entry from Badey, Lapierre's lead is out to 1m32.030s. He'd earlier set a new fastest lap in LMP2, a 3m39.023s.

Hirsch is a further 16 seconds behind Badey in third.

Sat 17:29 Sarrazin pits the #2 Toyota on schedule.

Sat 17:30 The GTE Pro-leading Corvette pits.

Sat 17:30 While Albuquerque caught the eye in that stint, and was rapid, Treluyer was also very impressive on older rubber.

Sat 17:30 As though KCMG knew it was being written, about Lapierre has pitted. Clean stop, he remains in the car, which is now on its 62nd lap of the day.

Lapierre, Le Mans 2015

Sat 17:33 Lieb pits the #18 Porsche from fourth place, where he was hassling Albuquerque, who now gets a breather.

Sat 17:33 ‏@VanthoorLaurens: "We had to put the car in the box for a check at the underfloor which has costed us 2min....."

Sat 17:33 @NISMO: "19:32. No.21 back in the garage receiving some further attention."

Sat 17:34 After the pitstops the Corvette's grabbed an extra second and a bit in its fight with the #99 Aston. Turner's just over 10s back in third.

Olivier Beretta has taken over the #71 Ferrari.

Sat 17:34 Lucky escape for Hirsch in the Greaves Gibson, running wide at the first chicane and through the gravel. Fortunately not quite all of the way to the tyre barrier, for his sake. He's still in third place.

Sat 17:35 Audi #7 should be heading into the pits from second place.

Sat 17:36 Some nice little tidbits from Dunlop, the primary tyre supplier in LMP2 - all three of its dry compounds are currently on track.

The line-up has been revamped over winter, to the point that one team quadruple-stinted a set of tyres from the start of the race. From here, tyre strategy is about as open as you can imagine.

Sat 17:36 And sure enough, here comes Treluyer for another tank of fuel.

Sat 17:38 Treluyer slots the #7 Audi back into third, with Albuquerque taking up the chase of Hartley again in the #9. Hartley leads by 57s.

Lieb goes for a trip across the first Mulsanne chicane to avoid a GTE AM Porsche that wasn't giving him much room to work with.

Sat 17:39 Following the earlier update from Vanthoor about OAK Racing's floor slowing its pitstop, Cumming is circulating in seventh place.

He's one spot ahead of the G-Drive Ligier, which started second and was in the lead fight in Bird's hands earlier. Canal is currently in the car for his first stint, with Rusinov having also completed a stint.

Sat 17:39 Hartley brings the leading Porsche in for fuel. Last time around he exited the pits 18s clear of Albuquerque, who then reeled him him.

In this sequence, Albuquerque is just 7s behind.

Sat 17:42 @NISMO: "The No.21 heads back out on track. @Shootstokill still at the wheel."

Sat 17:44 Milner's doing a good job in this stint to edge clear of the two Aston Martins behind. It's certainly the calmest stint so far.

Sat 17:45 Bamber sets the #19 Porsche's best lap of the race, a 3m19.140s.

Sat 17:48 After his off a little earlier, Hirsch has pitted. He stays in the #41 and rejoins the race in third, ahead of the Signatech Alpine.

Sat 17:49 For those of you following defending LMP2 winners Jota Sport, the #38 has just ticked onto the first timing screen in the media centre, having been halfway down the third after its slow stop in the first hour.

Evans is now 22nd outright, still 11th in LMP2, and two laps down on Lapierre.

Sat 17:50 Hartley's doing a much better job this time around of preventing Albuquerque making inroads before he pits the #9 Audi again.

In the previous pit cycle, a fresh-tyred Albuquerque reeled in Hartley, setting some blistering laps in the process. Things have been more measured this time, with the gap mainly flucutating between 5-7s depending on traffic.

Hartley's lead over Treluyer, which was over 50s a few laps ago, has stabilised at 45s for the past few tours.

Sat 17:51 Another pitstop complete for the #34 OAK entry, a faster one this time after the floor checks earlier in the hour. Cumming is now eighth in LMP2.

Sat 17:55 Having been 40 seconds behind Lapierre, Badey has made a pitstop in the TDS Ligier, handing over to Thiriet. The car has been jumped for third by Greaves, which pitted two laps ago. The Signatech Alpine is also in.

Sat 17:55 Treluyer continuing to do a great job in the #7 Audi. He's the fastest of the three drivers from the marque right now.

Sat 17:57 Davidson is sporting some front-right damage on the #1 Toyota, mainly to the headlight area.

Sat 17:57 This race might be swinging back the way of the #99 Aston. Rees has had two good laps, Milner two substandard laps:

Rees
3m58.269s
3m56.843s

Milner
3m59.392s
3m58.167s

The upshot is the gap is down to under four seconds. Turner's still around 10 seconds back from the leading Corvette.

Sat 17:57 Dumas is now at the wheel of the #18 Porsche, taking over from Lieb in an unscheduled stop.

Sat 17:59 Albuquerque pits, having been unable to repeat his Hartley-hassling heroics of the previous stint this time around.

Sat 18:01 Yep, the pendulum's swinging the #99's way - Rees is very close to the leading Corvette now. Less than two seconds back and surely not far from an attack.

Sat 18:02 @Scuderia_Corsa: "@townsendbell climbing positions: running P5 in his first stint."

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Sat 18:02 The #68 AAI Porsche has had a spin at the first chicane. It's eighth in GTE AM.

Sat 18:02 Davidson brings the #1 Toyota into the pits. Will the front-end damage be seen to?

Sat 18:03 The Toyota is being wheeled into the garage.

Sat 18:04 The #4 ByKolles CLM has been reported to be smoking. It's in 52nd place in the hands of Monteiro and is now in the pits.

Sat 18:05 The TV screens that the #4 CLM is indeed smoky. It as been wheeled back into the garage.

Sat 18:05 The best of the Nissans is the #22 of Krumm. It's currently in 21st place.

Sat 18:06 Don't worry about smoke, the Greaves Gibson is slowing. And it has indeed stopped on track, in the Esses with Hirsch behind the wheel. It was running second in LMP2 having jumped TDS Racing during their last pitstop cycle.

Sat 18:07 Bamber is flying the the #19 Porsche. He's not far off making a pitstop.

Sat 18:07 The front bodywork is off the #1 Toyota, but there's also lots of attention being paid to the rear-end of the car.

Sat 18:08 ‏@PorscheRaces: "#Porsche919Hybrid no 18 with short stint, slow puncture suspected, now on track with @RomainDumas."

That explains the unscheduled stop from earlier, then.

Sat 18:09 Bamber pits the #19 Porsche, as expected.

Sat 18:09 Here we go, it's taken a couple of laps, but the #99 Aston is in position to attack the #64 Corvette for the lead.

Sat 18:10 The dramas for the #18 with that suspected puncture mean it has dropped behind the #19 in the battle for fourth. Dumas is now 10s behind Bamber.

Sat 18:10 ‏@NISMO: "No.22 is back into the race after the brake change."

Sat 18:12 Treluyer had Hartley's lead down to 43s a couple of laps ago, but it's back out to 50s now, and he's only 6s ahead of the #9 Audi of Albuquerque.

Sat 18:12 Very slow first sector for Rees costs him five seconds to race leader Milner!

The #51 Ferrari has pit. Toni Vilander takes over.

Sat 18:14 Sarrazin pits the #2 Toyota, while the #1 remains in the garage being worked on after Davidson brought it in with damage.

Sat 18:15 The Greaves entry was last shown being pushed back up the hilly infield towards the fence. With that change, KCMG leads TDS Racing by 2m35s, albeit having made one fewer pitstop. The Murphy entry is third, ahead of Signatech Alpine, the #26 G-Drive entry and Team SARD Morand.

Sat 18:16 We suspected KCMG would be close to having to make a pitstop, and it has now done so, following a 12-lap stint. Lapierre stays in the ORECA 05.

Sat 18:17 @ByKOLLES: "Engine caught fire... Team is ok"

Sat 18:17 The #1 Toyota returns to the track after repairs. Davidson is out of the car, with Nakajima taking over. Remember, Nakajima was a real doubt for this race after his Spa shunt before he made a superb recovery.

Sat 18:17 The #99 Aston is likely to pit from second this lap, although the #97 in third and class-leading Corvette should go a bit longer.

Sat 18:18 The withdrawal of the slow zone has hurt race leader Hartley - he lost 21s to Treluyer last time around to the gap is now down to 29s in the battle for the lead.

Albuquerque remains 10s behind Treluyer in the #9 Audi.

Sat 18:19 As Milner continues, Rees pits in the #99 Vantage. The Brazilian's had a decent stint.

That should be fuel and tyres for the Vantage, and we expect a first stint in the race for Alex MacDowall.

Sat 18:20 Here's how the five cars on the lead lap stand:

1 #17 Porsche (Hartley)
2 #7 Audi (Treluyer), +30.440s
3 #9 Audi (Albuquerque), +41.375s
4 #19 Porsche (Bamber), +1m55.919s
5 #18 Porsche (Dumas), +2m00.245s

Sat 18:22 Treluyer pits for another tank of fuel, starting the last segment of his quadruple stint, and relinquishing second to the #9 car of Albuquerque for now.

Sat 18:22 Rees stays in the car, so Aston continues to triple-stint its drivers.

Christensen pits the Porsche and hands over to Jorg Bergmeister.

Sat 18:23 The #17 Porsche driven by Hartley that leads will be the next frontrunner in.

Sat 18:23 Turner pits the second-place #97 Aston. He's ended up a very lonely third since his spin earlier.

Sat 18:25 Hartley pits the #17 car from the lead, handing it over to Webber for his first appearance in the race.

The longer stop for the driver change means Albuquerque leads in the #9 Audi.

Sat 18:25 A call for the Larbre team manager to race control immediately. A team member got in the way of one of the Toyota LMP1s during its stop a moment ago.

Sat 18:26 In GTE Am race news, though, it's still a strong lead for the #72 SMP Ferrari ahead of the #98 Aston. Nothing else to report really.

Sat 18:26 The #17's gap to Treluyer in the #7 Audi is just 20s now, owing to that driver change. But Audi will be making a change of their own at the next stop, so things will quickly even out.

Sat 18:28 The #17 - effectively the race leader - is under investigation for overtaking during a slow zone. That must have been while Hartley was still at the wheel, because we've not had a slow zone since Webber took over.

Sat 18:28 Milner pits the GTE-leading Corvette.

Sat 18:28 The first Nissan is now some 10 laps behind leader Hartley, with the others much further down the order.

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Sat 18:28 With a flat battery behind Greaves' stoppage - the car is slowly falling down the timesheets - Lapierre has built his lead over Thiriet to 1m52s.

Signatech Alpine and Murphy are the only other LMP2 cars on the lead lap, but barely, with the bulk of the cars having made six pitstops.

Lapierre looked set to put a lap on Patterson in Murphy's ORECA down the front straight, while Panciatici is about 20 seconds up the road.

Sat 18:29 Long stop for the Corvette as Jordan Taylor jumps in to replace Milner, and that allows Aston to take a one-two: Rees in the #99 and Turner in the #97.

Sat 18:30 Di Grassi passes Albuquerque (with ease) to get the #8 Audi back on the lead lap. It's currently in sixth, a minute clear of Sarrazin in the Toyota that hasn't hit trouble (#2).

Sat 18:34 It seems like an age since Bird featured in the lead battle aboard the #26 G-Drive Ligier. He's back in the car now, after stints from Rusinov and Canal, and not wasting any time, setting its fastest lap of the day, a 3m39.787s.

He went faster again the next time around, logging a 3m39.434s. The entry is seventh, more than a lap down on KCMG, and 48 seconds behind Bird's immediate target, Cumming in the OAK Ligier. Although Cumming is now pitting.

Sat 18:36 A brief moment of comedy courtesy of the TV director, who cuts to a strange shot of a stationary Audi. After much exclamation in the media centre (and Audi's garage and hospitality units!), the shot zooms out to reveal that it's a static image on a wall of one of Audi's units here.

Relief all round on the Audi faces in the pits, and laughter in the media centre. Bravo, Mr Director.

Sat 18:39 The #22 Nissan has just done its fastest lap of the race - a 3m39.593s in the hands of Buncombe. Its currently 22nd.

Sat 18:40 Webber gets all crossed up with one of the OAK LMP2s through the esses, costing him around three seconds.

Sat 18:40 Second and third in class, Thiriet and Panciatici have pitted, with the latter handing over the Signatech Alpine to Capillaire.

Through that, Patterson has moved into third and Lapierre leads by 2m41s.

Meanwhile, TV cameras appear to have caught the two OAK Ligiers in interesting moments - the #35 trying not to get in Webber's way too much, and Cumming having a half-spin in the #34.

Sat 18:41 ‏@oliverjameswebb: "Starting the race was amazing. Back in in 1 hour. We are currently P5."

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Sat 18:42 Di Grassi pits the #8 Audi from sixth, having got it back on the lead lap.

Sat 18:43 What is there to report in GTE Pro? The #99 car is streaking clear, thanks to easily Rees's strongest of his three consecutive stints.

Taylor's bringing the #64 Corvette back into the fight for second, and isn't far behind the #97 Aston, in which Turner seems to be struggling slightly.

Sat 18:43 The lead has changed in GTE Am, thanks to the fifth pitstop for the #72 Ferrari - which puts the #98 Aston back to first.

Sat 18:43 GARY WATKINS: Dumas has just completed a 14-lap stint in the #18 Porsche under green flag conditions. His quest to stretch the fuel was, however, helped by a couple of slow zones during that stint.

Sat 18:46 Albuquerque comes in for his final tank of fuel in this quadruple stint, handing the lead back to the #17 Porsche with Webber at the wheel.

Sat 18:46 Webber (#17) leads Treluyer (#7) by +12s, with Albuquerque (#9) +17s to the leader.

Let's see if the ex-F1 man can keep those Audis at bay.

Sat 18:47 Taylor's all over Turner for second; the #74 Corvette will surely be past the #97 Aston before long.

Sat 18:48 Treluyer has made up almost seven seconds on leader Webber over the past three laps.

Sat 18:49 Taylor's through, the Corvette's into second at the expense of the #97 Aston.

Sat 18:49 Heidfeld has just banged in the fastest lap for the #12 Rebellion - a 3m27.996s. The car is in eighth place.

Sat 18:49 ‏@VanthoorLaurens: "That moment when they scream: 'In the car this lap !!! ... Okay no, false alarm.' Simply hate it."

Sat 18:50 TV shows a brief shot of Hirsch, still in his racesuit but with his helmet off, half-sitting in the Greaves Gibson getting to work on what looked like a battery.

Lots of unscrewing (or screwing, it was a brief shot) going on, the car is now 18th in LMP2, a long, long way down.

Sat 18:50 The #99 Aston has a 22-second lead over the #64 Corvette as we approach the end of the sixth hour. By GTE standards this is rather spaced out.

Pace-wise, it looks as though Turner's struggling on old rubber back in third. But without seeing the pitstops it's too risky to say for sure Taylor's on newer boots.

Sat 18:51 While Treluyer is closing in on Webber in the #17 Porsche that leads, the #7 Audi will lose time relative to the Porsche at the next pitstops. Treluyer is in the final part of a quadruple stint, so will lose a little over 15 seconds as the car gets fresh rubber and a fresh driver in the form of Fassler.

Sat 18:53 At the front of the field, having led the class by about two-and-a-half minutes, Lapierre has pitted in the KCMG ORECA. He's handed over to Howson - strong stint by Lapierre, making it count while several teams had their silver-rated drivers behind the wheel.

Sat 18:53 Treluyer has made up 11.737s on Webber in the last five laps.

Sat 18:54 While KCMG pitted, Cumming spun at what looked like Indianapolis. The Honda-powered OAK had been seventh in LMP2.

Sat 18:55 It's been a horrid race for the #4 Team ByKolles entry. And the CLM is suffering more problems...

@ByKOLLES: "Back in pit :( again the Engine..."

Sat 18:59 @karunchandhok: "Pretty low stress triple stint, just the way you want it ! Got us up to P3. Top two cars too fast for us to fight - battle on to secure P3."

Sat 18:59 An update on the problems that forced the #1 Toyota into the garage for more than 13 minutes earlier. As well as the bodywork damage we could see, the rear suspension needed work too.

Sat 18:59 @Daniel_Abt: "Good first 3 hour stint for me. Car is running fine after the early problem so we'll keep pushing. Crazy experience out there."

Sat 19:01 As we wait for the Audis to make their driver changes when they next come in, both are closing fast on Webber.

1 #17 Porsche
2 #7 Audi +1.6s
3 #9 Audi +9.1s

Sat 19:02 Conway takes over the #2 Toyota - in a distant 7th - from Sarrazin.

Sat 19:03 Treluyer passes Webber for the lead into Turn 1. Audi #7 leads.

Albuquerque is still 10s back in third with the #9 R18.

Sat 19:05 Webber was bizarrely easy meat down the main straight for Treluyer, especially considering the punch we expect from the Porsche out of the corners.

Sat 19:06 Treluyer's time out front is short-lived - he pits the #7 Audi from the lead (on schedule) to hand over to Fassler.

Webber is back in the lead, still 10s ahead of Albuquerque.

Sat 19:07 Following Cumming's spin, the Honda-powered OAK has dropped from seventh to 11th. Vanthoor is now back behind the wheel of the car, which is three laps down.

Sat 19:07 ‏Hirsch is still working on the Greaves Motorsport Gibson.

@gary_hirsch: "I'm trying to repare the car for 50 minutes. We have the spirit of Le Mans in our blood and all the team..."

Sat 19:08 Olivier Beretta pits in the #71 Ferrari. That car was in the lead battle a couple of stints ago but Beretta has not had the pace to remain in contention and has slipped back quite a lot.

Sat 19:09 With a quarter of the race done, KCMG leads LMP2 by 1m41s over Thiriet in the TDS Racing entry. Capillaire is third for Signatech Alpine, a similar margin back again, while Murphy Prototypes and Team SARD Morand and the #26 G-Drive (OAK) complete the current top six.

Sat 19:09 ‏@Audi__Sport: "1/4 completed and the #LEMANS lives up to expectations with another epic battle between #Audi und @PorscheRaces."

di Grassi Le Mans 2015

Sat 19:10 Webber brings the leading #17 Porsche in. Albuquerque takes the #9 Audi into the lead, but in a few laps time he will pit to bring an impressive quadruple stint to a close.

Sat 19:11 GARY WATKINS: That's another 14-lap stint from Porsche courtesy of Mark Webber.

Sat 19:11 Vilander's on his merry way and will leapfrog the #71 in doing so, because that Ferrari appears to still be in the pits!

That's the second time a 458 Italia has remained in the AF Corse box for much longer than it should...

Sat 19:11 LMP1 leaders:

1 #9 Audi (Albuquerque)
2 #17 Porsche (Webber
3 #7 Audi (Fassler)
4 #18 Porsche (Dumas)
5 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg)

Sat 19:11 Webber averaged a 3m23.038s on uninterrupted laps during the first part of what should be a triple stint.

Sat 19:12 While the #7 Audi briefly passed Webber for the lead before its stop, remember that because it completed a driver change, it lost more time in the pits than the Porsche this time around, so Webber is now clearly ahead of it by 23s.

Sat 19:12 Hulkenberg is flying in the #19 Porsche. Over the last three laps, he has been the fastest driver on track.

Sat 19:14 P3 Fassler is 58s behind the leading #9 Audi. So when Albuquerque comes in and that car makes a driver change, Fassler should move the #7 back ahead, as things were before the last pitstop sequence began.

Sat 19:16 Current TV footage is focusing on KCMG's Howson, catching and looking to put a lap on the third-placed Signatech Alpine, which has Capillaire behind the wheel.

Sat 19:17 The GTE Pro leader is in, and that's a fine three stints from Fernando Rees. The Brazilian vacates his #99 Aston Martin, which gets a new set of boots and then heads out in the hands of Alex MacDowall.

