For the night is dark and full of Safety Cars

At the half way mark, Toyota hold a commanding lead. With sunrise not far away, it will be a great relief to those still running to have made it through the night.

The #7 Toyota TS050 continued its domination at the top of the standings as teams battled through the night and into the morning at the 87th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite Fernando Alonso’s attempts in the sister #8 to close the gap in the darkness, the combination of Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi rarely looked under threat as the trio ran like clockwork through the darkness, through the dawn and into the morning. The two Toyotas are four laps ahead of the best of the privateer LMP1s, which is currently held by the #11 SMP Racing BR1. The Russian crew has ended up in third thanks to their clean run through the night, as their rivals faltered. The first was the sister #17 as Egor Orudzhev crashed at the Porsche Curves just after 1am, and then – after a night of great action between it and the #11, Thomas Laurent beached the #3 Rebellion Racing R13 in the gravel at that hub of activity the Porsche Curves. Laurent was recovered to the track, but lost nine minutes in the gravel and then another chunk of time as the car was inspected by Rebellion mechanics. It came back out in fourth, three laps down on the #11 but a lap ahead of the #1 Rebellion which had issues yesterday afternoon. Both the ByKolles and DragonSpeed entries have retired, after races filled with mechanical issues for the pair.

The titanic struggle between the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 and the Signatech Alpine A470 continued through the night as the pair proved to be in a class of their own at the head of the LMP2 class. Swapping positions on a regular basis as the two teams ever so slightly alternated their pit schedules, Roman Rusinov ended hour 18 with a small advantage. Third proved to be the biggest battle in the class. Long-time podium sitters DragonSpeed retired in the 17th hour as Pastor Maldonado crashed the Oreca at Tertra Rouge. His off promoted the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car onto the podium, but Gabriel Aubry had a minor scare as the car dramatically slowed on the Mulsanne Straight. He managed to get back to the pits and the problem was quickly resolved as Ho-Pin Tung got into the car and proceeded to extend its hold on third to over 90 seconds to the fourth-placed TDS Racing entry.

Corvette Racing led the way in GTE Pro, but was yet to make its latest pitstop as the class found itself dominated by the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo for the majority of the night running. That car, most recently raced by Alessandro Pier Guidi, having stopped before the #63 C7.R. Despite the diverging pit strategies, the pair have been closely battling for a number of hours with advantage slightly heading towards the Italian team after a great stint early in the morning by Daniel Serra.

Third and fourth are two of the four Porsche GT Team 911 RSRs, with the #93 CORE Autosport-run entry heading the #91 Manthey car which is on course to secure the GTE Pro WEC title for Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni. Their title hopes were assisted by exhaust problems for the #92 Porsche of Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor. Christensen and Estre are currently 12th in class but need to finish eighth if they are to snatch the title away for themselves.

Keating Motorsports enjoys a one-lap lead at the head of GTE Am in its eye-catchingly liveried Ford GT. The majority of running has so far be done by Felipe Fraga and Jeroen Bleekemolen with team owner Ben Keating telling TV that he still has to do a lot of his mandatory running as the bronze driver in that entry. Second proved to be a slightly closer battle as Patrick Lindsey held a 40 second advantage over the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 in the Team Project 1 Porsche. One of the biggest losers in the class overnight was the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage. Running in the podium places as Saturday ticked over to Sunday, Euan Hankey beached the #90 in the gravel at Mulsanne Corner while running in second. The car did get recovered, but is currently 13th in class – eight laps down on the leader.