TOYOTA GAZOO Racing retained the lead of the Le Mans 24 Hours as the 85th edition of the race moved into its evening stage.
Pole position setter Kamui Kobayashi successfully completed his first stints behind the wheel, extending the lead over the #1 Porsche to more than half a minute for the #7 TS050 HYBRID he shares with Mike Conway and Stéphane Sarrazin.
Anthony Davidson in the #8 he drives along with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima was unfortunate in traffic and dropped to third position after losing time due to a local slow zone, when cars must drive significantly slower than racing speeds.
José María López performed impressively in his first racing stints at Le Mans and moved up to fourth position, helped by a technical problem for the #2 Porsche, which lost a lot of time in the pits.
After the second driver changes, Stéphane took over the leading #7, with Kazuki at the wheel of the #8. Yuji took the wheel of the #9 for his first racing laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
TS050 HYBRID #7 (Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin)
Grid position: 1st
Kamui Kobayashi: “The stint went well. At the beginning the traffic worked out okay for me but later that became more of a problem. But I could extend the lead and it looks positive so far. We are calm and the car feels good, as you can see by the lap times.”
TS050 HYBRID #8 (Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima)
Grid position: 2nd
Anthony Davidson: “It was a really tough three stints. I just seemed to get all the bad luck in the traffic. My fastest lap times were competitive so the speed was there but I was just catching cars in the wrong places. Then I was unlucky to be the only leading car to pick up one of the slow zones, which cost me 30 seconds. The car was running well and feels good.”
TS050 HYBRID #9 (Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto, José María López)
Grid position: 5th
José María López: “First of all I was really happy to complete my first stint ever at Le Mans. I was feeling more and more comfortable all the way through and it went quite well. It’s a very long race and we are still there. I am looking forward to jumping in the car again.”