Rees Le Mans 2015

Sat 19:18 Howson gets the job done as Thiriet pits in the second-placed TDS Racing ORECA.

Elsewhere, Bird is back up to fifth and Vanthoor has set a new fastest lap for the #34 OAK, a 3m39.601s.

Sat 19:21 Fassler has slipped to 1m01s behind Albuquerque. That's still just about a small enough gap to mean that the #9 Audi will slot back into third after its driver change.

Sat 19:22 Turner pits from second in the #97 Vantage, which means Rob Bell will step in, the car will get new tyres and...yep, it's on its way. Rejoins behind the #99, as you'd expect.

Sat 19:24 The #71 Ferrari has finally resumed, with Calado back in the seat - but its pitstop stay was so lengthy the #95 Aston has now overtaken it.

Sat 19:24 LMP1 leaders:

1 #9 Audi (Albuquerque)
2 #17 Porsche (Webber), +42s
3 #7 Audi (Fassler), +59s

Sat 19:24 In comes Taylor in the Corvette. It will be interesting to see where the class leader comes back out...

Sat 19:25 Dumas pits the #18 Porsche having been around 15-16s behind third-placed Fassler beforehand. Hulkenberg moves the #19 car into P4.

Sat 19:26 Bird's progress continues, he takes fourth place from Patterson.

Sat 19:26 The Corvette emerges ahead of the #99 Aston, but there's only a few seconds between them in the fight for the lead.

Sat 19:26 Di Grassi pits the sixth-placed #8 Audi, handing it over to Jarvis.

Sat 19:27 Signatech Alpine, Team SARD Morand and Jota have all completed stops, they occupy third, sixth and ninth in LMP2.

Sat 19:31 Albuquerque pits from the lead in the #9 Audi. Out he gets after that quadruple stint, handing over to Rast.

The length of the stop means Webber is back in the lead with the #17 Porsche, and Fassler moves up to second - 15.7s off the lead - in the #7 Audi.

The #9 is 32s off the lead in Rast's hands, just ahead of Hulkenberg in the #19 Porsche.

Sat 19:32 Hulkenberg is averaging 3m21.032s in the current stint.

Sat 19:32 Impossible to rule out any of the five GTE Pro cars that haven't had a major drama.

Even the #51 Ferrari, which lost quite a bit of time in the pits for reasons unknown to us, has just about managed to get itself back on the lead lap.

And even though Porsche lacks the outright pace of the other marques, it's within two minutes of the lead.

All to play for.

Sat 19:33 Nissan sounds surprised...

@NISMO: "After 6 hours, all 3 cars still running."

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Sat 19:35 So, the LMP1 battles at the moment:

Webber is fending off a 15-second lead over Fassler, while behind them, Rast has Hulkenberg for company at the start of his first stint in the race.

Sat 19:35 Albuquerque averaged 3m22.861s in that last run - remember, it was the final part of a quadruple stint so hardly fresh rubber.

Sat 19:35 Hulkenberg breezes past Rast on the Mulsanne straight, moving the #19 Porsche up to third.

Sat 19:36 If you're following us trackside, on the mobile site or app, probably best you don't end up checking this place out.

@24hoursoflemans: Spectators Medical Center



Sat 19:39 Hulkenberg makes his first stop of this stint, having looked pretty strong so far in this run. That drops the #19 Porsche back behind the #18, by 1.6s.

Sat 19:39 Mighty stint from Hulkenberg there - average lap was a 3m21.164s

Sat 19:44 Webber's lead was stable around 15-16s over Fassler, but he's lost out badly in the final sector with traffic, allowing the Audi to close the lead to 12s this time around.

Rast sits third in the #9 Audi, 32s off the lead.

Sat 19:45 Fassler is doing a good job in his first stint, averaging 3m21.766s, with his last lap in the 3m19s.

Sat 19:45 A pair of front-running pitstops. Howson stops for KCMG, with another 12-lap stint in the book, while Bird pits from fourth. He's rejoined behind Patterson in the Murphy entry.

Sat 19:46 In his first stint, Jarvis averaged 3m23.038s. His second stint is significantly more rapid.

Sat 19:47 Some distance from pitlane, work is continuing on the stricken Greaves Gibson. A number of mechanics have headed over towards the Esses in a bit to help Hirsch find a battery within the car that will be an adequate substitute for the failed primary battery.

It's been likened to attempts to get back to earth in Apollo 13 (sorry for a potential spoiler if you haven't seen the film), with a flurry of power sources being turned off, changed and then back on again.

Sat 19:50 A potential spanner in KCMG's so-far smooth works? It's under a pitstop investigation.

Sat 19:50 ‏@Audi__Sport: "Too close to call: Just 10 seconds between the leading Porsche No. 17 and Audi No. 7 Marcel Fässler Thrilling first quarter of the race."

Sat 19:50 Fassler smells blood, and Webber's lead is down to 10s as the Audi puts in a second 3m19s lap in a row.

Sat 19:51 Over the last five laps of that stint, Fassler took a second a lap out of Webber.

Sat 19:51 The pursuit of Webber is put on hold - Fassler pits the #7 on schedule. Rast, 35s off the lead, inherits second in the #9 Audi.

Sat 19:52 Speaking of pitstops, the Murphy squad has pitted again, with Berthon getting back aboard the team's ORECA 03R, in place of Patterson.

He was pretty happy with his run to start the race earlier this afternoon.

"I am very happy with my first stint. It could not have gone better," he sad.

"I didn'’t have to push, made sure I didn'’t clip any kerbs hard and drove as sympathetically as possible to save on fuel and tyres.

"Even so, I was still able to make up places. It’’s just the way we wanted to start this race.”"

Sat 19:53 Fassler's average during that stint was a 3m21.601s. By contrast, Webber's in the #17 Porsche was 3m22.459s.

Sat 19:54 Davidson takes the blame for the damage that has cost the #1 Toyota a lot of time:

"I have to put my hands up; it was my fault. I touched a Ferrari going through the Porsche Curves trying to carry momentum. It was bodywork to bodywork, corner to corner.

"A slight misjudgment in the timing meant that it peeled off my right front bodywork which ruined the balance of the car. I should have pitted really but I carried on pushing to save the time so I could at least run until the end of the stint.

"It just understeered on me in turn six [end of the esses]. I touched the grass and sideswiped the barrier which bent something on the left rear suspension.

"I am annoyed with myself. Thanks to the crew for repairing the car quickly and getting us back into the race."

Davidson Le Mans 2015

Sat 19:55 Webber brings the race-leading #17 Porsche in, handing the lead to Rast in the #9 car.

More importantly, Webber's quicker stop (by four seconds) has helped him extend his gap to Fassler in this pitstop cycle, so he's 19s clear of the #7 Audi now.

Sat 19:57 Webber's average pace during the stint he just finished was a 3m22.459s - so about eight-tenths slower than Fassler managed in the #7 Audi.

Sat 19:59 The #91 Porsche pits, Bergmeister stays in and then continues on his way. That car's still fourth.

Sat 19:59 Confirmation that the #41 Greaves LMP2 car has retired now.

@Greavesmsport: "We have retired due to battery problems. @gary_hirsch did an amazing job of trying to rewire the car with the team trackside instructing him."

Sat 20:00 Here's how it stands at the front:

1 #9 Audi (Rast)
2 #17 Porsche (Webber), +12.193s
3 #7 Audi (Fassler), +31.380s
4 #18 Porsche (Dumas), +43.013s
5 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg), +43.850s

Sat 20:01 Of the five on the lead lap, the next one due into the pits is the #18 Porsche.

Sat 20:01 Bell's had a great stint in the #97 Aston and that, combined with a poor run from MacDowall, means the two Vantages are probably about to swap places.

When released, Bell should be less than 10 seconds behind the leading Corvette.

Sat 20:02 @NISMO: "22:01. No.23 into the garage with a loose brake duct. Will be fixed soon."

Sat 20:02 There we go, almost as we write that Bell passes MacDowall and takes second. He's comfortably been the fastest GTE this stint.

Sat 20:04 The #8 Audi is currently a lap down in sixth place, a consequence of Duval's shunt when caught out by cars slowing for a slow zone early in the race.

Sat 20:04 A pair of pitstops for the LMP2 front-runners. KMCMG, which leads by about two minutes, has been in for fuel, while TDS has stopped and replaced Thiriet with Gommendy.

Sat 20:05 Dumas has gone straight on in dramatic fashion at Mulsanne corner. He had a big lock up but still made it to the barrier - that looked like a failure of some sort.

Sat 20:05 The #18 Porsche is back on track, surely returning to the pits. That was a scary moment.

Sat 20:07 Dumas - who has fallen behind Hulkenberg and drops to fifth - pits, roughly on schedule. Jani hops in, and the team changes tyres.

Off comes the front bodywork, and in a matter of seconds a new one is fitted and the car is sent on its way. If it only suffered minor front-end damage, that's a lucky escape.

Sat 20:08 Dumas's pace during that recent run, the final part of a triple stint, was 3m22.341s. Obviously, he undid a lot of that work with his off at Mulsanne Corner.

Sat 20:08 Jarvis, in the #8 Audi that's a lap down in sixth, is showing decent pace. He's averaging 3m21.483s in this stint.

Sat 20:12 Lead gaps in LMP1:

1 #9 Audi (Rast)
2 #17 Porsche (Webber), +17.6s
3 #7 Audi (Fassler), +33.1s
4 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg), +46.2s

Sat 20:13 The Krohn Ligier has come to a halt on Mulsanne. It's now going again, and the yellow flag will be withdrawn we assume.

Sat 20:14 ‏@NISMO: "As the No.23 is in for brake duct, we are taking the opportunity to change front brakes."

Sat 20:16 Rast brings the #9 Audi in, meaning Webber leads from Fassler again out front (by 18s - remember, it was 10s before both cars pitted last time).

Hulkenberg moves the #19 Porsche into third, with Rast rejoining in fourth.

Sat 20:16 Average pace for the cars on the lead lap during their last completed stints:

1 Hulkenberg, 3m21.164s
2 Fassler, 3m21.601s
3 Webber, 3m22.459s
4 Dumas, 3m22.082s
5 Albuquerque, 3m32.537s

Sat 20:19 The two Aston Martin frontrunners have stopped. Actually, they are on their way again - #97 still ahead of #99.

Sat 20:19 At the front of LMP2, KCMG still leads TDS by 2m29s, with Howson and Gommendy behind the wheel. Bird is third, while Chatin is back in the Signatech Alpine and fourth, ahead of Berthon.

Sat 20:20 Hulkenberg, currently on his second time in the car and in the middle-stint of a triple, just banged in a 3m19.862s. Doing an excellent job.

Sat 20:21 More troubles for Nissan:

@NISMO: "No. 21 in garage for some checks to the clutch & rear suspension."

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Sat 20:22 And the leading Corvette pits. As mentioned previously, Bell's been pushing very hard and has put together a handy stint. There shouldn't be much between the #74 Corvette and #97 Aston at all.

Sat 20:22 Hulkenberg's performance in this stint has taken the #19 car from the fringes of the lead fight to very much make it a factor.

The fact that all of the lead cars are relatively out of sync on pitstops means that it's hard to tell how the race is shaking out at the moment, but it seems that at least the #17 + #19 Porsches, plus #7 + #9 Audis, are in the mix right now.

And here comes Hulkenberg for another stop, on schedule.

Sat 20:23 A subplot to Greaves Motorsport's retirement is that Gaetan Paletou won't get behind the wheel to make his Le Mans race debut. Last year's Nissan GT Academy winner started his maiden race 10 months ago, but won't be adding to his tally today.

The resident dog in the AUTOSPORT house is actually called Gaetan. It's only a young puppy, too, less than a year old, so we can only assume its owners are already big fans of the young French driver.

Sat 20:24 Webber leads Fassler by 16s out front. That gap has come in a little bit, but nowhere near to the extent it did in the previous stint, when Fassler was on a mission and had the lead down to 10s before he pitted.

Sat 20:24 A pitstop down at G-Drive (OAK), Bird has stepped out of the Ligier and Rusinov is back in,

Sat 20:25 Hulkenberg's stint was at an average pace of 3m22.170s. Good pace for the middle part of a triple.

Sat 20:26 There are six seconds between Taylor in the first-placed Corvette and Bell who is chasing him in the #97 Aston.

Sat 20:29 @KrohnRacing: "Working on a possible ECU problem. In garage."

Sat 20:30 Hulkenberg still flying in the third part of his triple stint - first flying lap is a 3m20.622s. Nobody else is going faster than 3m22.4s.

Sat 20:31 ‏@sambirdracing: "Back in after a fun stint. We are gaining ground now. :) long way to go."

Sat 20:33 Webber just banged in the second-fastest lap of his stint, a tenth off his fastest. Seems to be getting stronger as his triple stint progresses.

Sat 20:34 Since Dumas's off at the end of the Mulsanne straight delayed the #18 Porsche, we've got a four-car race on our hands really (although the #18 is still on the lead lap).

1 #17 Porsche (Webber)
2 #7 Audi (Fassler), +19s
3 #9 Audi (Rast), +34s
4 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg), +1m07s

Sat 20:34 Bell is now just 2.5s behind Taylor. His progress has been great: here are the average laptimes for the previous stint. It shows just how strong Bell's been, and how poor MacDowall's been:

Taylor (11 laps): 2m39.8s
Bell (12 laps): 2m38.0s
MacDowall (11 laps): 2m40.5s

Admittedly that was with Taylor on his second stint on those tyres - but if you look at the Corvette's first stint, it's still 0.8s a lap slower on average.

Sat 20:36 Fassler brings the #7 Audi in from second, on schedule after 13 laps. He's about to start his third stint.

Sat 20:37 Jota continues to push on, eighth and three laps down. Turvey has set a new fastest lap for the car, 3m39.055s.

At the front of the field, Howson and Gommendy are continuing their marches, with KCMG holding a 2m25s advantage.

Sat 20:39 Another pitstop completed for Murphy, Berthon remains in the car, dropping from fourth to fifth behind Rusinov.

Sat 20:39 Some troubled laps for Bell, who has dropped significantly behind Taylor - the gap's 11.8s now.

Sat 20:40 Webber brings the #17 Porsche in from the lead, meaning Rast's #9 Audi will take over at the front. No driver or tyre change, so that's Porsche's first attempt at a quadruple stint.

Sat 20:40 The Signatech Alpine is off at the end of Mulsanne. Chatin is behind the wheel, the car had been in third place in LMP2.

Sat 20:41 We have another safety car period.

Sat 20:42 This is the third safety car of the race so far.

Sat 20:44 Gommendy, second in LMP2, is taking this opportunity to pit.

Sat 20:45 Great news - the leaders in LMP1 are all in the same safety car group. They were covered by 46 seconds beforehand, but now it's just 10s (at reduced pace).

Order:

1 #9 Audi (Rast)
2 #17 Porsche (Webber)
3 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg)
4 #7 Audi (Fassler)

Sat 20:47 Howson pits the next time around, handing over to Bradley, as does Jota with Turvey.

Sat 20:50 The safety car has closed the first four GTE Pro cars together – so that's a pain for Corvette, a reprieve for Aston Martin and just reward for Porsche for hanging in there.

Sat 20:53 Things only get worse for ByKolles:

@ByKOLLES: "We stopped again with some Engine problems, need a longer repair."

Sat 20:55 Assuming we've not gone mental Ferrari will gain from this as well – the #51 car might not be fortunate enough to be in the lead group, but it should go from almost a lap down to about three-quarter's of a lap behind.

Sat 20:55 Also work going on down at Nissan

@NISMO: "Taking advantage of the safety car to replace a sensor under the bonnet on the No.22."

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Sat 20:56 Among the frontrunners, the next car that will need a fuel stop is the #18 Porsche that runs fifth in the hands of Jani.

Sat 21:00 It's interesting to compare the two old F1 rivals in the Porsche teams. Both have been on track at similar time (Webber is in the fourth part of a quadruple stint, Hulkenberg in the third part), but looking at the first 26 complete laps of their respective runs, the German gains a minute on Webber. Massively impressive performance on his Le Mans debut.

Sat 21:02 When the safety cars pull in, slow zones are going to be enforced at Mulsanne Corner.

Sat 21:04 Richard Lietz drops away from the lead group as he makes the #91 Porsche's eighth stop under the safety car.

Others will follow suit, but will they get in before the caution ends?

Sat 21:05 The safety cars leave the circuit, we're racing again.

Sat 21:06 As the leaders cross the line, Rast leads Webber by 0.7s, Hulkenberg by 1.5s, and Fassler (further back in the queue) by 5.2s.

Sat 21:07 Trouble already at the restart, Maris in the #35 OAK Racing Ligier is around before the final chicane. He continues.

Sat 21:09 Bell is attacking Taylor at the head of GTE Pro, while MacDowall has made way for Stanaway.

So we've gone from four at the front to two quite quickly. Also, the Ferrari appears to have gained nothing from this safety car - looks as though the #51 is actually only just ahead of the two battling for the lead on track.

Sat 21:10 Webber gets delayed by a Nissan in the final chicane, allowing Rast to ease away and putting Hulkenberg right on his tail in the battle for second.

Sat 21:10 Pitstop after the restart for Team SARD Morand, with Webb climbing aboard the Morgan, which was fifth in the LMP2 order.

Sat 21:11 Hulkenberg eases by Webber for second on the run to the first Mulsanne chicane. Now, can the much faster of the two leading Porsches do anything about the #9 Audi just a couple of seconds up the road?

Sat 21:12 Those delays for Webber have also enabled Fassler to catch the two Porsches back up.

Sat 21:13 Before the safety car, KCMG was about 2m25s ahead of Gommendy in the TDS entry, after the delay and two flying laps it's 2m29s.

Speaking of the KCMG entry, it's one of the harder to pick through our window on the front straight, with its dark blue and chrome livery.

Sat 21:13 ‏It looks like we've got another retirement, this time from GTE Am with the #50 Larbre Chevrolet Corvette encountering car troubles:

@PaoloRuberti: "Race over..gearbox problems..!!"

Sat 21:14 Jani pits the #18 Porsche, which after the safety car split found itself 3m15s off the lead. It's just about going to fall off of the lead lap here, in P5.

Sat 21:15 The #97 Aston Martin has stopped at Mulsanne Corner!

Sat 21:15 Hulkenberg is already heading off down the road, while Webber still very much has Fassler for company in a fight for third.

Sat 21:17 Another update from the troubled Nissan team:

‏@NISMO: "The front bodywork is ready to go back on. Not long now for the No.21."

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Sat 21:17 Bell pulled off down the escape road and parked the smoking Vantage safely out of harm's way.

Devastating for that car, but more importantly: two Astons out of contention, one remaining...

Are things coming up Corvette?

Sat 21:18 Rast pits the #9 Audi from the lead, handing P1 to Hulkenberg. Meanwhile, Webber cannot shake the attention of Fassler.

Bonanomi Le Mans 2015

Sat 21:19 Certainly seems like that's an engine failure of sizeable proportions for the #97 Aston, with oil being reported down at Mulsanne Corner.

Sat 21:19 We've only had three official retirements posted so far:

#92 Porsche - engine
#88 Porsche - engine
#41 Gibson - electrical

Sat 21:20 Leader Hulkenberg gets stuck behind a GTE car heading into the Mulsanne Corner slow zone, meaning Webber and Fassler are back on terms with him as they pass the green flags. A three-way fight for the lead, then.

Sat 21:21 ‏@AMR_Official: "Unfortunate news. Our #97 Vantage GTE has stopped out on track and will not return. It's a bitter disappointment for the team."

Sat 21:22 Hulkenberg quickly builds a cushion over Webber of more than two seconds, so once again the #17 Porsche's attention turns to keeping third-placed Fassler at bay.

Sat 21:24 Gommendy is chipping away at KCMG's lead, he's now 2m18s behind. Not right behind, but enough to keep the pressure on.

The #34 OAK Ligier has pitted again, with Vanthoor getting out and Estre getting in.

