The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy leads the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans by a comfortable 12 laps after eighteen hours of the endurance classic. The real story, however, is that a flock of LMP2 cars are in with a genuine shout of scoring an overall podium and, if trouble were to beset the lead Porsche, even victory.
Overnight the pair of Vaillante Rebellions put themselves in prime position to capitalise on the failures of LMP1 factory teams, but a number of niggly issues saw the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car driven by Thomas Laurent, Oliver Jarvis and Ho-Ping Tung leads the #13 Vaillante Rebellion of David Heinemeier-Hansson, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mathias Beche by two-and-a-half minutes.
The GTE Pro class has more than made up for the lack of head-to-head battles in LMP1, with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, the #67 Ford GT, the #63 Corvette C7.R and the #97 and #95 Aston Martin Vantages seemingly swapping places at will both on the track and through the pit stop cycles. Johnny Adam in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage currently leads the class by a margin of just half a second ahead of Jordan Taylor in the #63 Corvette.
Elsewhere, the #66 Ford GT, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and the #92 Porsche 911 RSR all ran into trouble during the early hours, either through contact with other cars or collisions with the guard rails. The #92 Porsche 911 RSR succumbed to crash damage after an incident at the Ford Chicane, while the other two cars are still running but have been significantly delayed.
GTE Am remains firmly in the clutches of the #84 JMW Ferrari 488, as it has been for most of the night, with driver Dries Vanthoor, Will Stevens and Robert Smith not putting a foot wrong yet. Their lead over the second-placed #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 of Duncan Cameron, Aaron Scott and Marco Cioci is around one lap, with the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 of Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan and Bret Curtis back in third.
Images © WEC-Magazin / Walter Schruff