After riding in a tight 1-2 for the majority of the 24-hour event, the Toyota pair were split as the race approached the 4 p.m. mark when Jose Maria Lopez slowed to a stop on the track after apparently losing his training.
After a few starts and stops, the Argentinian pulled the car back into the pit lane before performing an apparent ‘cycle reset’ to restart the failing hybrid system. Despite the problems, the car was not parked in the garage but Lopez lost a lap to the lead car.
It means the #8 Toyota of Brendon Hartley, Sébastien Buemi and Ryo Hurakawa has moved into position to secure the team its fifth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, having remained largely out of trouble until now.
Glickenhaus still retains third place, but there were more problems for the Alpine when a stoppage forced it back to the garage for repairs.
In LMP2, the No. 38 Jota Sport car remains in the lead in LMP2 with the Prema Orlen machine holding firmly in second place, followed by the second of the Jota cars in third place, while TDS Racing and Cool Racing remain in the top five as the class stabilized from its typical “snakes and ladders” during pit stop cycles.
In GTE Pro, however, both Corvettes are now out of the race after a dramatic crash for the #64 car, which was cut off by François Perrodo’s AF Corse LMP2 car, sending it crashing into the barriers on the Mulsanne straight.
Alex Sims was in the car at the time and in contention for victory, a class that was comfortably led by the #63 car earlier before a rear suspension failure forced a lengthy stop. It, too, is now out of the race, ending Corvette interest in this year’s race early.
The AF Corse Ferrari is now leading the way in GTE Pro, helped in part by the no92 Porsche which also ran into trouble when a puncture caused damage to the front of the car. However, the #91 Porsche is now just 12 seconds ahead of what has now been reduced to a Ferrari vs. Porsche fight for honours.
In the GTE Am class, Aston Martin is now 1-2 with the TF Sport entry leading the North West car.