Sat 21:29 Hulkenberg stretches his lead over Webber and Fassler to past 5s.

Further back, following his stop Rast is 59s adrift in the #9 Audi, so he'll be right in the mix when the other cars come in.

Sat 21:29 And here comes the first of the leaders - Hulkenberg pits on schedule, taking fuel only. He follows Webber in switching to a quadruple stint.

Sat 21:30 Rusinov has been in and our of the pits in the lead G-Drive (OAK) entry, relinquishes third to Berthon in the Murphy ORECA, which has actually made two fewer stops to this point in the race.

Sat 21:30 The Mulsanne Corner slow zone has been removed.

Sat 21:31 Hulkenberg rejoins the action in third, six seconds ahead of Rast.

Webber leads Fassler by 0.3s in the other Porsche v Audi fight.

Sat 21:32 Penalty for Porsche #17! Webber's car has been given a one-minute stop/go for overtaking under yellow flags.

Sat 21:34 A drive-through penalty for the LMP2-leading KCMG entry has also popped up on the screens. An investigation into a pitstop was announced just under two hours ago.

As it stands, Bradley leads Gommendy by 1m57s.

Sat 21:34 ‏@Scuderia_Corsa: "Very good @JeffSegal, you are the fastest car on track now #GTE-Am."

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Sat 21:35 KCMG wastes no time serving the drive-through, Bradley is back out on track.

Sat 21:36 So, here's how it stands pre-Webber serving the penalty in the leading Porsche:

1 #17 Porsche
2 #7 Audi, +1.805s
3 #19 Porsche, +41.979s
4 #9 Audi, +46.711s

Sat 21:37 The #22 Nissan is still lapping down in 20th place with Tincknell at the wheel. He's lapping around 19s off the pace at the moment.

Sat 21:37 Fassler is still breathing down Webber's neck in the battle for the lead.

Sat 21:38 @KrohnRacing: "Diagnosis: Electrical problem @Onroak @JuddPower #Ligier replaced electrical components."

Sat 21:38 Fassler is right on the back of Webber at Arnage. But Webber puts the power down and edges away again.

Sat 21:38 The Corvette pits, and Gavin's in for Taylor. Where will it feed out in relation to the Aston?

Sat 21:39 Both Webber and Fassler have dived into the pits.

Sat 21:39 Webber parks the #17 Porsche in the pit box, serving a 60-second penalty for passing under yellows. That minute is going to feel like an age...

Sat 21:40 The answer is: Stanaway leads! The #99 retakes top spot in GTE Pro, with Gavin someway behind.

Now, in theory they've both made the same number of stops. But as the #99 was brought in early to relieve MacDowall, it is staggered slightly.

The bottom line is it's fascinating. Don't worry about that.

Sat 21:40 Fassler, meanwhile, is getting a top up and will continue on his way.

Sat 21:40 New fastest lap in LMP2, set by Turvey in the recovering Jota Gibson, a 3m38.406s.

Sat 21:40 All of this gives the lead back to the #19 Porsche of Hulkenberg.

Sat 21:40 Webber rejoins after his penalty.

Sat 21:41 Having served his drive-through penalty, Bradley leads Gommendy by 1m23.242s.

Sat 21:41 Hulkenberg's lead over Rast is 4.370s.

Sat 21:43 Obviously Turvey didn't have a lot of fuel on board when he set that time, the Jota entry is in for a pitstop. Rejoins, but loses seventh to Strakka Racing.

Berthon has also pitted from third, handing that position back to the #26 G-Drive entry. No driver change there either.

Sat 21:44 Webber pits again in the #17 Porsche, this time for a full service and to hand over to Bernhard.

Sat 21:45 Rast's doing a good job in the #9 Audi. This is only his second Le Mans start, the first coming last year when he raced the Sebastien Loeb Racing ORECA and came home fourth in LMP2. He was among the stars of the secondary prototype class that year.

Rast Le Mans 2015

Sat 21:45 Gommendy heads to pitlane in LMP2. He's straight back out, continuing his stint.

Sat 21:47 Bradley pits on the very next lap. Straight in and out for fuel as well.

Sat 21:47 Hulkenberg is extending his lead in the #19 Porsche. He's now 6.8s clear of the #9 Audi driven by Rast. Hulkenberg is in the final leg of a quadruple stint, while Rast is in part three of a similarly-lengthed run.

Sat 21:48 Turner is clearly devastated his race ended in retirement:

‏@DarrenTurner007: "That really hurts. Massive disappointment for #97"

Sat 21:48 Now that the #17 Porsche has served its time penalty and made its stop, it's in fourth place and 2m11s of the lead.

Sat 21:51 He's on new tyres, but Stanaway is putting together a superb run as he extends the #99 Aston's lead beyond half a minute.

3m58.397s
3m58.125s
3m58.096s
3m57.423s
3m56.264s

That's the best of any of the top four.

Sat 21:51 The gap between the top two is ebbing and flowing. Rast took time out of Hulkenberg last time round to bring it back to five seconds.

Sat 21:52 It's important to remember that there are Toyotas in this race. Currently, the #2 car is in seventh in the hands of Wurz, with the #1 car driven by Buemi in eighth. The Toyota doesn't have the pace to be a factor without the Porsches and Audis hitting trouble.

Sat 21:53 A new personal best for the #99 Aston as Stanaway sets a 3m55.666s.

Sat 21:54 It's also worth giving a quick nod to the privateer Rebellion squad, which runs ninth and 10th with its ORECA-designed, AER-powered R-One. Remember, last year a Rebellion finished fourth.

Sat 21:54 Yet more troubles for Nissan.

@NISMO: "No.22 in the garage. Same pesky ACO sensor as before playing up."

Sat 21:55 More LMP2 pitstops, this time for Team SARD Morand and the second G-Drive entry, currently fifth and sixth in LMP2.

Sat 21:55 Jani is flying in the #18 Porsche. He's just set a 3m18.917s, comfortably the fastest on track.

Sat 21:56 The #19 Porsche leads the #9 Audi by 6 seconds. In third, the #7 Audi is only 22s off the lead.

Sat 21:58 Stanaway leads GTE by 43s.

Lietz pits the Porsche from third.

Sat 22:00 It's now midnight, and while the #19 Porsche of Hulkenberg leads the Le Mans 24 Hours with nine hours in the books, AUTOSPORT's Gary Watkins is now officially celebrating his birthday!

Sat 22:00 The #18 Porsche of Jani heads into the pits for fuel.

Sat 22:02 Hot pace up front - Hulkenberg does a 3m20.336s but Rast in the chasing #9 Audi does a 3m18.365s. Interestingly, it's the third cars at Audi and Porsche that are scrapping for the lead.

Sat 22:02 The #22 Nissan has lost its engine cover with Tincknell at the wheel. Problem, or bold new design concept? You decide.

It's running 21st and is the best placed of the Nissans.

Sat 22:03 Replays show that the front bodywork was lost as a result of hitting debris. So not anything to do with the Nissan really. It's being wheeled into the garage.

Sat 22:04 Meanwhile, Rast has brought the second-placed #9 Audi into the pits.

Sat 22:05 Race control warns of oil on the track in the vicinity of Indianapolis. The corner, not the circuit. That's about 4000 miles away.

Sat 22:07 Exciting times at Rebellion, where the #13 Rebellion is about to set its fastest lap in the hands of Imperatori.

Sat 22:07 Stanaway pits in the Aston Martin, and Gavin takes the lead in the #64 Corvette.

Sat 22:09 Currently in the hot-seats of the leading cars:

#19 Porsche - Hulkenberg
#7 Audi - Fassler
#9 Audi - Rast
#17 Porsche - Bernhard
#18 Porsche - Jani
#8 Audi - Jarvis
#2 Toyota - Wurz
#1 Toyota - Buemi

Sat 22:09 The #23 Nissan has stopped on track with Pla at the wheel.

Sat 22:10 And Imperatori sets the #13 Rebellion's fastest lap, a 3m27.501s. Not bad at all for a private LMP1 effort.

Sat 22:13 Hulkenberg leads Fassler by 30s, and Rast by 56s. Bernhard is 2m21s back in fourth place.

Sat 22:15 Hulkenberg pits, handing the #19 Porsche over to Tandy after a stellar night stint that has put that car firmly back in the mix.

It's an Audi 1-2 out front now, Fassler (#7) leads Rast (#9) by 26s. Tandy rejoins third, 42s off the lead.

Sat 22:18 Derani just sets his fastest lap of the race for the #28 G-Drive Ligier with a 3m41.056s. He still lies sixth, some two minutes behind the next car.

Sat 22:19 Beche is touring back to the pits in the #13 Rebellion (9th). He was on an outlap, but now the car is wheeled into the garage.

Sat 22:20 Surprise, surprise - another Nissan is in the pits.

@NISMO: "No.23 pits with an issue. Diagnosis underway."

Sat 22:21 Bernhard dips into the 3m19s as the quest to get the #17 back in the mix after that stop/go penalty ramps up. He's fourth, but one minute behind the #19 car of Tandy that is currently third.

Sat 22:22 Fassler leads Rast by 30s, and it looks like the leader is about to hand the #7 over to Lotterer, who is warming-up in the Audi garage and getting some final instructions from engineers.

Sat 22:25 Gavin has a lead of 30 seconds over Stanaway - that's the #64 Corvette to the #99 Aston, if you weren't aware.

Lietz and Fisichella, in for Bruni, are third and fourth still.

Sat 22:25 Berthon pits the #48 Murphy ORECA from third in LMP2. He should be able to complete the stop without losing a position.

Sat 22:25 The #7 Audi comes in. If all goes well, it should slot back into third place, ahead of Bernhard in the #17 Porsche. That'll leave Rast in the lead from Tandy.

Lotterer is now at the wheel.

Sat 22:26 Rast leads Tandy by 25s, with Lotterer back on track +48s to the leader.

Sat 22:26 Gommendy is also in now from second in class. Bradley's advantage at this point was a minute-and-a-half.

Sat 22:28 The #48 ORECA does in fact lose a couple of places in the stops as there's a driver change with Chandhok taking the driving seat.

Badey is now in the #46 Thiriet machine.

Sat 22:30 Bernhard pits the #17 car from fourth place for another tank of fuel.

Sat 22:30 The #37 SMP BRE has been given the black/orange flag for not having its rear lights on.

Sat 22:31 Another downbeat Nissan update.

@NISMO: "Unfortunately the No.22 sustained quite a lot of damage when it hit the debris so may be in the pits some time."

Sat 22:33 LMP2 leader Bradley now pits in the #46 KCMG ORECA. With all the stops, his advantage stretched to over a lap but that will have reduced now.

Sat 22:34 The GTE Pro leader is in the pits: Gavin brings the #64 Corvette down the pitlane.

Stanaway takes the lead back in the Aston Martin.

Sat 22:36 There's a problem for the #27 SMP Racing BRE car as it is wheeled into the garage.

Sat 22:37 Out front, Rast leads Tandy by 20s, with Lotterer 44s off the lead.

It's a three-car race at the moment, with Bernhard trying to make up for the one-minute penalty the #17 car picked up earlier for overtaking under yellow flags. He's 2m14s off the lead at the moment.

Sat 22:40 As Bradley remained in the car, the #47 KCMG machine has extended its advantage over the #46 car to two minutes now.

Sat 22:41 Lietz jumped Gavin when the Corvette stopped, so that's an impressive turnaround from the Porsche team. Tenacious.

Lietz will probably be next to stop though, followed by Stanaway. All three are slightly out of kilter on strategy. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but of course we've got 14 hours to go still!

Sat 22:43 More Nissan trouble. The #21 car is hobbling down the Mulsanne, with smoke and sparks coming out of the back. It's a long way home from there, at what looks like a snail's pace.

We're not sure what's happened, but the left-rear wheel isn't turning. The car is 46th at the moment.

Sat 22:46 Jani pits the #18 from P5, and Jarvis comes in from 6th in the #8 Audi.

Sat 22:47 The #21 Nissan has stopped at the side of the road on the inside of Arnage. It was always going to be a big ask to get the car back with what was clearly a severe problem.

Interestingly, it spun to the inside of the track. It looks pretty stuck right now.

Sat 22:49 This stint hasn't started very well for Audi superstar Lotterer in #7. He was failing to match the pace of Rast and Tandy, who - granted - are on lighter fuel loads. Let's see how things go once Lotterer settles in.

Sat 22:49 Rast pits the #9 Audi from the lead, handing over to Bonanomi. Tandy leads in the #19 Porsche.

Sat 22:51 Tandy leads Lotterer by 31 seconds, with Bonanomi rejoining the #9 car in third, 55s back.

The #21 Nissan has got going again, slowly.

Sat 22:52 GARY WATKINS: No quintuples yet from Audi. Fassler, Rast and Jarvis each did four stints and have now been replaced by Lotterer, Bonanomi and Duval respectively.

Sat 22:55 The #91 Porsche pits from second place. It'd be surprising if the #99 Aston didn't stop next time round.

Sat 22:57 Rusinov pits the #26 G-Drive Ligier from third in LMP2.

Bird has taken over from the Russian and doesn't lose a place.

Sat 22:58 Lietz made way for Christensen in that stop, and the #91 Porsche rejoins still well clear of the #51 Ferrari.

Will Stanaway stop? Not this time. He carries on.

Sat 22:58 The slow zone for the stranded #21 Nissan caught Lotterer but not Tandy first time around, so the #19 Porsche extends its lead to 52 seconds with a bit of good fortune there.

Sat 22:59 Very slow lap from Badey last time around results in Bradley increasing his advantage by another 19 seconds.

Sat 23:01 Tandy pits the #19 car, rejoining only 6s behind Lotterer thanks to that slow zone halting the Audi's progress.

Bonanomi is 38s off the lead in third.

Sat 23:05 That's it for one of the Nissans.

@NISMO: "Unfortunately we cannot get the No.21 back to the pits, so it has retired."

Sat 23:07 There's a tractor on the circuit collecting the #21 Nissan, so the slow zone is still in action and drivers are being told to keep to the left.

Sat 23:08 Stanaway hands over the #99 Aston to Rees, who rejoins 25s behind Gavin's Corvette.

Sat 23:11 Badey pits for fuel from P2 in LMP2. The Frenchman's deficit to leader Bradley's #47 KCMG ORECA had increased to 2m20s by this point.

Sat 23:11 A problem for the third-placed (well, it was) #83 Ferrari, which Aguas is limping back to the pits with a crocked front-right.

Sat 23:11 Lotterer pits the #7 Audi, handing the lead back to Tandy in the #19 Porsche. Bonanomi slots into second in the #9 Audi.

Sat 23:13 The #30 Extreme Speed Ligier has seemingly lived up to its name and is under investigation for speeding in the pitlane. Down in 44th overall, it's unlikely to make a massive difference.

Sat 23:13 Tandy (#19) leads Bonanomi (#9) by 33s, and Lotterer (#7) by 45s.

It's all about those three cars (and their rotation based on pit strategy) at the front, with Bernhard keeping the fourth-placed #17 car on the lead lap without making inroads.

Sat 23:15 Bradley's lead in the #47 KCMG car is now over three minutes after that latest stop for Badey's #46 Thiriet by TDS machine. The Briton has come incredibly close to lapping the entire LMP2 field.

Sat 23:15 Into the pits comes the #51 Ferrari of Fisichella.

Aguas' car has been wheeled into the garage by the way. Mechanics have been scrambled.

Sat 23:16 LMP1 order:

1 #19 Porsche
2 #9 Audi
3 #7 Audi
4 #17 Porsche
5 #18 Porsche
6 #8 Audi
7 #2 Toyota
8 #1 Toyota

Sat 23:17 The #18 car is beached in the gravel at Mulsanne Corner, with Jani at the wheel.

Sat 23:18 That's a carbon copy of the straight-on incident we saw from Dumas that cost the #18 before Jani got in the car. Massive lock-up, bouncing through the gravel, tapping the barrier then trying to reverse out.

The difference is, Dumas didn't get stuck when trying to back out of the gravel, but Jani is stuck.

And we have a slow zone in place now.

Sat 23:19 Bradley pits the #47 KCMG from the lead of LMP2. His advantage is so huge the question is how big will it be afterwards, not where he will emerge.

Sat 23:19 The #18 Porsche has already lost fifth place to the #8 Audi, as the recovery tractor comes along and picks it out of the gravel.

Sat 23:20 Jani rejoins, but that will be a hefty time loss.

Sat 23:21 Lapierre has taken over the #47 car from Bradley.

Sat 23:23 Jani brings the #18 into the pits. He hands the car over to Lieb, and just like when Dumas brought the car in, the mechanics change the front bodywork before sending the car on its way after spending 1m29s in the pitlane.

Sat 23:23 Lapierre's advantage is still a very healthy 1m45s even after that latest driver change.

Sat 23:24 Tandy's lead continues to grow. Bonanomi is now 38s behind the #19 Porsche, with Lotterer 53s adrift.

Sat 23:27 Lieb is one lap behind the fifth-placed #8 Audi now that things have shaken out after Jani's off at Mulsanne corner.

Sat 23:29 Tandy continues to charge, setting a new best lap for the #19 car - a 3m18.6s.

His lead is up to 42s over Bonanomi, while Lotterer slips to 55s back. Tandy is well-and-truly picking up where Hulkenberg left off, and the #19 car's position continues to strengthen at the head of the field.

Sat 23:29 A 55-second stop/go penalty has been dished out to the #30 Extreme Speed Ligier for speeding in the pitlane. With the lead Nissan still being worked on in the pits, it may not drop a place from its current 43rd.

Sat 23:32 More bad news for Extreme Speed as the #31 car has now hit the barrier at the Porsche Curves. Fogarty is trying to limp the car back to the pits.

Sat 23:33 Gavin pits, but may have got stuck behind that crawling LMP2 making its way back to the pits.

Rees takes the lead in the #99 Aston. These two cars have been doing this dance for a while.

Sat 23:33 Replays show Fogarty lost the car midway through the corner before hitting both the front and rear of the car against the wall.

Sat 23:33 Duval pits the #8 Audi from P5, more than two minutes behind the #17 Porsche in fourth.

Sat 23:35 Some quick times in LMP2 as both Badey (#46 ORECA) and Bird (#26 Ligier) in second and third try to hunt down leader Lapierre.

Sat 23:35 Gavin stayed in the car but that was quite a lengthy stay in the pits, even if he's taken on tyres. That might make the difference at this stage of the race.

Sat 23:36 But Lapierre responds with a personal best himself to counter any threat from behind.

Sat 23:36 Porsche's description of Dumas's off at Mulsanne corner (that was the first time the #18 car went straight on there) was simply that the driver "locked the brakes".

Given that Jani's incident looked so similar, perhaps he just made the same error, rather than there being something wrong on the car.

Sat 23:37 Bonanomi pits from second, having been no match for Tandy during that stint. Lotterer, who continues to fall back from the Porsche and is now 58s adrift, picks up second place in the #7 Audi.

Sat 23:38 A disappointed Lancaster, watching from the sidelines:

@JonLracing: "Track looks really fast out there now... Not even half way... Its such a gruelling race... Epic!"

Sat 23:39 Bird now pits from third in LMP2 in his #26 G-Drive Ligier.

Sat 23:40 Naughty. The GTE Am class leader's pitstop is under investigation. That's the #98 Aston (as it has been for ages).

Sat 23:41 Tandy increases his lead to 1m00s over Lotterer, who can't match the 3m20s (and lower) laptimes the #19 Porsche is pumping in at the moment.

Bonanomi is 1m40s back in the #9 Audi, with Bernhard 2m39s behind the leader in the #17 Porsche.

Sat 23:42 After that apparent protracted stop the Corvette is over 20 seconds behind the #91 Porsche.

The #99 leads by a fair chunk.

Sat 23:42 Time for the regular quarter-of-an-hourly misery update from Nissan:

@NISMO: "No.23 update. The rubbing was caused by hitting debris, also broke the radiator. Replacing it now."

Sat 23:44 LMP1 order:

1 #19 Porsche
2 #7 Audi
3 #9 Audi
4 #17 Porsche
5 #8 Audi
6 #18 Porsche
7 #2 Toyota
8 #1 Toyota
9 #13 Rebellion

Sat 23:46 Tandy pits the #19 from the lead, which he had extended to just over a minute. He rejoins with an 18s lead over the #7 Audi of Lotterer.

Sat 23:47 Gavin's pace suggests the Corvette is strutting around the Circuit de la Sarthe at nearly 2am with some swanky new boots on.

It would be ludicrous to suggest this is over. We're not even halfway through! What we can say is Aston vs Corvette (and Porsche, to be fair) never gets dull.

Sat 23:47 Another quick time from Lapierre, a 3m37.522s, means he extends his advantage by another seven seconds on that lap alone.

Sat 23:54 Christensen pits the #91 Porsche and that will free up the #64 Corvette into second.

Sat 23:56 Lotterer - still not as fast as race leader Tandy - pits from second in the #7 Audi.

Sat 23:57 Bonanomi moves back up to second in the #9 Audi - 1m03s behind Tandy. Lotterer is now 1m11s behind the leader in the #7 car that's third.

Sat 23:59 With 13 hours to go, Lapierre's LMP2 advantage in the #47 KCMG car stands at roughly three minutes. A massive lead, but this is Le Mans and there is still over half the race left so anything can happen...

Sun 00:01 Lapierre now pits after that first stint back behind the wheel, so that three minute lead will erode a little.

Sun 00:04 The leading GTE Pro car pits, with Rees bringing the #99 Aston in. And it's on its way again. Efficient work, AMR.

Where will it emerge in relation to the #64 Corvette and #91 Porsche?

Sun 00:05 @OliverTurvey: "Mega quadruple stint, up to P7 & closed the gap to the leaders, with a best lap of 3:38.4 to set fastest LMP2 lap of the race."

Sun 00:06 So with its 11th stop completed the #99 Aston retains its lead - that hasn't happened for a while. Cold be a significant development, with a decent lead over the #64 Corvette as well.

Christensen's some way back from the Chevy in third.

Sun 00:08 As the #18 Porsche pits and rejoins, its team manager is called to race control immediately.

Sun 00:10 It looks like there's about four seconds between Rees and Gavin. It's close, but Gavin's got fresher rubber...

Sun 00:12 Fisichella pits the #51 Ferrari.

Sun 00:14 Tandy's lead is still commanding at this stage in the #19 Porsche. He's 1m08s ahead of Bonanomi, and 1m20s clear of Lotterer.

#19 Porsche 919, Le Mans 2015

Sun 00:19 The #29 Pegasus Morgan has stopped on the track, with a slow zone declared in the Porsche Curves.

Sun 00:20 We have an on-track genuine battle for the lead!

Gavin has caught Rees so the #99 Aston just about heads the #74 Corvette as the clock ticks towards halfway.

Think about that: 11 hours and 20 minutes of racing and it's nose-to-tail for GTE Pro glory.

Sun 00:21 The same amount of excitement can't be said for LMP1, which is going through a stagnant period at the front.

That said, Bonanomi pits the #9 Audi from second. Tandy leads Lotterer by 1m22s.

Sun 00:22 Duval stopped the #8 Audi as well, and both cars have since rejoined the track. Third for the #9, fifth for the #8.

Sun 00:23 Gavin closes right up to Rees under braking for the second Mulsanne chicane but still the #99 Aston leads.

Sun 00:24 Bird has pitted for fuel in LMP2 but the #26 G-Drive Ligier retains third place.

Sun 00:26 Time for another Nissan update:

‏@NISMO: "We are getting close with the No.22, & the No.23 isn't far behind. @HarryTincknell getting ready."

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Sun 00:29 A mistake from Fernando Rees gifts the Corvette the lead. It was in the middle sector, but we're not sure where - possible the second Mulsanne chicane. He ran wide and that was more than enough for Gavin to slip past into first.

Sun 00:30 Gavin pits - just how important could that error from Rees be at this stage?

Sun 00:32 Replays show it was the first Mulsanne chicane where Rees got his braking wrong, ran wide, locked up, slid over the gravel and dropped to second.

But another mistake, from Gavin's replacement in the Chevy Tommy Milner this time - he stalls in the pitlane! Only a minor glitch but a second or two lost, surely.

Not exactly the best way to start your stint.

Sun 00:32 Tandy pits the #19 Porsche from the lead, and he emerges with a 13s lead over Lotterer. Now, last time the #19 car pitted, it had an 18s lead afterwards, so that's some time won back for Audi.

Sun 00:34 Christensen pits the #91 Porsche, which is firmly ensconced within the top three at this stage.

Sun 00:34 Here's some more details on the one-minute stop/go penalty the #17 Porsche picked up earlier. While Webber had to serve the penalty, it was for an offence committed by Hartley under yellow flags earlier in the race.

Also, on top of the one-minute penalty, Hartley now has a suspended nine-minute penalty - so if he offends again the #17 car will pay a hefty price.

Right now, it's running fourth, hanging onto the lead lap but 1m55s off the lead.

Sun 00:36 Badey pits from second in LMP2. He was already almost three minutes behind leader Lapierre in the #47 KCMG ORECA and that advantage is about to grow further still.

Sun 00:36 This hasn't been a great outlap for Tandy - Lotterer has taken four seconds out of his lead, so the gap is down to 9s.

Sun 00:37 Another LMP2 has hit trouble, this time it's the #43 Team SARD Morand car on the exit of Arnage.

Sun 00:41 Yes, we still have two Toyotas in this race, but they are four and seven laps down, running in a distant P7/P8 as we approach half-distance.

Sun 00:42 We've not been able to say this much over the last few stints, but Lotterer is managing to peg Tandy's pace at the moment. He's doing most of the work through the short first sector, where he's been as much as a second quicker than the Porsche.

Sun 00:44 Perhaps Lotterer's low fuel load was helping him keep up with the Porsche - he pits, rejoining third behind Bonanomi.

So here's how the top three looks now:

1 #19 Porsche (Tandy)
2 #9 Audi (Bonanomi), +58s
3 #7 Audi (Lotterer), +1m01s

Sun 00:45 The LMP2 leader Lapierre is in the pits again. His #47 KCMG has a massive advantage over Thiriet who has replaced Badey in the #46 car.

Sun 00:47 It was a very long stop for Lapierre - not quite sure what the team was looking at but they were having a thorough examination of something. It doesn't prevent him retaining the LMP2 lead though.

Sun 00:48 Sure enough, Tandy has now settled into the 3m21s, and he is easing away from both of the chasing Audis, as we've seen for the last couple of stints.

The combination of Lotterer being light on fuel and Tandy being heavy briefly made it look like the pendulum was about to swing back in Audi's favour.

Sun 00:49 Lapierre's advantage has been slashed at the head of the class from over four minutes to just 49 seconds. That long stop could prove very costly.

Sun 00:49 Worth pointing out the #91 Porsche has ceded third place to the #51 Ferrari, though with the way the pitstops keep shaking out it's likely the 911 RSR will be back ahead when Vilander stops.

Sun 00:50 Bernhard hands the #17 Porsche over to Hartley, the man whose yellow flag infringement dropped it out of the battle for the lead.

Sun 00:54 Rees's lead in the #99 Aston is 1m22s, with Corvette's Milner struggling to match the Brazilian's pace.

It's been 53 laps since we lost the #97 Aston from the lead fight. Doesn't feel it...

Sun 00:58 Lotterer is only 3s behind Bonanomi now. That's the closest the two leading Audis have been on track for a long time.

Both remain more than one minute behind the leading #19 Porsche of Tandy, though.

Sun 01:00 Rees pits in the #99 Aston, handing back over to Stanaway in the car fighting for the GTE lead.

Sun 01:03 Whatever the problem was Lapierre had with the #46 KCMG ORECA in the pits, it doesn't seem to have affected his laptimes. He's currently circulating about a second quicker than nearest rival the #46 Thiriet car.

Sun 01:04 Bird has pitted from third and has handed over to Rusinov for another stint in the #26 Ligier.

Sun 01:05 Lotterer appears powerless to make any more progress in his battle with Bonanomi. The gap has stabilised at three seconds for a while now, and they are both just outside a minute of Tandy's leading Porsche.

Sun 01:07 Big fire for the #66 GTE Am Ferrari in a pitstop, which takes a long time to put out after some help from marshals and neighbouring Audi mechanics.

The car is in the garage now being checked over, but that's likely to have done a lot of damage because it took a while to put the blaze out.

Sun 01:08 So Stanaway has rejoined and he's 4.3s behind Milner in the Corvette. The Chevy will be a bit quicker at this stage because it's lighter, although Stanaway probably has new tyres after a stay of 1m25s in the pits.

Sun 01:08 Bonanomi pits the #9 Audi, promoting Lotterer's #7 machine into second, 1m06s behind the leading Porsche of Tandy.

Sun 01:12 Stanaway doesn't have the beating of Milner at this stage but he does have a pitstop in hand, so really it's advantage Aston Martin - assuming it plays out the way it appears to be, that is.

Sun 01:12 Tandy hasn't quite been able to flex his muscles towards the end of his stint in the #19 car, possibly because the tyres are crying enough. He's still got enough pace to keep Lotterer over a minute back, but with Bamber set to take over the Porsche at the next stop, it's likely Lotterer is close enough to take the lead.

Sun 01:14 The #47 KCMG ORECA remains in control of LMP2 with Lapierre eking its advantage back out to almost a minute to the #46 Thiriet machine. A further 1m25s back is Rusinov's #26 Ligier which has cemented its third place for the time being.

Sun 01:14 There's going to be huge pressure on Bamber when he jumps in the #19. He's going to be head-to-head with one of sportscar racing's true stars in Lotterer, and he's got to live up to the performances Hulkenberg and Tandy have shown in that car tonight.

Between them, those two have hauled that car into a race-leading position, and they'll expect it returned to them in similar fashion when Bamber's stint comes to an end.

For now, Tandy is back in the 3m21s, preventing Lotterer from making inroads. The gap is 1m05s.

Sun 01:16 The #51 Ferrari has pit and that should allow the #91 Porsche back into third place.

Sun 01:17 Tandy pits after a phenomenal job taking the fight to Audi, keeping the #19 Porsche out front for so long.

Bamber gets in, with a fresh set of tyres, and Lotterer sweeps through Turn 1 as he exits the pits. The #7 Audi leads by 4s. Let's see how that gap develops in Bamber's first stint.

Sun 01:18 Scratch that – the #91 Porsche was wheeled into the garage during its last stop for minor repairs. So it was actually a lap down on the Ferrari, and now isn't - but stays fourth.

Blame our weary eyes.

Sun 01:19 Thiriet pits for fuel from second in LMP2. The #46 car is currently losing a couple of seconds per lap to leader Lapierre who is re-establishing the KCMG car's authority at the front.

Sun 01:20 Tincknell sets a new personal best for the #22 Nissan, which sits a troubled 47th overall - 3m38.196s.

Sun 01:21 Lotterer gives Bamber a ruthless welcome to the battle for the lead - pulling away by four seconds on the Porsche's outlap. The gap shoots up to 8.1s by the start/finish line.

Sun 01:24 LMP1 leaders:

1 #7 Audi (Lotterer)
2 #19 Porsche (Bamber), +9.7s
3 #9 Audi (Bonanomi), +55s
4 #17 Porsche (Hartley), +2m03s

Sun 01:25 Bamber is into the 3m22s but Lotterer decides that won't be enough. The Audi man does a 3m20.7s to extend his lead by another 1.7s on lap 199.

Sun 01:28 Bamber lost another second in the first half of lap 200, but Lotterer was then delayed in the Porsche Curves before pitting at the end of the lap.

The #19 Porsche leads again, and Lotterer hands over to Treluyer after spending 1m31s in the pits. Bonanomi moves the #9 Audi back into second place, 45s behind Bamber.

Sun 01:30 That Audi driver-change stop took 15-16s longer than both the leading Porsches managed when they last swapped drivers. There seemed to be a delay with the wheel gun between removing the wheel and then attaching the new one. Strange.

Sun 01:31 Milner's relinquished the GTE lead, pitting the Corvette and heading out again. Stanaway, whose pace has understandably improved as this stint has developed, assumes the mantle of race leader once more.

Sun 01:32 Bamber's had two 3m25s laps in a row now, so Bonanomi is hacking away at his lead. It's down to 41s, and the #7 car is 1m12s back in third.

Sun 01:32 Hartley pits the #17 car from fourth place.

Sun 01:33 Another stop for the leading LMP2 #47 car. This time Lapierre has no problems and is quickly back on his way.

Sun 01:34 It's a third 3m25s in succession for Bamber. Bonanomi takes another couple of seconds out of the #19 Porsche's lead, which comes down to 39.2s.

Sun 01:36 Stanaway > Milner is 52s since the Corvette stopped. Both cars have been down the pitlane 12 times.

Sun 01:36 The #98 Aston leads GTE Am but is being closed down by the #72 Ferrari. Matthias Lauda's not having a great stint, and is losing a lot of time to Victor Shaytar behind.

Sun 01:37 More problems for the #37 SMP Racing BRE. It's wheeled back into the garage but is already last in class by some five laps...

Sun 01:38 Bamber puts in a much-needed 3m21s, just to stem the tide against Bonanomi, who loses ground with a 3m24s that lap. The lead gap increases to 42.0s.

Sun 01:39 The other SMP BRE machine (#27) is also wheeled into the garage - perhaps the team have detected a fault that affects both cars.

Sun 01:42 Things have stabilised out front now. Bamber is keeping his lead over Bonanomi at over 40 seconds again, while Treluyer is making very few inroads, still 1m08s off the leading Porsche.

Sun 01:43 New fastest time for Berthon in the #48 Murphy ORECA, currently fourth in LMP2 and still a long way behind the third-placed #26 Ligier.

Sun 01:44 @jbleekemolen: "Really nice triple stint in the night. Got from P6 to P4, fastest GT car on track for many laps. Short break now."

Sun 01:46 Bamber's latest 3m22s isn't stellar, but it'll do nicely against Bonanomi's 3m25s. The #19 Porsche's lead is up to 44.5s, while Treluyer closes to +1m06s in P3.

Sun 01:46 A good lap from Stanaway, 3m56.977s, makes him the quickest of the frontrunners. This is a period of consolidation in GTE Pro right now, drivers maybe steering clear of that final per cent as a trade-off for not sticking it in the wheel in the darkness.

1. #99 Aston
2. #64 Corvette
3. #51 Ferrari
4. #91 Porsche
5. #71 Ferrari

Sun 01:48 Rusinov in #26 has just pitted from third in LMP2 but has retained the final podium slot. The current top five:

1. #47 KCMG ORECA
2. #46 Thiriet by TDS ORECA
3. #26 G-Drive Ligier
4. #48 Murphy ORECA
5. #38 Jota Gibson

Sun 01:49 Lauda pits in the #98 Aston Martin. When Shaytar brings the SMP Ferrari there's a good chance the lead battle will be on in GTE Am - which is a surprise given how strong the AMR car's lead was for so long.

Sun 01:53 Bonanomi brings the #9 Audi in from second, handing it over to Albuquerque. That moves Treluyer up to second, 1m06s behind Bamber in the race-leading #19 Porsche.

Sun 02:01 Thiriet pits the #46 ORECA from second in LMP2. The Frenchman still has a significant deficit to compatriot Lapierre in the #47 KCMG car with 11 hours remaining

Sun 02:01 Bamber pits from the lead in the #19 Porsche. He had a minute's advantage so should return at the head of the field.

Sun 02:02 The New Zealander does indeed retain his advantage. And we're into the 14th hour.

Time flies, doesn't it?

Sun 02:02 The impressive Vanthoor in the #34 OAK Ligier has just set his personal best time a 3m38.251s. He is just about the only driver to be improving their times at this stage of the race.

Sun 02:04 Milner's attacking Stanaway, there's less than two seconds between the top two GTE Pro runners.

Sun 02:08 Here's who is in the leading cars:

#19 Porsche - Bamber
#7 Audi - Treluyer
#9 Audi - Albuquerque
#17 Porsche - Hartley
#8 Audi - di Grassi
#18 Porsche - LIeb
#2 Toyota - Sarrazin
#1 Toyota - Nakajima

Sun 02:09 Bamber's lead is 11.434s over Treluyer, Treluyer was two seconds faster last time round.

Sun 02:12 The #7 Audi heads into the pits with Treluyer at the wheel. He just takes fuel.

Sun 02:14 Hartley has just banged in the #17 Porsche's fastest lap, a 3m18.938s. Currently, the overall fastest lap is a 3m17.674s set by Albuquerque on lap 62.

Sun 02:14 Pitstops in LMP2 for the #28 G-Drive Ligier and the #34 OAK Ligier. They rejoin sixth and eighth in class.

Sun 02:17 Sarrazin has just brought the #2 Toyota into the pits for fuel. Nakajima follows moments after in the #8.

Sun 02:17 Toyota is having a very difficult race. The two cars are down in seventh and eight and aren't close to the pace of Porsche or Audi.

Sun 02:18 Lapierre pits in the dominant KCMG ORECA. Takes on a set of tyres and a new driver, Howson.

Sun 02:18 Hartley pits for fuel in the #17 Porsche, which is still on the lead lap.

Sun 02:19 P.S. Thanks for joining us, especially those of you putting in a long overnight shift! Tell us on Twitter (@autosport) where you're watching the race!

Sun 02:24 After that stop, KCMG holds a 56-second lead over TDS, with Howson and Thiriet behind the wheel of the two ORECAS.

Sun 02:25 Lieb has brought the #18 Porsche into the pits. He just takes fuel and heads ack out onto the track. The car is running sixth.

Sun 02:25 Bamber's lead is currently 61s, but that will close up when he makes his next stop.

Sun 02:26 Good news for Nissan - the #22 car has left the pits in the hands of Krumm. The #23 car is also on track with Chilton at the wheel but the #21 machine is out.

Sun 02:27 Pitstops in GTE. Milner has been in and is back out, aboard the #64 Corvette, which had been keeping Aston Martin's Pro leader Stanaway company.

In Am, the #72 SMP Ferrari has stopped, with Basov replacing Shaitar. They've relinquished top spot to the Lauda-driven #98 Aston.

Sun 02:29 Another stop, the 18th, completed for the G-Drive OAK that currently sits third in LMP2 in the hands of Rusinov.

Sun 02:29 Ten-and-a-half hours remaining - we are 90 minutes from 'official' sunrise.

Sun 02:32 Treluyer in the #7 Audi is chipping away at Bamber's lead.

Sun 02:34 Last lap round, Bamber stabilised the gap to Treluyer, pulling six-tenths of a second on him. But the New Zealander lost a couple of seconds in the first sector on this lap.

Could the gap be about to drop under a minute? Fine stint from Treluyer.

Sun 02:36 Replays show that the #9 Audi of Albuquerque clipped the back of a GTE car coming into the Ford Chicane. The Corvette was itself mixed up with the Ibanez Racing ORECA.

Sun 02:37 Di Grassi has been in for fuel in the #8 Audi.

Sun 02:38 Team SARD Morand's retirement a little while ago is, understandably, hitting Webb hard.

@oliverjameswebb: Gutted :( in P4 and half race distance 12 hours and our engines gone. We're done

Sun 02:38 Albuquerque is in the pits in the #9 Audi. That's scheduled and not because of any damage from the clash with a GTE Am Ferrari.

Sun 02:39 Jota is up to fifth in LMP2, with Dolan having just made another pitstop. It's been a gallant effort - and no doubt they'll keep pushing hard - but the pace of the KCMG and TDS ORECAS has made it tough for them to regain the laps they lost in the first hour.

Sun 02:40 Hartley is setting a very strong pace in the #17 Porsche. He's just done a 3m19.695s lap and has been very quick since taking over from Bernhard.

Sun 02:40 Pitstop for Bruni in the lead AF Corse Ferrari, which is still third in GTE Pro.

Sun 02:41 The #2 Toyota is in for fuel, tyres and a driver change. Sarrazin out and Conway jumps in.

Sun 02:42 Yellows at Indianapolis but it's not yet clear why.

Sun 02:42 Nice sequence of real-time updates from Audi. Tweeting is one way to help stay sharp at this time of the day.

@Audi__Sport: No. 9 @AlbuquerqueFil reports he has slightly hit a GTE Ferrari
@Audi__Sport: Team radio: 'Fuel only, check the nose'
@Audi__Sport: Nose is okay on the No.9 #Audi

Sun 02:42 Well, whatever it was that caused the yellow is cleared up.

Sun 02:43 Pitstop for TDS, a slightly longer one as Gommendy replaces Thiriet in the second-placed car. Looked like mechanics were ending to the front of the chassis.

Sun 02:43 Radio Le Mans reports that Kapadia had an off at Indianapolis - that might well explain that yellow flag.

Sun 02:44 Fantastic battle up front - both Bamber (#19 Porsche) and Treluyer (#1 Audi) were both in the 3m19s last lap round. The gap is up to 61.449s so the Porsche driver is doing a good job to keep the Audi at arm's length.

Sun 02:44 Another possible scenario is based on the fact that the #26 G-Drive Ligier has been given a bad sportsmanship flag for an unsafe return to the track. And it's now in pitlane, having only stopped about 15 minutes ago. Rusinov has rejoined the race now.

Sun 02:45 The leading #19 Porsche of Bamber heads into the pits, right on time.

Sun 02:46 After taking on fuel, Bamber returns to the track. He's held onto the lead ahead of Treluyer. Let's see what the gap is...

Sun 02:47 Lauda's stint in the #98 Aston has come to an end, with Lamy getting behind the wheel following a pitstop. That means the #72 SMP Ferrari leads GTE Am once more.

Sun 02:47 Bamber's lead is down to 12.344s after that stop. But shows that his last stint was a decent one as he maintained the gap to the rapid Treluyer.

Sun 02:50 The GTE Pro-leading Aston has pitted with Stanaway behind the wheel, but this doesn't look like a routine stop. It's been pushed into the garage where mechanics are getting to work. The camera has just cut away we'll keep you posted. With that, the #64 Corvette is back in the class lead.

Sun 02:52 The Aston is back out there, with Rees behind the wheel. Meanwhile, the #95 Aston has spun and rejoined.

Sun 02:53 Drama in LMP2. The TDS Racing Ligier that was running second with Gommendy behind the wheel is in a bad way at the first Mulsanne chicane. Looks like it was hit by a GT car that tried to go down the inside of it. The car has moved from the gravel trap on the inside of the corner to the outside.

As a result, we have a double yellow at the corner.

The #96 Aston could - could - have been the other car involved. Hall is limping it back to the pits.

Sun 02:58 Pitstop for the #7 Audi, Treluyer continues, now 56 seconds behind the #19 Porsche.

Sun 03:00 The #99 Aston Martin and the #64 Corvette that are battling for the GTE Pro lead are both in the pits. The Aston is in the garage with front-end damage. That was the car that clattered the #46 TDS Racing ORECA.

Sun 03:02 This means that the lead of GTE Pro has now fallen to the #51 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Gianmaria Bruni

Sun 03:03 The #17 Porsche of Hartley has been in the pits. He takes fuel and stays aboard. That car runs fourth and is trying to catch the #9 Audi of Albuquerque.

Sun 03:06 How things stand at the front:

1 #19 Porsche (Bamber), 228 laps
2 #7 Audi (Treluyer), +55.094s
3 #9 Audi (Albuquerque), +97.694s
4 #17 Porsche (Hartley), +159.594s

Sun 03:07 The #46 TDS ORECA has been craned out of the gravel. Gommendy is trying to get the damaged car back to the pits after being rear-ended by the Rees Aston Martin.

Sun 03:14 Bamber is doing a fine job in the #19 Porsche. His lead is now 53.744s. Treluyer is setting a decent pace in pursuit, but not making inroads.

Sun 03:16 Bruni's lead in GTE Pro is now 71 seconds over the #64 Corvette driven by Milner.

Sun 03:17 Treluyer lopped almost four seconds out of the lead Porsche last time round.

Sun 03:19 Elsewhere in LMP1, the #4 CLM, run by the ByKolles, is still running down in 44th place in the hands of Trummer.

Sun 03:21 The #8 Audi is in the pits. Di Grassi will take just fuel.

Sun 03:21 Both the TDS Ligier and #99 Aston remain in their respective garages following their class-changing clash about half an hour ago. Rear-end repairs for the LMP2 squad, front end for what had been the GTE Pro leader.

Sun 03:22 The demise of TDS - already seven laps down - means KCMG's lead is approaching two laps over the #26 G-Drive entry, while Murphy and Jota are now third and fourth.

Sun 03:22 Over the past hour-and-a-half, we have seen Treluyer making small gains on the leading Porsche of Bamber. The gap is currently 52s, so it has very much been a case of chipping away.

Sun 03:23 Audi #9, which runs third, is in the pits for a scheduled stop. Just fuel for Albuquerque, who stays on board.

Sun 03:23 Another stop complete in GTE Am, as the see-sawing battle between the #72 SMP Ferrari and #98 Aston continues. Basov pitted in the Ferrari, handing the lead back to Lamy. It's 14 stops apiece, though the two cars are running slightly out of sync with each other.

Sun 03:27 The #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier has been in the wars, it currently sits 14th, 23 laps down.

@ryan_dalziel: 10hrs to go. We are still running. Had an oil tank crack so we had to patch it up. You can knock us down #lm24 but we will keep getting up!

Sun 03:29 Bamber sets the fastest lap for the #19 Porsche so far, a 3m18.596s as his tense battle with Treluyer continues. Remember, this is Bamber's Le Mans debut and he's up against a driver in his 11th (three of which Treluyer has won).

Sun 03:31 Pitstop and driver changes for the second and third-placed cars in LMP2.

Bird is back in the #28 G-Drive entry, taking over from Rusinov, which holds an advantage of nearly a lap over the Murphy ORECA, which now has Chandhok behind the wheel.

Sun 03:32 The leader is in the pits: Bamber pulls into the box in the #19 Porsche. But thanks to a car being in the adjacent pit, he parks at a strange angle and has to be lifted and rotated back into place. That's cost him maybe six seconds. Perhaps as many as 10, given his last stop was 10 seconds faster.

Sun 03:34 As a result of that crowded pitlane, Bamber has lost the lead to Treluyer. The pair are separated by just two seconds now.

Sun 03:34 In the GT ranks, Bruni in the #51 Ferrari leads Pro by 71s from Taylor in the #64 Chev. Still no sign of the #99 Aston yet, following the clash with TDS 40 minutes ago.

In Am, Lamy has taken the #98 Aston to a 61-second buffer over the #72 SMP Ferrari. He was seven seconds faster that last time around.

Sun 03:34 We are expecting Treluyer in in a few laps in the #7 Audi, so that will give Bamber back the lead. But it's more valuable time that Treluyer has gained.

Sun 03:35 Treluyer knows an opportunity when he sees it. He's getting the hammer down - 3m20.342s last time round.

Sun 03:40 Pitstops for both GT class leaders. Bruni hands the #51 Ferrari over to Fisichella, which rejoins the race second in Pro, behind the #64 Corvette.

In AM, Lamy has been in and out, and looks to have maintained the #98 Aston's lead.

Sun 03:41 Treluyer brings the leading #7 Audi into the pits bang on schedule.

Sun 03:42 He's behind the ByKolles CLM in pit entry, which might cost him a little time.

Sun 03:43 A straightforward stop for Treluyer as he takes on fuel. He was in the pitlane five seconds less than Bamber was on his delayed previous stop.

Sun 03:43 It's 5:43am here in Le Mans and we're getting closer to sunrise. This is what it looks like out of the media centre window, right now. See?



Sun 03:44 LMP2 pitstops for Jota, currently fourth with Dolan behind the wheel, and Strakka, sixth with Watts now in charge.

Sun 03:48 Another stop complete for KCMG, Howson remains in the dominant LMP2 leader.

Sun 03:48 Hartley brings the #17 Porsche into the pits for fuel and tyres. He hands over to Webber.

Sun 03:51 Sounds like TDS is joining the list of retirees, with the damage to its Ligier beyond repair.

Sun 03:54 Bamber's lead in the #19 Porsche is now 53 seconds. It's a great game of cat and mouse between him and Treluyer. The Frenchman is making gains, but it is very very slow progress!

Sun 03:55 Fisichella bangs in the fastest lap we've seen so far from the #51 AF Corse Ferrari that is second in GTE. He's battling with Milner's Corvette.

Sun 03:55 The #18 Porsche heads into the pits for fuel. Dumas is still aboard that car, which runs sixth.

Sun 03:58 Good job from Bamber in the leading #19 Porsche. He's extending his lead now.

Sun 04:05 Here's how things stand:

1 #19 Porsche (Bamber)
2 #7 Audi (Treluyer), +57.595s
3 #9 Audi (Albuquerque), +1m59.929s

Sun 04:05 The #8 Audi is back in the pits. It holds fifth place in the hands of di Grassi.

Sun 04:06 Webber is at the wheel of the fourth-placed #17 Porsche. He's lapping in the 3m23s bracket, making him the slowest of the four cars on the lead lap.

Sun 04:08 The #9 Audi has been brought into the pits, with Albuquerque staying on board after taking on fuel.

Sun 04:09 Leaders as the sun slowly rises:

Overall: #19 Porsche (Bamber)
LMP2: #47 KCMG ORECA (Howson)
GTE Pro: #51 AF Corse Ferrari (Fisichella)
GTE AM: #98 Aston Martin (Lamy)

Sun 04:10 In the lead battle, Bamber and Treluyer are still evenly matched. The gap stands at 55.897s.

Sun 04:12 A trio of LMP2 pitstops have just been completed - G-Drive in second, Murphy in third and the #34 OAK in sixth have all visited the lane. No driver changes, with Bird, Chandhok and Estre continuing.

Sun 04:13 There are some question marks about the weather this morning. Depending on who you believe it's either definitely going to rain or definitely not going to rain. There are also unconfirmed reports of a plague of locusts sweeping in from the south, which could make strategy interesting.

For now, it's dry, so let's not worry about bad weather until it turns up. Or doesn't.

AUTOSPORT's high-tech weather system (looking out the window) can confirm it is getting lighter rapidly.

Sun 04:14 There are still two Nissans moving, down in 44th and 47th place. Chilton is aboard #23 and Krumm in #22. Didn't look especially likely that any of the Nissans would still be around come sunrise, so the fact two-thirds of them are still running is a positive.

Sun 04:15 Bamber is nudging the lead up to the one-minute mark. It's currently 57.743s over Treluyer in the #7 Audi.

Sun 04:16 Bamber pits in in the #19 Porsche and hands over to Nico Hulkenberg. This should be Hulkenberg's final go in the car.

Sun 04:16 Big news at Toyota - Buemi has done the #1 car's fastest lap of the race with a 3m22.548s. That's five seconds off the fastest lap overall...

Sun 04:17 Hulkenberg was massively impressive during his second stint overnight. Let's see what he can do here.

Sun 04:17 Time to get the wets ready?

@Audi__Sport: The team is expecting some rain pretty soon

Sun 04:18 For those of you wondering about the former GTE class leader, following its clash with the TDS Racing Ligier.

@AMR_Official: The #99 Vantage GTE has returned to the race. It's eleven laps down but we never stop fighting.

Sun 04:18 Well, there's a threat of rain, so Porsche will be very happy to have Hulkenberg - who is very good in the wet and brilliant on a damp track on slicks - in the car.

Sun 04:22 Treluyer has a lead of 17.682s over Hulkenberg.

Sun 04:22 Treluyer is due in in a couple of laps, which will bring his quadruple stint to an end.

Sun 04:24 Is Hulkenberg going to feel his way into this stint? Take it easy as he acclimatises perhaps. Not a bit of - he bangs in a 3m19.493s on his first flying lap. He's always been a class act and it's great to see a driver of his ability in a potentially racewinning car.

Sun 04:24 A pitstop for the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari, currently second in GTE Am. Bertolini is now in the car, as the team looks to challenge the leading #98 Aston.

Sun 04:25 Treluyer is due in shortly, so Hulkenberg will assume the lead when that happens.

Sun 04:27 Treluyer brings the #7 Audi into the pits from the lead. He will take tyres and hand over to Fassler.

Hulkenberg takes the lead in the #19 Porsche.

Sun 04:29 A moment of alarm as AUTOSPORT is momentarily fooled by one of the 'decoy' Porsches, which is in the wall at Indianapolis. Fortunately for the German marque, it's not a Porsche at all, it's the white #12 Rebellion LMP1 driven by Nicolas Prost.

Sun 04:29 Up front, Hulkenberg's lead is now 67 seconds over Fassler

Sun 04:31 We have a slow zone at Indianapolis to allow for the recovery of the Rebellion.

Sun 04:31 Not much to report in LMP2, Howson still leads Bird by more than one lap, with Chandhok and Turvey the next cars on the road, a further lap behind.

Sun 04:33 Right on cue, the director rolls out some slow-mo footage of Chandhok, Bird and Howson, and the latter has pitted in the KCMG ORECA.

Sun 04:33 Lamy has pitted in the GTE Am-leading Aston, rejoins without relinquishing top spot to the SMP Ferrari.

Sun 04:34 Webber brings the #17 Porsche into the pits for fuel.

Sun 04:34 The slow zone has cleared.

Sun 04:35 Fisichella has pitted in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, but unlike recent hours, the team hasn't relinquished the GTE Pro lead to the Taylor-driven #64 Corvette.

Sun 04:37 Hulkenberg crosses the line with a 3m18.841s as he bids to extend his lead.

Sun 04:39 Following Howson's stop, the #26 G-Drive Ligier is back on the lead lap, although Bird is still the best part of three minutes - 2m51s to be precise - behind KCMG.

Sun 04:40 Dumas brings the #18 Porsche into the pits and returns to the track.

Sun 04:45 Hulkenberg is stretching his lead up front. It's now 82.928s.

Sun 04:50 Bird has been one of the strongest drivers in LMP2 all week. He's chipping away at KCMG's lead, it's now 2m42s with just over eight hours of racing remaining. A lifetime, basically.

The car has looked good, but ultimately you'd suggest Rusinov and Canal haven't been able to get as much out of it as the 2013 GP2 runner-up.

KCMG on the other hand, has so far far enjoyed a very balanced, high-level output from its three drivers.

Sun 04:51 Di Grassi brings in the #8 Audi and hands over to Oliver Jarvis.

Sun 04:52 Meanwhile, Fassler has picked up the pace in the #7 Audi that runs second during the past few laps.

Sun 04:52 Well, Fassler had done, but he has just lost over six seconds! Hulkenberg's lead is up to 90.577s now.

Sun 04:53 Bird has now pitted, as has Chandhok in the Murphy entry. No driver changes for either entry, it will put KCMG a lap ahead again.

Sun 04:53 We have a slow zone for debris near Porsche Curves.

Sun 04:54 Replays show that the debris has come off the rear of the #7 Aud, driven by Fassler. He seems happy to stay out at the moment.

Sun 04:54 But, saying that, he just had a brief wide moment at Arnage.

Sun 04:56 Fassler brings the #7 Audi in. It's wheeled back into the garage.

Sun 04:58 The #13 Rebellion, driving by Imperatori, has a trip through the gravel.

Sun 05:03 Hulkenberg now leads by over three minutes from Rast, but he is due a pitstop.

Sun 05:04 And, sure enough, Hulkenberg heads into the pits for a top-up of fuel.

Sun 05:05 Here's how things stand:

1 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg)
2 #9 Audi (Rast)
3 #17 Porsche (Webber)
4 #8 Audi (Jarvis)
5 #7 Audi (Fassler)
6 #18 Porsche (Dumas)
7 #2 Toyota (Wurz)
8 #1 Toyota (Buemi)

Sun 05:06 The AF Corsa GTE Am car has clashed with the Ibanez ORECA LMP2 machine, leaving debris on the track.

Sun 05:06 But it's now clear.

Sun 05:08 Hulkenberg's lead has shaken out at 2m23.5s over Rast. Given the pace of the #19 Porsche, if it runs cleanly to the end and there are no errors, there's nothing Audi can do to catch it.

Sun 05:09 The #22 Nissan has just done its best lap in the hands of Krumm - a 3m37.944s. That's 20 seconds off the fastest overall, set by Albuquerque.

Sun 05:12 Both of the Rebellions are currently in the garage. Looks like there will be no repeat of last year's fourth place.

Sun 05:12 Rast and Hulkenberg are lapping at similar pace now. What really made the difference was that, while Hulkenberg was immediately able to lap rapidly, Rast took a few laps to settle in.

Sun 05:13 Hulkenberg is expected into the pits shortly.

Sun 05:14 This race is incredibly close. Want to know how close? The top four - Hulkenberg, Rast, Webber and Jarvis, were separated by four tenths last lap round.

Sun 05:19 A Sunday morning driver change for KCMG. Howson is out after his stint and Bradley - who set the car's time to secure pole position on Wednesday - is back in for the LMP2 leader.

Does Wednesday feel like a lifetime ago to anyone else?

Sun 05:19 The #17 Porsche pits from third place. Webber stays aboard and the car is sent out with another 68 litres of fuel.

Sun 05:21 Rast takes to the extremities of the straight to get around one of the Toyotas as he laps it. Remember, that's the same Toyota that won last year's World Endurance Championship, should have won Le Mans and yet is now miles off the pace.

Sun 05:21 Status quo in GTE with just over seven-and-a-half hours remaining, with Fisichella holding a 64-second lead over Gavin in Pro, albeit still to make its brake change.

In Am, Bertolini has just pitted in the second-placed SMP Racing Ferrari, which only helps the sizeable lead Lamy is building in his Aston Martin.

Sun 05:24 A 3m18.862s last time round for Hulkenberg. That's two or three seconds faster than the pace has been in previous laps.

Sun 05:26 Dumas brings the #18 Porsche in for fuel.

Sun 05:27 Time for a late charge from the Strakka Racing, currently seventh in LMP2 with its Dome?

@StrakkaRacing: Latest delivery to the garage worth around half a second a lap


Sun 05:28 In very related news, if anyone fancies bringing AUTOSPORT some breakfast goodies, we're in room three of the media centre, above the Krohn Racing garage.

Sun 05:29 While Hulkenberg is stealing Webber's thunder as top F1 convert in this race, he has been quick to point out how helpful the Australian has been.

"He as been very helpful, he's been giving me a lot of hints and tips" said Hulkenberg in a a recent interview with AUTOSPORT.

"I've spoken to him quite a bit. He just shares his thoughts and information. What he went through last year wasn't long ago, so we chat quite a bit."

Sun 05:30 If you would like to create your own weather speculation, be our guest. But, for now, AUTOSPORT can only confirm that it either will or will not rain.

Sun 05:32 New fastest lap in LMP2, set by Turvey who's still pushing hard in the Jota Sport Gibson, which lost a pair of laps in the first hour yesterday, then had a puncture overnight. It's a 3m37.440s.

Sun 05:34 Lead change in GTE Pro, the Gavin-steered #64 Corvette is back in top spot, after Fisichella pitted in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. The team installed Vilander in the car, and elected to make its brake change, which Corvette had one earlier.

Sun 05:36 There's also been a driver change in the GTE Am-leading Aston, with Lamy out and Dalla Lana in. The #98 holds a two-minute buffer over the chasing Ferrari.

Sun 05:36 Progress in the #19 Porsche remains serene, with the #9 Audi of Rast a distant second. Remember, these two cars are the third entires for the two manufacturers, rather than full-season WEC entires. Both did the Spa 6 Hours last month as a warm-up.

Sun 05:36 Jarvis brings the #8 Audi that runs fourth in for fuel.

Sun 05:37 The #7 Audi cycles into fourth place as a result. Fassler is at the wheel of that car, which was battling for the lead until shedding its engine cover and some rear bodywork in the last hour.

Sun 05:37 Some movement in LMP2. Bird has pitted to finish his stint, handing the G-Drive entry over to Canal. It remains in second place.

Murphy also pitted from third and while Chandhok is still in the car, it has been leapfrogged by Turvey. The Jota pilot has also set a new LMP2 fastest lap, 3m36.679s as his push continues.

Sun 05:38 Gavin now leads GTE by 11.2 seconds over the Vilander Ferrari.

Sun 05:38 Rast brings the #9 Audi into the pits for fuel.

Sun 05:39 Big shunt. It's Goethe in the #96 Aston GTE AM on the run to the final chicanes. Safety car.

Sun 05:39 With the safety car deployed, let's see how this affects the lead battle.

Sun 05:41 Remember, there are three safety cars at Le Mans. Which group you are in can have a big impact on the gaps.

Sun 05:42 Replays show that Goethe spun into the wall at the exit of the Porsche Curves after having just been passed by the #19 Porsche of Hulkenberg.

Sun 05:45 Hulkenberg and Rast are together under the safety car. As Rast recently stopped, that should mean that the #19 Porsche's lead is not dramatically affected by the safety car.

Sun 05:47 The team has confirmed that Goethe has been talking to the team and is out of the car. He's being taken to the medical centre.

Sun 05:48 Murphy took the opportunity to pit during the safety car period, with Patterson replacing Chandhok in the fourth-placed LMP2 car.

Sun 05:54 Still under safety car here. The top three are all in the same safety-car pack, meaning that Hulkenberg is as good as a lap up on both the #9 Audi and the #17 Porsche.

Sun 05:57 Varying levels of fortune for the top three in LMP2 with the safety car groupings. Leader Bradley is in the same group as second-placed Canal, but behind in the queue and could put a second lap on the G-Drive entry.

Meanwhile, third-placed Turvey is now back on the same lap as Canal.

Sun 05:58 So here's the order:

1 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg)
2 #9 Audi (Rast)
3 #17 Porsche (Webber)
4 #7 Audi (Fassler)
5 #8 Audi (Jarvis)
6 #18 Porsche (Jani)
7 #2 Toyota (Wurz)
8 #1 Toyota (Buemi)

Sun 06:02 Hukenberg brings the #19 Porsche into the pits for fuel under the safety car.

Sun 06:03 And he's been wheeled into the garage. It seems that there might have been contact with the #96 Porsche when he was lapping it at the exit of the Porsche Curves.

Sun 06:04 But the car is quickly sent back out. Tandy, who has taken over from Hulkenberg, is being held at the exit of the pitlane, ready to join the next safety car group.

Sun 06:06 There was no real time loss from that visit to the garage for the #19 Porsche. It would have had to waited at pit exit anyway and it has rejoined in the safety-car pack behind the one that Rast and Webber are in. So when the race gets underway, the car's lead won't be that different to what it was before.

Sun 06:07 Hulk getting out of the car means that his was just a double stint. But given that the safety car was out and the car needed refuelling anyway, it made sense to give the car fresh tyres and put Tandy in. That did not cost any time.

Sun 06:08 Fassler brings the #7 Audi in for fuel.

Sun 06:09 And the safety car is due in this lap.

Sun 06:09 A couple of GTE stops behind the safety car, with the lead pair of the #64 Corvette and AF Corse's #51 Ferrari both taking the opportunity to stop. By virtue of pitting first and rejoining at the front of the group, Vilander is ahead of Gavin.

Sun 06:12 Instant move at the restart, Webber dives past Rast and into second place.

Sun 06:14 Now that the timing has shaken out, an update on the LMP2 lead - KCMG was queuing behind G-Drive in the safety car group to relap the car for the first time. It's now done that, rather than putting it two laps down.

Sun 06:16 Webber has pulled out a 3-second gap on Rast since getting past at the restart. Tandy is two minutes up the road, based on his safety car group.

Sun 06:18 So the #19 Porsche's lead is much the same as it was before the safety-car period at a little over two minutes.

Sun 06:20 All three of the drivers in the #19 Porsche - Tandy, Bamber and Hulkenberg - have done a very good job. Only Tandy has contested this race before, both times in GTE machinery, so given the experience level, what they have achieved is remarkable.

With a clean run to the end, victory will be assured. But there's still 6 hours and 40 minutes to go. At Le Mans, nothing is assured...

Sun 06:21 KCMG pits Bradley, putting the #26 G-Drive OAK back on the lead lap for the time being. Clean stop and he's back in the race.

Sun 06:23 Vilander has edged out an 8-second gap over Gavin in the Corvette following the restart, in the fight for the GTE Am lead.

Sun 06:24 Rast loast a heap of time last lap round in traffic - 15 seconds to second-placed Webber.

Sun 06:25 Tandy bangs in a 3m20.452s. He just needs to control the gap and not take any unnecessary risk. Doing exactly what is needed.

Sun 06:26 Webber brings the second-placed #17 Porsche into the pits for fuel and some polishing.

Sun 06:27 And Webber returns to the track.

Sun 06:28 What are the Toyotas doing, you ask? Well, they are still down in seventh and eighth place. Wurz is in the #2 car, which is lapping five seconds off the leading pace, while Buemi has just brought the #1 into the pits. Neither car is a factor. All Toyota can do is bring them home and hope for drama up ahead.

Sun 06:30 And how about the Rebellions? Well, it's fair to say that, while the Rebellion hasn't quite been quashed, it has been largely subdued. The #13 car driven by Abt is down in 17th, while the #12 car of Beche is 35th.

Sun 06:33 How they stand:

1 #19 Porsche (Tandy)
2 #9 Audi (Rast)
3 #17 Porsche (Webber)
4 #7 Audi (Fassler)
5 #8 Audi (Jarvis)
6 #18 Porsche (Jani)
7 #2 Toyota (Wurz)
8 #1 Toyota (Buemi)

Sun 06:33 You get the feeling Jota fancies a crack at second place. When racing resumed, Turvey was about 3m30s behind Canal. That gap's down to an even three minutes.

Sun 06:34 Fassler is on the move - he's just set the fastest overall sector 3 time of the whole race.

Sun 06:35 The #18 Porsche of Jani is in the pits again. He takes fuel and heads out.

Sun 06:35 The stewards are investigating the #12 Rebellion for driving standards. Beche is at the wheel.

Sun 06:36 Direct from one of Jota's three drivers...

@mitchevans_: Massive night stints from @OliverTurvey @simondolan & I to put us back into a podium position. Still lap down from p2 but we keep pushing on

Sun 06:38 There's a slow zone at the the second Mulsanne chicane thanks to Krohn spinning his Ligier.

Sun 06:41 Pitstops for the two leading GTE Am entries, Dalla Lana is still in the class-leading Aston, Shaytar climbs aboard the pursuing Ferrari.

Sun 06:43 The Krohn car has fired up again, so the tractor is reversing back off the circuit. Slow zone should be cleared shortly.

Sun 06:44 Canal pits in the G-Drive Ligier from second in LMP2, rejoins in the same place.

Sun 06:47 Jarvis brings the #8 Audi in from fifth place, having been running 50s behind the #7 R18 beforehand.

Sun 06:49 This is the GTE Pro story:

1. #51 Ferrari
2. #64 Corvette +8.5s
3. #91 Porsche +2m17s

Sun 06:49 Rast pits the #9 Audi from second, slipping behind the #17 Porsche of Webber.

Sun 06:55 Gavin's moved the Corvette slightly closer to the Ferrari: 6.9s the gap now.

Sun 06:55 1st and 4th place cars are in. That's the #19 Porsche (Tandy) and the #7 Audi (Fassler).

Sun 06:57 Mega pace from Nicki Thiim in the #95 Aston at the moment, a 3m54.725s on one lap and a 3m54.725s the next. Then a personal-best first sector.

That was the first Vantage to drop back with issues (power steering) but has recovered to become the lead AMR car in fifth in GTE Pro.

Sun 06:59 The #55 GTE Am Ferrari has hit trouble on track. Mortimer had been driving very slowly, and now it's struggling down at Indianapolis.

Sun 06:59 Following that stop for the leader, the #19 Porsche (Tandy) leads the #17 Porsche (Webber) by 3m04s (so a little less than a lap).

The #9 Rast Audi in third is also just about on the lead lap, while the #7 Fassler Audi is a lap down, running just behind the leader on track.

Sun 07:02 The GTE Am-leading #98 Aston Martin's just had an off - Paul dalla Lana skated across the gravel on the exit of the Porsche Curves.

It avoided the barriers and has continued. Its lead over the #72 SMP Ferrari was over a minute at the last count.

Sun 07:02 Vilander pits in the GTE Pro-leading #51 Ferrari. A good recovery from AF Corse, which lost ground early on in this race.

Sun 07:06 The #19 Porsche leads the #17 by 2m25s now the latest pitstops have shaken out.

Sun 07:09 Bradley pits from the lead of LMP2 for fuel. The #47 car still has a significant gap back to the #26 G-Drive Ligier.

Sun 07:09 Side-by-side for the lead of GTE Pro...in the pitlane!

Tommy Milner takes over the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R in place of Gavin and rejoins alongside the #51 Ferrari.

Vilander yields, and Milner holds first. Just half a second between them on track.

Sun 07:09 Lead order:

1 #19 Porsche
2 #17 Porsche
3 #9 Audi
4 #7 Audi
5 #8 Audi
6 #18 Porsche
7 #2 Toyota
8 #1 Toyota

Sun 07:10 Yet another spin for the #40 Krohn Ligier.

Sun 07:12 The #12 Rebellion (33rd) picks up a drive-through for abuse of track limits.

Sun 07:13 Vilander is really attacking Milner here, they are practically nose-to-tail.

Milner's had a very good race to be fair, he's driven superbly at times.

Sun 07:14 Webber pits the #17 car from second, so Tandy's lead in the #19 grows again.

Sun 07:15 Webber out, Bernhard in the #17 Porsche, which rejoins third, behind Rast in the #9 Audi.

Sun 07:15 Milner's pulled about a second on Vilander - but there could be trouble on the horizon for the Corvette team.

Its pitstop is under investigation.

Sun 07:16 Bradley's LMP2 advantage in the #47 KCMG ORECA is enormous. He is virtually a whole lap ahead of the #26 G-Drive Ligier, with Turvey's #38 Jota Gibson gradually closing in.

Sun 07:19 Tandy's lead in the #19 Porsche is just over a lap back to Rast in second, while Bernhard is now 11s behind the Audi since taking over the #17 Porsche from Webber.

Sun 07:20 The investigation into the Corvette's stop surrounds its release, which put it alongside the Ferrari. Great viewing, but unsafe?

Sun 07:23 The #42 Strakka Dome has ground to a halt on the pit straight.

Sun 07:24 Another spin for the #40 Krohn car. Just the latest of countless occasions the driver of the green car has ended up red-faced.

Sun 07:24 Bernhard is catching P2 Rast - the gap between the Audi and the Porsche is just 8s now.

Sun 07:25 Turvey in the #38 Jota Gibson is continuing to hunt down Canal in the #26 G-Drive Ligier. The gap was about 2m30s half an hour ago - now it's just over two minutes.

Sun 07:26 Turvey's cause has just been helped by Canal pitting.

Sun 07:26 No further action against the #64 Corvette. Let battle recommence!

Sun 07:29 Tandy was in a slow zone and didn't realise Fassler was alongside him, so the #19 Porsche and #7 Audi banged wheels lightly.

Sun 07:29 Update on Goethe after that hefty shunt in the #96 GTE Am Aston:

@AMR_Official: "Just to let you know that Roald is leaving the medical centre but will have some precautionary x-rays at the local hospital to be safe."

Sun 07:30 Strakka are attempting to get the #42 car back into the race.

@StrakkaRacing: "Trying a ctrl alt del."

Sun 07:31 Fassler got ahead of Tandy on track when the race went green again after the slowzone, meaning the #7 Audi is now just one lap off the lead, along with the #9 Audi and the #17 Porsche (which are separated by just 4s at the moment in their battle for second).

Sun 07:32 Milner's advantage over Vilander in the fight for GTE Pro honours is up to 8.7s now.

Sun 07:33 Turvey pits after a very productive stint during which he got the gap down to the second-placed #26 Ligier to a minute-and-a-half.

Sun 07:35 Rast pits the #9 Audi from second, promoting Bernhard up a place and returning Porsche to a 1-2 out front.

Jarvis has also been in with the #8 Audi.

Sun 07:35 #47 LMP2 leader has stopped - looks like an incident with one of the Nissans.

Sun 07:36 In actual fact the KCMG had already pulled off with a problem before the Nissan arrived on the scene

Sun 07:37 Pla brings the #23 Nissan back to the pits. It's currently running 44th.

Sun 07:37 Bradley's advantage was over four minutes, but can he get the ORECA going again?

Sun 07:37 The #47 is now on the move, but it's still unclear how much time that has cost Bradley.

Sun 07:38 Meanwhile, the Strakka has again ground to a halt. The Ctrl Alt Del didn't work.

Sun 07:39 Canal crosses the line in the #26 Ligier and Bradley's lead in #47 has been cut to just 1m25s - it was over four minutes before the problem struck.

Sun 07:41 Whatever Bradley's problem was it doesn't seem to be affecting him now as he's immediately back on the pace of the other LMP2 cars.

Sun 07:41 Bernhard (#17 Porsche) leads Rast (#9 Audi) by 56s, which could almost be enough to allow him to complete a fuel-only stop and stay ahead. It would certainly be very close if the Porsche came in any time soon - remember, he was only 4s behind the Audi before Rast made his last stop.

Sun 07:42 Tandy brings the leading #19 Porsche in for fuel, and a few seconds ahead of him Fassler pits from P4 in the #7 Audi.

Interestingly, Tandy gets out ahead, spending six seconds less in the pits than the Audi.

Sun 07:43 @BrendonHartley: "Our red #17 is running P3 with 5 hours 20 to go. #19 @Porsche is leading!!! All still to play for."

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Sun 07:44 The third-placed Porsche pits and Jorg Bergmeister continues.

Sun 07:44 The (minor) clash between the #7 Audi and the #19 Porsche (which leads the race) during a slow zone on the start/finish straight is under investigation.

To refresh those of you who missed it, Tandy and Fassler made very slight side-to-side contact in the slow zone, seemingly because Tandy was unaware the Audi was alongside him at the time.

Sun 07:45 Bernhard pumps in the best lap so far for the #17 Porsche, a 3m18.186s for the second-placed car.

Sun 07:49 The #64 Corvette leads the #51 Ferrari by 9.2s in GTE Pro. This fight will continue for a few more laps before the next stops.

Sun 07:49 Strakka still haven't given up getting back in the race.

@StrakkaRacing: "We are sending technicians trackside to see if manual gearshift procedure will get car running - update when we can."

Sun 07:52 Bernhard continues to outpace the #9 Audi of Rast, which was only 4s ahead of him before it pitted. The #17 Porsche continues to put in sub-3m20s laps, so he's building a cushion that could be enough to incorporate a stop of his own and give Porsche a legitimate one-two at the front.

Sun 07:52 Thiim continues to be arguably the star of the GTE Pro race. The Dane deserves more from his work in the #95 car.

Since pitting he's pumped in the following flying laps:

3m56.865s
3m56.886s
3m57.605s
3m55.707s
3m55.551s
3m55.803s

That's taken the #95 to a second behind the #71 Ferrari in the fight for fourth.

Sun 07:55 Strong pace between the two leaders as well, with the gap 8.8s. It's ebbing and flowing between the Corvette and the Ferrari.

Sun 07:56 A new fastest lap for the #72 car as Victor Shaytar continues his impressive performance. It's over a minute and a half behind the #98 Aston but the pace difference between Shaytar and Lauda is probably going to be a couple of seconds on average.

Sun 07:56 Bradley pits from the lead of LMP2, will he still maintain an advantage over the #26 Ligier?

Sun 07:58 The answer is yes, but the #47 KCMG ORECA's gap has now diminished further.

Sun 08:01 As expected, Bernhard was able to make a stop and still emerge ahead of the #9 Audi, so Porsche's 1-2 position at the top gets stronger with five hours to go.

Sun 08:02 Fun moment for one of the SMP LMP2 entries, which skipped over the gravel at the first Mulsanne chicane. Patterson has also spun, exiting Mulsanne corner in the fourth-placed Murphy entry.

Sun 08:03 A rather dejected confirmation that the race is over for the #42 Strakka Dome.

@StrakkaRacing: "Afraid that it is over for us."

Sun 08:07 The two GTE Pro leaders have stopped, and a long stay in the pits for the #51 Ferrari as Bruni takes over from Vilander hands the Corvette a 24-second lead.

This might be the biggest test of the race for Milner in the Chevy. So far he's handled everything thrown at him.

Sun 08:09 Time for another Nissan update - and yes, it's more problems for the Japanese cars.

‏@NISMO: "Last stop for the No.23 was to bleed the brakes to solve a long brake pedal. No.22 was having gearbox worked on."

Sun 08:09 Thiim pits the #95 Aston. Has he done enough to jump Rigon? The Italian had a long stop for fuel and tyres.

Sun 08:11 It goes from bad and worse for the #99 Aston, which crashed earlier while firmly in the fight for the win and has now been reported to the stewards for speeding in the pitlane.

Sun 08:12 Pitstop for the #26 G-Drive Ligier, in second place. Seemed straightforward enough with Canal swapped for Rusinov, but it was followed by a slight stutter leaving the bay.

The Honda-powered OAK has also stopped, with Vanthoor still behind the wheel.

Sun 08:14 The answer to the question 'has the #95 Aston done enough to get ahead of the #71 Ferrari' is a resounding yes.

Sorensen's in the car now and 4.2s clear of Rigon.

Sun 08:15 Left-rear puncture for the #37 SMP BRE-Nissan. Aleshin is bringing it back to the pits, the car is 15th and last of those still running in LMP2.

Sun 08:15 Another stop in the books for Jota, Evans stays in the car and third place.

Sun 08:16 Since emerging from his most recent stop still ahead of the #9 Audi, Bernhard has set about putting time into Rast to solidify Porsche's 1-2. He's currently more than 40s clear of the leading Audi.

Sun 08:19 Olivier Beretta is in the #71 not Rigon. Timing screen took a while to register the driver change. Explains the slow stop.

At the front, Bruni's quicker than Milner for the first time this race. There are 26 seconds between them, can the Ferrari man haul in the Corvette?

Sun 08:19 The quickest LMP1 cars at the moment are the #17 Porsche and the #7 Audi - 2nd and 4th respectively. Both Bernhard and Fassler have been down to 3m19-20s territory in this stint.

Sun 08:20 Long stop here for the Murphy entry, following Patterson's spin earlier. Now down to sixth.

Sun 08:21 Rast pits the #9 Audi, at the end of a stint where Bernhard has hammered home Porsche's advantage in the fight for second. Just a couple of pitstop cycles ago Rast was ahead of the #17 Porsche, but now that's out of the question.

Sun 08:23 @MurphyPrototype: Bad news for #murphysmen, the car is in the pits with what looks like terminal damage - more to follow soon

Sun 08:24 Beretta's now all over Sorensen for fourth in GTE Pro.

Another quick lap from Bruni – the #51's best lap of the race, a 3m54.214s – cuts Milner's advantage to 22.5s.

Sun 08:25 Shunt for the #72 SMP Ferrari! Shaytar undoes all his great work from earlier by running across the gravel at Indianapolis and nosing the tyre barrier.

That car was a comfortable second in class.

Sun 08:26 So, out front, Tandy enjoys a one-lap lead over Bernhard in a Porsche one-two (#19 + #17). Bernhard's relentless pace since he got into the #17 car has put Audi in the shade, and now it's up to Bonanomi to try to repair the damage suffered during Rast's time at the wheel of the #9, which runs third.

Fassler, in the #7 Audi, has had decent pace this morning, but he's a large chunk of a lap behind his team-mate (and has just come into the pits).

Sun 08:28 Lotterer takes over the #7 Audi from Fassler, and he rejoins 2m24s adrift of Bonanomi in the #9 car that occupies third.

Sun 08:29 The slow zone - called to deal with the SMP car - has hurt Bruni, who lost a couple of seconds to Milner than lap. The gap's back up to 25s.

Sun 08:29 @MurphyPrototype: "The guys at @oreca have sourced us a new rear end for the car and the crew are working frantically to get the car back on track. Still P6."

Sun 08:30 Tandy pits the leading #19 Porsche, which puts Bernhard briefly back on the lead lap in the #17 car.

Sun 08:32 After only a few laps, the #95 pits. That's odd. Meanwhile the #72 Ferrari has been returned to the pits and the slow zone is cleared.

Sun 08:34 The slow zone cleared in time for Bruni, but not Milner ahead of him. So looks like the gap's been slashed to just 11 seconds.

Sun 08:37 Milner's wounded and Bruni can sniff blood. A much faster lap cuts the gap between the leaders to 9.2s.

Sun 08:38 While we have the leading Porsches on the same lap, Tandy leads Bernhard by 2m36s.

Audis #9, #7, #8 lead the chase, but they are off the lead lap and the frontrunning R18 is not on the pace of the Porsches.

Sun 08:39 Bergmeister stops and Lietz takes over the #91 Porsche in third.

The #95 Aston, meanwhile, remains in the pits.

Sun 08:39 More trouble for the ByKolles team:

@ByKOLLES: "Back to the pits - again the engine."

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Sun 08:40 Here's how it looks in LMP2, following last hour's drama.

1 #47 KCMG ORECA, Bradley
2 #26 G-Drive (OAK) Ligier, Rusinov +2m10s
3 #38 Jota Gibson, Evans +2m55s
4 #28 G-Drive (OAK) Ligier, Gonzalez +3 laps
5 #34 OAK Racing Ligier, Vanthoor +3 laps

KCMG is a pitstop behind G-Drive, essentially, while Jota keeps getting closer and closer to second place. Evans took two seconds out of Rusinov that last time around alone.

Meanwhile, Murphy is back out there with Berthon after a lengthy stop to repair some damage. The car is sixth, 10 laps down.

Sun 08:41 Another 3m55s lap for Bruni and the lead is trimmed further - Milner's Chevy just 7.8s up the road from the Ferrari.

Sun 08:43 The #7 Audi has pace in the hands of Lotterer - who pumps in a 3m18.404s. Unfortunately for Audi, it's not the car leading the chase at the moment. It could do with those sort of laptimes from the #9 car that sits third.

Bernhard pits the #17 from second place, so Tandy's lead in the #19 goes back to more than one lap.

Sun 08:44 Bradley's stint is over, he's out of the KCMG ORECA as Lapierre steps in.

Sun 08:46 Bruni since taking over the #51 Ferrari:

3m58.767s
3m56.742s
3m55.796s
3m54.991s
3m58.464s
3m55.919s
3m55.567s
3m55.811s

The gap is now 5.9s.

Sun 08:49 LMP1 update, running through the top five:

#19 (Tandy) leads #17 (Bernhard) by 1 lap

#17 (Bernhard) leads #9 (Bonanomi) by 1m56s

#9 (Bonanomi) leads #7 (Lotterer) by 1m43s

#7 (Lotterer) leads #8 (Duval) by 52s

Sun 08:52 Right now, the most likely 'scrap' we'll have on our hands later in the race is between the #9 and #7 Audis for the final step on the podium. Lotterer is quicker than Bonanomi, who took over after Rast also struggled for pace in the #9.

Still more than 4 hours to go though, so the race could come alive elsewhere in that time.

Sun 08:52 Corvette to Ferrari: 4.4s. Still Bruni continues to chip away.

Next time round it's 3.2s.

Sun 08:54 Sorensen's finally left the pits in the #95 Aston Martin.

He's fallen to 33rd overall and lost five laps.

Sun 08:54 Bad news for Lotterer's progress in the #7 - the car has picked up a drive-through penalty for Fassler's part in the clash with the leading #19 Porsche in a slow zone.

Hard for Audi to argue that one, really, as Lotterer brings the #7 Audi in from fourth.

Sun 08:55 Lotterer's pitlane time serving that penalty was 30s, so he still has a buffer of around 20-25s back to Duval in the #8 Audi.

Sun 08:55 The latest news from Nissan - and unsurprisingly, it's not good.

@NISMO: "No.22 back in to do some more work on the gearbox. Still a hangover from the damage sustained from hitting debris during the night."

Sun 08:55 Another pitstop from G-Drive. It had been running 55 seconds behind KCMG before peeling into pitlane. Rusinov remains behind the wheel, it elevates Evans in the Jota Gibson to second.

Sun 08:55 Beretta pits the #71 Ferrari from fourth place.

Sun 08:57 Bruni's just two seconds behind Milner now, and the Ferrari continues to take time out of the Corvette in the first sector.

Could a move come this lap?

Sun 08:57 Evans has now pitted as well, so G-Drive will be back up to second when the Jota entry rejoins the race.

Sun 09:00 Message from race control says the track has been declared wet. Surprising, as there are no signs of rain at the moment, but clouds have been gathering over the course of the morning.

Sun 09:01 A 1m25s stop-go penalty for the #99 Aston for the speeding in the pitlane infringement.

Sun 09:02 The Ferrari leads! Milner and Bruni pit as one, but the Corvette team has to swap out Milner for Taylor and thus the C7.R remains in the pits for 28 extra seconds.

Bruni leads in the #51 Ferrari.

Sun 09:02 @PorscheRaces: "Some rain reported on main straight."

Sun 09:05 Corvette Racing has a spotter at Mulsanne Corner, and he is reporting rain from there.

Sun 09:06 Drama for the second-placed #17 Porsche - it gets caught up behind a GTE Ferrari heading into Turn 1, and in taking avoiding action Bernhard goes for a very long trip through the gravel, rejoining at the exit of the first chicane. It cost him around four seconds.

Sun 09:09 An explanation of the #9 car's lack of pace this morning, from Rast on Twitter:

"Unfortunately we have some difficulties with our hybrid..."

Sun 09:09 Lapierre, with KCMG a pitstop behind its rivals, sets a new personal best for the ORECA, a 3m36.861s. It leads by Rusinov in the G-Drive entry by two minutes, while Evans is just a further 20 seconds behind.

Sun 09:11 Slippery surface reported at the beginning of the Mulsanne straight, and at the first chicane.

Sun 09:12 We've got Tandy (1st) and Lotterer (4th) in for stops.

Sun 09:13 In the start-finish grandstand, a gentleman is proudly flying New Zealand's silver fern on a flag. He's got a few options to be waving it in four hours.

Both of the lead Porsches contain a Kiwi, Earl Bamber in #19 and Brendon Hartley in #17, while Mitch Evans is chasing second in LMP2.

Sun 09:13 A lengthy spell in the pits for the #91 Porsche has now dropped it out of third. The #71 provisionally takes the final podium slot.

Sun 09:14 Another puncture for SMP's LMP2, Markozov has brought the #27 back into pitlane. The tyre carcass is stuck out on Mulsanne.

Sun 09:14 Tandy has handed the race-leading car over to Bamber.

Sun 09:15 Bruni's lead over Jordan Taylor is 48.8s. When it stops the Ferrari could yet stay ahead of the Corvette.

Sun 09:15 The #53 Viper is another car encountering problems.

‏@jbleekemolen: "We've lost 1st and 2nd gear, so will just try to bring it home. We won't give up but I would have loved to fight for the podium!"

Sun 09:23 Either the slow zone brought the Corvette some time back, or the timing screen was misleading before - Bruni's lead over Taylor is actually around the half-minute mark.

Sun 09:23 Unfortunately for the two Nissans that are still in the race, neither of them will be classified finishers even if they are still rolling at the finish.

You have to complete 70 per cent of the winner's distance, and it's strongest car is behind that with no chance of being able to get any closer.

Sun 09:23 Bernhard was the main LMP1 runner to get hurt by the latest slow zone for that rogue LMP2 tyre - he ended up doing a 4m00s lap while everyone else was in the low 3m20s. He's 2m20s behind Bamber in the race-leading #19 Porsche.

Sun 09:23 The #92 Porsche remains in the pits for "maintenance work".

Sun 09:24 Apparently, the rain is intensifying:

‏@AMR_Official: "There is rain here at Le Mans, particularly at Mulsanne corner. Could there be a late twist to the tale?"

Sun 09:27 Lapierre ticks over onto KCMG's 302nd lap. He leads Rusinov by 1m55s, with Evans a further 32s behind. The latter's charge has slowed somewhat in recent laps.

In fourth and firth, Vanthoor and Gonzales have pitted in their OAK and G-Drive-run Ligiers. Vanthoor hands over to Estre, Gonzales to Yacaman.

Sun 09:28 Bernhard brings the #17 Porsche in from second, 2m31s behind the leading #19 car.

Sun 09:31 After another 12-lap stint, Lapierre pits for fuel and rejoins the race.

Having stopped a lap earlier, the #28 G-Drive entry has been handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in pitlane. And the #35 OAK entry - one we've not mentioned much - has received a stop-go.

Sun 09:31 ‏@Scuderia_Corsa: "@townsendbell in #62 @Ferrari flying in 3:59.287 on wet @24hoursoflemans! 3Hrs30min to go, 279laps completed."

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Sun 09:32 Bernhard rejoins just ahead of Bamber, and he lets the race leader by with ease out of Arnage to fall one lap down again in second.

Sun 09:33 The #9 Audi is pushed into the garage. Could this be related to the hybrid system problem Rast said was affecting the car's pace?

Bonanomi brought the car in from third, but at this rate Lotterer is going to take that position in the #7 car. Sure enough, through he goes.

Sun 09:33 This will further ease the pressure on Porsche, which now has two cars in an even more commanding position. As it stands, the only thing that can stop the #19 Porsche from winning is a failure or a blunder.

Sun 09:34 The #17 Porsche is passed by the #7 Audi this lap - that gets the Audi (3rd) back on the same lap as the second-placed car it has just overtaken.

#9 Audi still in the garage, with front bodywork off.

Sun 09:35 Bonanomi rejoins the action after 3m17s in the pits, with Audi only describing it as an "unscheduled stop" for the moment.

It's dropped to 5th, behind the #8 Audi as well now.

Bonanomi Le Mans 2015

Sun 09:35 Stop-go penalty with an engine restart for the fourth-placed GTE Am Riley Viper.

Sun 09:36 Bird is back in the #26 G-Drive entry, replacing Rusinov. The team has relinquished second place to Evans in the Jota car.

Sun 09:36 More problems for the #9 - Bonanomi goes straight on at the second Mulsanne chicane on his outlap after that visit to the Audi garage.

Sun 09:37 Lietz rejoins in the #91 Porsche, which has lost over half an hour with a gearbox leak. It's now behind the #95 Aston, so fifth in GTE Pro.

Sun 09:40 ‏@MHowsonRacing: "Less than 4 hours to go and we still lead here at Le Mans, Nico is flying! Rain falling, it's not over yet #LeMans."

Sun 09:41 Bird is only in third briefly. Evans pits on the very next lap and the G-Drive second, Jota third rapport we've all come to know and love in recent hours is back again. Now, though, Evans is within seven seconds of Bird.

Lapierre is a further 2m15s up the road.

Sun 09:41 @Audi__Sport: "The No. 9 crew checked the steering on the car - all okay, but wanted to be sure"

Sun 09:45 Lotterer is still charging in 3rd, lapping in the 3m20s while the Porsches ahead of him are in the 3m21-23s range at the moment.

Lotterer has just gained a lap back on the leading #19 car, meaning he is just inside two laps down.

Sun 09:46 The Lotterer charge continues - he sets a new fastest lap in the third-placed #7 Audi: 3m17.476s.

Sun 09:47 Bird has responded to the threat of Evans with the #26's best lap of the day, a 3m37.884s effort. He's now the best part of 10 seconds clear.

Sun 09:47 There's not been much to say on the GTE fight, but Taylor's set the #64 Corvette's best time in pursuit of Bruni.

A 3m54.823s helps get the gap to the Ferrari down to 17 seconds or so.

Sun 09:49 We've got another Audi being wheeled into the garage - this time it's the #8 car from fourth place. Bonanomi goes through in the #9, so he's up to fourth.

Sun 09:50 There are 44 rookies in this race, and if nothing changes, two of them are going to be in the winning car - Nico Hulkenberg and Earl Bamber.

Sun 09:50 The #8 Audi returns to the track with di Grassi at the wheel, after 3m10s in the pits.

Sun 09:53 Here's how it stands:

1 #19 Porsche (Bamber)
2 #17 Porsche (Bernhard)
3 #7 Audi (Lotterer)
4 #9 Audi (Bonanomi)
5 #8 Audi (Di Grassi)
6 #18 Porsche (Dumas)
7 #2 Toyota (Sarrazin)
8 #1 Toyota (Nakajima)

Sun 09:55 The #19 Porsche has a lead of a lap over the #18 car, so there's no possibility of that being closed on pace without another factor intervening.

Sun 09:55 Update from Audi after that latest lengthy stop

@Audi__Sport: "Crew of car No. 8 changed and fixed the engine cover. Lost just over 2 minutes in the pit garage."

Sun 09:56 Every now and again, it's worth mentioning how the Toyotas are getting on. Last time we looked (and the time before that, and the time before that etc) its two cars were seventh and eighth and well off the pace of the Porsches and the Audis. Well, nothing has changed...

Sun 09:56 Bamber dives in for fuel in the leading #19 Porsche.

Sun 09:57 We've also got Bonanomi in for fuel in the #9 Audi.

Sun 09:57 And he's being wheeled into the garage.

Sun 09:59 Finally some good news from Nissan:

@NISMO: "The No.22 is back in the race! No.23 still being worked on."

Sun 10:00 The #9 Audi is still being worked on in the garage.

Sun 10:02 Lapierre's march continues into the final three hours. KCMG leads by 2m13s, and he's just set a new fastest lap for the car - 3m36.836s.

Sun 10:03 Currently, Dumas in the #18 Porsche is the fastest on the track. He did a 3m19.590s last time round. That car is in fifth and 80.6s behind the #8 Audi.

Sun 10:04 The #8 Audi has returned to the pits. It is not yet clear what has caused this unscheduled stop.

Sun 10:06 And the #8 Audi of Di Grassi returns to the track. That's closed up the battle for fourth.

Sun 10:06 Bird has stretched his advantage over Evans to 16 seconds in the fight for second.

Sun 10:08 This is the GTE Pro order:

1. #51 Ferrari
2. #64 Corvette
3. #71 Ferrari
4. #95 Aston
5. #91 Porsche

And the GTE Pro story so far:

* #51 Ferrari fights back from early delay to lead

* #64 Corvette remains firmly in contention

* #71 Ferrari runs third after changing starter motor early on

* Sole remaining Porsche loses podium slot to gearbox leak; other 911 RSR expired in fiery fashion in the first couple of hours

* AMR out of Pro fight following a crash for the #99, delays for the #95 and engine failure for the #97

Bruni Le Mans 2015

Sun 10:10 The #9 Audi remains in the pits. It won't be too much longer before it loses sixth place to the #2 Toyota.

Sun 10:10 @alexkapadia: "Done 9hrs in the car now. Back hurts and foot is slightly numb. Will be getting back in car for the last two stints. #justneedtofinish"

Sun 10:11 The real battle of interest on screen was between the #77 Porsche and #62 Ferrari for third in GTE Am.

Patrick Long and Townsend Bell have been trading blows for a while but it ends in tears for the Ferrari when Bell tries to force the issue round the outside at Mulsanne Corner and ends up spinning.

Sun 10:11 Talking of Kapadia, the #67 Porsche he is part of the crew of is currently ninth in GTE Am.

Sun 10:12 Lotterer has certainly been pushing on in the #7 Audi. He is well under the 3m20s mark in third place.

Sun 10:13 The #17 Porsche is in the pits for fuel, tyres and a driver change. Bernhard out, Hartley in.

Sun 10:14 Vilander's driven well and neutralised the threat from Taylor in the early laps of this stint. The gap is up to 6.6s at the front.

Sun 10:14 The #2 Toyota has moved up to sixth place thanks to the #9 Audi still being in the garage.

Sun 10:14 Like clockwork, another 12-lap, approximately 45-minute KCMG stint is in the books. Lapierre pits and goes back on his way. Three more stops will get them to 3pm.

Sun 10:15 The #9 Audi returns to the track with Albuquerque now at the wheel.

Sun 10:17 Lapierre has stopped the KCMG on the escape road at Indianapolis. They had a moment like this a couple of hours ago, but were able to restart and continue.

Sun 10:17 So Albuquerque now has to chase the #2 Toyota, currently driven by Conway, to get back into the top six. It will take a while, even though the Toyota isn't particularly quick.

Sun 10:18 With a push back down the hill from the officials, Lapierre is able to restart the car and continue. Led by 1m38s before that moment, but it'll be a lot tighter now.

Sun 10:18 The #9 Audi was in the pits for 18m28s.

Sun 10:19 The #22 Nissan of Tincknell is being declared slow by race control. It's down in 22nd place with no hope of being a classified finisher even if it reaches the chequered flag.

Sun 10:19 Replays suggest it might have been a good, old-fashioned 'off' for Lapierre through the gravel, rather than the car stopping as it did earlier.

Sun 10:20 @Audi__Sport: "No. 9 rejoins after 17m in the pit garage. Crew changed front left driveshaft."

Sun 10:20 Di Grassi has a lead of only 22s over the #18 Porsche of Dumas in the battle for fourth.

Sun 10:20 Behind him, Bird has pitted and rejoined the race, while Evans has handed the Jota over to Turvey.

Sun 10:21 Di Grassi is responding to the pressure and sets the fastest first sector of the race for the #8 Audi.

Sun 10:21 The net result of Lapierre's excursion and those pitstops is that KCMG leads by 1m10s, with Turvey a further 36s behind.

Sun 10:22 The #18 Porsche pits from fifth place. Dumas takes on fuel.

Sun 10:22 They are also changing the tyres. But there is no driver change.

Sun 10:24 Lotterer still cracking on. He just did a 3m19.497s.

Sun 10:25 Remarkably, there are still 43 cars being scored in this race - although the two cars at the back, the #23 and the #22 Nissan, are both in the pits.

Sun 10:25 Still the GTE battle continues, and still the gap is eight seconds - Vilander not giving much away, Taylor not giving up at all.

In GTE Am, Bell has caught Long - let that particular fight recommence.

Sun 10:28 The #9 Audi pitstop is under investigation. The reason is not yet clear.

Sun 10:30 Here comes Bell, drafting the Porsche down the Mulsanne. Long defends, Bell tries to go round the outside in the same places as before - but thinks better of it this time.

Sun 10:30 Lotterer is 2m26s behind the second-placed #18 Porsche. He's lapping rapidly, but not anywhere near fast enough to catch him.

Sun 10:30 Bell's just copped a 15-second stop-go penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Sun 10:31 Calado's pit the #71 Ferrari. Looked like a slightly tardy getaway, but he's back on track now.

Sun 10:31 Di Grassi bangs in the fastest middle sector for the #8 Audi. The middle sector runs from Tertre Rouge to Mulsanne Corner.

Sun 10:34 All calm at the front of the LMP2 field. Lapierre leads by 1m10s over Bird, with Turvey a further 32s behind. Laptimes are not dissimilar, they can all get to the end with three stops.

Sun 10:35 Di Grassi has just set the fastest lap for the #8 Audi on a 3m18.420s. That's a second off the overall fastest lap, set by Lotterer in the #7 Audi.

Sun 10:37 Dumas is trying to unlap himself on the Lotterer Audi.

Sun 10:37 Jota driver Dolan sums up the mood in the garage with a pair of tweets. Of course, the team came from way down the order to win LMP2 here 12 months ago.

@simondolan: Well this is stressful…
@simondolan: Deja vu anyone?

Sun 10:38 Di Grassi improved the fastest lap of the #8 Audi to a 3m17.831s last time round.

Sun 10:40 Bamber brings the #19 Porsche into the pits from the lead - with Lotterer also bringing in the #7 Audi from third.

Sun 10:41 The #7 Audi has been rolled into the garage for some work.

Sun 10:41 Meanwhile, the lead #19 Porsche returns to the track after taking on fuel.

Sun 10:43 Estre pits from fourth in the Honda-powered OAK, rejoins in the same place. He's got a lap on fifth-placed Yacaman in the second G-Drive entry.

Sun 10:45 The #7 Audi was in the garage for an oil top up. Treluyer returns to the track in third place after taking over from Lotterer.

Sun 10:46 Vilander's got the Ferrari's lead up to 13 seconds, at this stage the AF Corse car looks like it's got just about enough.

Sun 10:46 The #7 Audi is back in again. And again, it's being wheeled back into the garage.

Sun 10:46 The status quo remains in GTE Am also, with the #95 Aston two laps to the good.

Sun 10:47 The #7 Audi has been rolled back out of the garage and gets back onto the track in the hands of Treluyer. It's still holding third place.

Sun 10:48 The reason behind the latest #7 stop.

‏@Audi__Sport: "Lap 356, 12.46 pit stop No. 7 to fix the engine cover, fuel."

Sun 10:49 The fourth-placed #8 Audi is in the pits in the hands of Di Grassi. Fuel goes in, di Grassi heads back out.

Sun 10:50 An off-track excursion from the #95 Aston, but it's hardly going to make a difference to its result.

Sun 10:51 Hartley is lapping rapidly in the #17 Porsche - he's in the 3m19s.

Hartley Le Mans 2015

Sun 10:53 The two leading GTE Pro cars pit together.

Sun 10:55 Taylor's out of the Corvette, in jumps Gavin - and he's got new tyres, too.

Vilander's already on his way though. No new rubber for the Ferrari, and that means he spends 23 seconds fewer in the pitlane.

Sun 10:56 With just over two hours to go, the #19 Porsche of Bamber has the race completely under control, while time lost by the #7 Audi recently means that the #17 Porsche driven by Hartley has second place wrapped up.

Provided, of course, nothing goes wrong. The Le Mans 24 Hours has been lost much later than this in the past...

Sun 10:57 Fourth-placed di Grassi is 90s behind the third-placed #7 Audi of Treluyer.

The Brazilian's #8 Audi has been playing catchup since early on after Loic Duval shunted approaching a slow zone at Indianapolis.

Sun 10:58 The second-placed #17 Porsche is in the pits. Hartley is staying in and taking on fuel.

Sun 11:00 The two Toyotas are still pounding round, with #2 (Conway) and #1 (Nakajima) in sixth and eighth places respectively. The Toyotas have tended to float around the five or six seconds off the pace mark for much of the race...more than the team anticipated.

Sun 11:01 @MurphyPrototype: "Small bit of moisture in the air but doesn't look like we will have any sort of proper rain until after the race."

Sun 11:05 How things stand up front:

1 #19 Porsche (Bamber)
2 #17 Porsche (Hartley)
3 #7 Audi (Treluyer)
4 #8 Audi (Treluyer)
5 #18 Porsche (Dumas)
6 #2 Toyota (Conway)
7 #9 Audi (Albuquerque)
8 #1 Toyota (Nakajima)

Sun 11:07 Pitstops for the top three in LMP2 as we entered the penultimate hour. Lapierre had a slower stop, but still leads Bird by 53 seconds. Turvey is a further 12 seconds behind.

Sun 11:07 Dumas brings the fifth-placed 18 Porsche into the pits.

Sun 11:08 Change of lead in GTE Pro as the #51 Ferrari slows and comes into the pits for work.

Sun 11:09 The AF Corse car has several laps in hand over the #71 Calado car, but this has denied the fight with the #64 Corvette continuing to the flag.

Sun 11:12 The #19 Porsche continues to make seemingly serene progress. Bamber leads by a lap with just over an hour-and-three-quarters to go.

Sun 11:13 @mitchevans_: Just under 2 hours to go, we are P3 65sec off the lead and 12sec off P2. @OliverTurvey in till the end now. It's game on!! #LeMans24h

Sun 11:13 The #51 Ferrari is still in the pits. Its battle with the Corvette had been one of the highlights of the race after a lengthy pitstop lost it ground early in the race.

Sun 11:14 Nissan is still battling hard to get its cars to the end. Both #22 (Krumm) and #23 (Krumm) are still on track.

Sun 11:15 Di Grassi is putting together a decent stint in the #8 Audi. Just turned a lap in the 3m18s.

Sun 11:16 Lamy now pits the #98 Aston from the GTE Am lead. His advantage at the front of the class was about two laps and there's no sign of a challenge from behind.

Sun 11:18 Frantic work continues at the back of the #51 Ferrari. Gavin's GTE Pro advantage in the #64 Corvette has stretched to two laps already.

Sun 11:21 The #22 Nissan, driven by Krumm, has picked up a puncture. It's last of the cars that are still in the race, so that's not going to cost it anything in terms of position.

Sun 11:24 Turvey has closed the gap to Bird again, he's now within six seconds of the second-placed Ligier. Lapierre still leads by 54 seconds.

Sun 11:27 The Honda-powered OAK, which has been running fourth, is limping back to the pits with Vanthoor behind the wheel.

Sun 11:27 Porsche puts Hulkenberg in the race-leading #19 car for the finish. He rejoins with a fresh set of tyres on the 919 and just over 90 minutes to go.

Sun 11:30 The leading Porsches (#19, #17) are back on the same lap following the stop (and driver change) for the frontrunner.

Sun 11:31 Turvey is now less than three seconds behind Bird.

Sun 11:32 Stops for the #7 and #8 Audis, which occupy third and fourth at the moment, some way off the lead Porsches.

Sun 11:33 Hulkenberg leads Hartley by 2m30s out front.

The two leading Audis are separated by over 2 minutes as well, in the 'battle' for third.

Sun 11:34 More negative Nissan news:

‏@NISMO: "Rear suspension issue on the No.22. We will fix it, and we will finish."

Sun 11:35 Turvey gets past Bird, Jota is up to second, a world away from where they were 22 hours ago.

Sun 11:39 The #51 Ferrari has finally emerged from the pits. It has retained third in GTE Pro and is two minutes ahead of the #95 Aston.

Sun 11:39 An hour and 20 minutes to go and Gavin's cruising in the Corvette - but in the unofficial 'GTE podium' we've got Am cars second and third!

In Pro, second is a fine reward for the #71 Ferrari after its qualifying woes.

Sun 11:40 LMP1 order - 1h20m to go:

1 #19 Porsche
2 #17 Porsche
3 #7 Audi
4 #8 Audi
5 #18 Porsche
6 #2 Toyota
7 #9 Audi
8 #1 Toyota

Sun 11:46 What should be the penultimate pitstops in LMP2 have been completed cleanly. Lapierre still leads Turvey and Bird with 73 minutes remaining.

Sun 11:46 Rain reported at the second Mulsanne chicane.

Sun 11:47 Gavin pits in the class-leading Corvette, which is miles clear now. This would be a third Le Mans class win for Gavin.

Sun 11:50 LMP2 order with 70 minutes to go:

1 #47 ORECA (Lapierre)
2 #38 Gibson (Tuvey)
3 #26 Ligier (Bird)
4 #28 Ligier (Derani)
5 #34 Ligier (Vanthoor)
6 #48 ORECA (Chandhok)

Sun 11:52 Rain is now being reported at Indianapolis.

Sun 11:53 Dumas hands over the #18 Porsche, which started the race in pole position, to Jani. The car is in fifth, having fallen down the order when both drivers involved in this switch went off at the end of the Mulsanne Straight in very similar fashion in the night.

Sun 11:56 Krohn in the #40 Ligier is crawling back to the pits with a left-rear puncture. That's the legacy of a collision with another LMP2 car at the Ford Chicane.

Sun 12:02 @NISMO: "13:58. Thanks for all your fantastic support. We are now all willing the No.22 home. 1 hour to go."

Sun 12:03 Di Grassi muscles his way through some traffic, including the #17 Porsche which is clearly in 'get home safe' mode now with Hartley at the wheel in second place.

Sun 12:05 Di Grassi's #8 Audi is 1m28s behind the podium-sitting #7 of Treluyer, and replays show the #7 car is still pushing, with a big slide coming out of Mulsanne corner.

Sun 12:08 The leading Porsches are still lapping in 3m22-23s roughly, so they're not exactly crawling to the finish. Treluyer's Audi has just set a 3m18s in third.

Sun 12:11 Corvette's advantage is a handsome one to have with 50 minutes remaining, four laps and not a Pro car in sight.

Rigon is still an almost equally comfortable second, while Bruni's not going to have a problem holding third against the #95 Aston Martin provided the Ferrari holds together.

Sun 12:12 In GTE Am, must we remind you who is leading?

It's been sheer dominance from the #98 Aston Martin, which is fluctuating from being a lap ahead of the #72 SMP Ferrari and two laps ahead.

Sun 12:13 So, with 50 minutes remaining, here's how things stand:

Overall
1 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg)
2 #17 Porsche (Hartley)
3 #7 Audi (Treluyer)
4 #8 Audi (Di Grassi)
5 #18 Porsche (Jani)
6 #2 Toyota (Conway)
7 #9 Audi (Albuquerque)
8 #1 Toyota (Buemi)

LMP2
1 #47 ORECA (Lapierre)
2 #38 Gibson (Turvey)
3 #26 Ligier (Bird)

GTE PRO
1 #64 Corvette (Gavin)
2 #71 Ferrari (Rigon)
3 #51 Ferrari (Bruni)

GTE AM
1 #98 Aston Martin (Dalla Lana)
2 #72 Ferrari (Bertolini)
3 #77 Porsche (Seefried)

Sun 12:14 We wrote too soon!

Paul dalla Lana has had a huge shunt in the #98 Aston. The front end is wrecked.

The car speared left on the entrance to the first part of the Ford chicane and ploughed into the wall.

Sun 12:15 The rear wheels of the #98 spin desperately as dalla Lana tries to get it moving, but the Vantage is well and truly stuck.

Sun 12:18 Marshals are finally attending to the stricken Aston, which is slowly being moved.

Dalla Lana is out of the car and looks shaken, but is hopefully uninjured. That was a big hit.

The #72 Ferrari will probably take the lead in a couple of laps.

Sun 12:18 So, while it's all drama in GTE Pro, the two Porsches are still circulating happily in first and second overall.

Sun 12:18 The #8 Audi of Di Grassi heads into the pits.

Sun 12:20 Di Grassi returns to the track. Treluyer has also pitted for fuel.

Sun 12:20 With 40 minutes remaining, Lapierre is 60 seconds clear at the front of LMP2. Turvey and Bird are still the balance of the top three.

Sun 12:21 The wreck of the #98 Aston Martin has been cleared up, so the slow zone is gone.

Sun 12:22 Bird pits in the G-Drive entry for - they will hope - one final time, and rejoins the race.

Sun 12:24 Turvey follows Bird's lead and pits aboard the Jota entry. They've had quite a 24 hours - as they did here 12 months ago. A very casual stop with one last fuel load taken on board and the McLaren tester is on his way.

Sun 12:24 The pace is relatively tame at the front, with t leading Porsches circulating 7-9s off their maximum pace. And why not? After al, it's the last 35 minutes and they have a one-two within their grasp. No sense risking any reliability problems or mistakes.

Sun 12:26 Gavin pits the Corvette C7.R from the GTE Pro lead. Just over half an hour to go and the Chevy squad is just stroking it home now.

Sun 12:27 Krohn's eventful day isn't over yet. The #40 has been handed a one-minute stop-go penalty for speeding in pitlane.

If you are part of a sweep on the number of 'decisions' stewards would make during the race, you might be interested to know that that's the 64th.

Sun 12:27 The #72 SMP Ferrari has long since taken the GTE Am lead, with the #77 Proton Porsche through into second as well.

Sun 12:29 Lapierre's work is done. He's pitted for the final time to hand the KCMG entry over to Bradley, who put the car on pole way back on Wednesday night.

Bradley dedicated pole position to his uncle, who passed away during the week - you would expect a similar sentiment is coming post-race.

Sun 12:31 So, Porsche is now 30 minutes away from victory with the #19 (Hulkenberg/Tandy/Bamber) leading the #17 (Bernhard/Hartley/Webber)

Sun 12:33 Has been a fine performance from all three drivers in the #19 car (who have a grand total of two Le Mans starts prior to this race under their belts!)

Sun 12:37 It's been a tough Le Mans for Audi. Currently, Treluyer is third in #7, Di Grassi fourth in #8 and Albuquerque seventh in #9. But it has given Porsche a proper run for its money.

Sun 12:38 As for Toyota, it's been a chastening experience for the reigning Wold Endurance Championship-winning team. It's two cars are sixth and eighth.

Toyota Le Mans 2015

Sun 12:39 Twenty minutes remain and all is well in GTE.

In Pro:

1. #64 Corvette
2. #71 Ferrari
3. #51 Ferrari

In Am:

1. #72 SMP Ferrari
2. #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche
3. #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari

Sun 12:39 The #18 Porsche, in fifth place, has paid what should be its last visit to the pits. Jani at the wheel.

Sun 12:40 Since AUTOSPORT arrived at the circuit on Wednesday morning, we've seen this grandstand in many different states of capacity. It was fairly quiet during practice, then built up on Saturday before the race and gradually thinned out over the evening.

Today, the fans have returned to the start-finish straight, and it's packed with people keen to see the cars greet the chequered flag. They - along with Porsche, KCMG, Corvette and SMP - have 20 minutes to wait.



Sun 12:41 There is still a Nissan on the move - the #22 car of Krumm is running last but on target to take the chequered flag. Unfortunately, it will be some way off the minimum 70 per cent race distance required to be classified as an official finisher.

Sun 12:43 Elsewhere in LMP1, Rebellion has shown some promising pace, but has had too many troubles to get anywhere near last year's fourth-place finish.

The #13 car of Imperatori runs 18th and the #12 machine of Heidfeld is 26th.

Heidfeld Le Mans 2015

Sun 12:45 So, with 15 minutes to go, time for AUTOSPORT to revisit its predictions. Each member of our six-person team at Le Mans called the winner for each of the four classes pre-race. That's a total of 24 predictions.

Our success rate (assuming nothing changes in the final few laps) was 0 per cent. And that shows just how unpredictable Le Mans really is.

Sun 12:45 One final stop for the second G-Drive entry, with Derani currently behind the wheel. He'll drive it home to cross the line in fourth place, one spot behind the Bird-led #26.

Sun 12:46 There are some reports of rain around the circuit, which could spice up the final 15 minutes. The leading #19 Porsche is in the pits for a splash of fuel.

Sun 12:47 Race control informs us it is raining on the Mulsanne Straight.

Sun 12:48 We've had lots of reports of rain spots from various teams and marshals' posts, but this is the first time it's been visible on screen and out of the media centre window. Just over 10 minutes to go.

Sun 12:49 We've had four safety-car periods during this race, totalling 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Sun 12:49 "Slippery surface" reported all the way from the middle of the Mulsanne straight to the Porsche Curves.

Sun 12:50 We are just 10 minutes away from what should be Porsche's record-extending 17th Le Mans 24 Hours win.

Sun 12:51 We still have 40 cars circulating.

Sun 12:51 Lots of folded arms down in the Porsche garage, as its two leading cars try to thread their way around this track for another eight minutes.

Audi boss Wolfgang Ullrich makes his way to the Porsche pit now to offer his congratulations.

Sun 12:52 @MurphyPrototype: "The team is bringing out intermediate tires for @karunchandhok - best play it safe as we have nothing to lose or gain at this stage."

Sun 12:53 Hulkenberg's on-board camera shows his windscreen is now being hit with raindrops. It's not too heavy, yet, and he crosses the line with a 3m25s to suggest things don't look critical on the weather front as things stand.

Sun 12:55 Porsche have decided the victory is nigh - the t-shirts celebrating win number 17 have been brought out!

Sun 12:56 Hulkenberg starts what will be his final lap - the leading car crosses the line with 3m40s on the clock.

Sun 12:58 Through the first sector now, Gavin is about three minutes from GTE Pro victory for Corvette.

Sun 12:58 The GTE Am-leading #SMP Ferrari has a bit longer, but is also on course for class glory.

Sun 12:59 Here's what Hulkenberg, who is about to take the #19 Porsche across the line to win Le Mans, had to say about his hopes last month:

"So me going there as a rookie, not having any experience, I just want to go there open minded and do a good job and enjoy it.

"Of course, we want to do well and I'd love to win and it would be a dream come true, but we should be realistic."

Sun 13:00 And the #19 Porsche is heading towards the line. The 24 Hours are up so the chequered flag is ready. Already, celebrations are breaking out in the Porsche garage.

Sun 13:00 The two Porsches are running together, #19 leading second-placed #17.

Sun 13:01 And Porsche wins Le Mans for the 17th time!

Sun 13:01 Victory goes to Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber in the #19 Porsche.

Sun 13:02 Corvette wins the GTE Pro battle, as Oliver Gavin crosses the line for his fifth Le Mans class triumph.

Sun 13:02 And it's GTE Am victory for the #72 SMP Ferrari.

Sun 13:03 This has been a fantastic victory by the #19 car, which took control of the race in the ninth hour and hasn't let its advantage slip since then.

Sun 13:04 Jubilant scenes in the Porsche pits, with plenty of grown men in tears as Hulkenberg completes a victory lap in the #19 car.

Sun 13:06 Big victory for KCMG in LMP2, with Bradley behind the wheel. They had the fastest package all week and made it count, despite a couple of hairy moments on Sunday.

Jota completed another remarkable Le Mans comeback to take second, ahead of the G-Drive (OAK) outfit.

Sun 13:07 Here's the finishing order up front:

1 #19 Porsche (Hulkenberg/Tandy/Bamber)
2 #17 Porsche (Bernhard/Hartley/Webber)
3 #7 Audi (Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler)
4 # 8 Audi (Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis)
5 #18 Porsche (Jani/Lieb/Dumas)
6 #2 Toyota (Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway)
7 #9 Audi (Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Rast)
8 #1 Toyota (Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima)
9 #47 ORECA (Lapierre/Howson/Bradley) - LMP2
10 #38 Gibson (Turvey/Dolan/Evans) - LMP2

Sun 13:10 A total of 37 cars have been classified. As expected, the #22 Nissan and the #4 CLM, which both crossed the line, did not complete enough laps to meet the 70% winner's distance rule for classification.

Sun 13:12 The race-winning car now takes the traditional route the wrong way down the pitlane to pull up underneath the podium.

Sun 13:12 Remember, the winning crew has just two Le Mans starts prior to this edition to its name, both for Tandy.

All three drivers in that car have earned their positions in the Porsche line-up through consistently strong performance in a variety of categories. Always good to see hard work and genuine ability achieving success behind the wheel.

Chapeau to Tandy, Hulkenberg and Bamber.

Sun 13:12 @Toyota_Hybrid: "We’re very disappointed but now we start preparing for #LM24 2016 when we want to return much stronger!"

Sun 13:18 Here's our full race report on the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours, including a detailed rundown of the LMP2 and GTE races:

Porsche wins Le Mans with Tandy, Bamber, Hulkenberg

Porsche, Le Mans 2015

  OVERVIEW LE MANS 2015  
 Class leaders  
1 LMP1
Toyota TS040 Hybrid
Davidson
Buemi
Nakajima
2 LMP1
Toyota TS040 Hybrid
Wurz
Sarrazin
Conway
7 LMP1
Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Fassler
Lotterer
Treluyer
8 LMP1
Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Di Grassi
Duval
Jarvis
  CURRENT WEATHER
Overcast High Temp: 19°C / 66°F
Track: 23