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LM24 H1: Andre Lotterer leads Le Mans in the first hour for Audi

Andre Lotterer, Audi #1, Le Mans 2012Audi's R18 e-tron quattros were on top in the first hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours after both R18 ultras hit problems.

Andre Lotterer led from Allan McNish, who moved up to second place after Loic Duval made an extra stop, while Mike Rockenfeller was just outside the top 10 in the #4 car after a visit to the garage.

Lotterer made a clean start from Duval and with great determination set about establishing a gap.

McNish quickly relieved Stephane Sarrazin of third on the opening lap and then rebuffed the Frenchman's attempt to retake the position on the first section of the Mulsanne Straight.

The Audi trio stretched gradually away from the Toyotas of Sarrazin and Wurz, who swapped places on lap five, with the remaining R18 ultra of Mike Rockenfeller running in isolation in sixth.

A brief flurry of rain passed the north end of the circuit on lap one, enough to prompt Pescarolo to send Emmanuel Collard out on wet tyres in the late-starting #16 car but not enough to tempt any other teams. The dark cloud quickly passed over and deposited no further precipitation, while Collard returned to the garage after one lap.

The Rebellion Lolas circulated together in the early running while the tail end of the top 10 provided great entertainment as David Brabham brought the JRM HPD past Sebastien Bourdais in the Pescarolo-Dome, with Bertrand Baguette's OAK in close attendance.

Bourdais was then wheeled back into the garage at his first pitstop.

Both Toyotas stopped on lap nine, followed in by Rockenfeller in the #4 Audi, but while the TS030 Hybrids left in sync (Sarrazin leaving before his fuel hose was fully disengaged) the R18 ultra was pushed back into the Audi garage for a suspension check. Lotterer and McNish pitted the R18 e-tron quattros a lap later - McNish baulked in the pitlane by one of the Gulf Lola-Nissans - enabling Duval to lead a lap before making his own stop.

Duval had a near-miss in the pitlane as a Signatech Nissan was released into his path, then returned to the pits on lap 12 for new tyres.

John Martin converted LMP2 pole in the ADR-Delta ORECA into an early lead from Olivier Pla's OAK entry and Mathias Beche's ORECA. OAK was fastest in the pits, though, delivering Pla out into the lead while Martin dropped to 13th in class after stalling.

Martin Brundle registered as last on the opening lap but it was merely a transponder glitch, and he was running eighth in class at the end of the first hour.

Lead GTE Pro qualifier Jaime Melo was dumped down to fifth in class in the early laps as Stefan Mucke took the initiative in the #97 Aston Martin, chased by Oliver Gavin's Chevrolet Corvette and Olivier Beretta's Ferrari.

Toni Vilander, starting from the back after the #51 Ferrari's post-shunt rebuild, drove a remarkable opening stint to run fourth within a handful of laps before ultimately overhauling Beretta for third. Melo and Vilander were last to pit, moving to the head of the class at the turn of the hour.

Patrick Pilet, fastest GTE Am qualifier in the Flying Lizard Porsche, led the opening stint while Allan Simonsen brought the #99 Aston Martin past Sean Edwards in the Prospeed Porsche. Matt Griffin led the class at the turn of the hour by dint of pitting last.

NOTES

- The quickest LMP1 qualifier, Strakka Racing's HPD, was pushed back into the garage before the start and joined the race on lap 6.

- The#17 Pescarolo started the race from the pitlane after an engine change ran late. The team's #16 Dome also pitted with drivetrain issues.

POSITIONS AFTER 1 HOUR

Pos Car            Drivers                      Cla   Lap  Gap
 1. #1  Audi       Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer    LMP1  17   
 2. #2  Audi       McNish/Capello/Kristensen    LMP1  17   +   23.788s
 3. #7  Toyota     Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima       LMP1  17   +   44.655s
 4. #8  Toyota     Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin      LMP1  17   +   50.580s
 5. #3  Audi       Gene/Dumas/Duval             LMP1  17   + 1m28.167s
 6. #12 Lola       Prost/Heidfeld/Jani          LMP1  17   + 2m06.459s
 7. #13 Lola       Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat  LMP1  17   + 2m38.426s
 8. #15 OAK        Montagny/Kraihamer/Baguette  LMP1  17   + 3m20.543s
 9. #22 HPD        Brabham/Dumbreck/Chandhok    LMP1  16   +     1 Lap
10. #4  Audi       Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller LMP1  16   +   32.434s
11. #24 Morgan     Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla           LMP2  16   +   38.896s
12. #46 Oreca      Thiriet/Beche/Tinseau        LMP2  16   +   51.474s
13. #49 Oreca      Perez Companc/Kaffer/Ayari   LMP2  16   +   54.523s
14. #35 Morgan     H Hansson/Leinders/Martin    LMP2  16   + 1m06.585s
15. #44 HPD        Potolicchio/Dalziel/K-Smith  LMP2  16   + 1m06.869s
16. #48 Oreca      Firth/Hartley/Hughes         LMP2  16   + 1m07.878s
17. #33 HPD        Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz          LMP2  16   + 1m27.588s
18. #42 Zytek      Brundle/Brundle/Ordonez      LMP2  16   + 1m28.749s
19. #45 Oreca      Briere/Nakano/Petersen       LMP2  16   + 1m31.850s
20. #23 Oreca      Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard     LMP2  16   + 1m36.545s
21. #26 Oreca      Ragues/Panciatici/Rusinov    LMP2  16   + 1m40.659s
22. #41 Zytek      Zugel/Julian/Gonzalez        LMP2  16   + 1m41.049s
23. #25 Oreca      Martin/Charouz/Graves        LMP2  16   + 1m45.121s
24. #40 Oreca      Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry        LMP2  16   + 1m49.049s
25. #31 Lola       Holzer/Schultis/Moro         LMP2  16   + 2m40.507s
26. #38 Zytek      Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa       LMP2  16   + 2m47.664s
27. #43 Norma      Rosier/Haezebrouck/Thirion   LMP2  16   + 3m25.251s
28. #0  DeltaWing  Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama    CDNT  16   + 3m28.968s
29. #29 Lola       Ihara/Deletraz/Rostan        LMP2  16   + 3m34.457s
30. #30 Lola       Sims/Buurman/Iannetta        LMP2  15   +    2 Laps
31. #51 Ferrari    Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander    GTEP  15   +   44.458s
32. #97 Aston      Mucke/Fernandez/Turner       GTEP  15   + 1m15.770s
33. #74 Corvette   Gavin/Westbrook/Milner       GTEP  15   + 1m18.036s
34. #71 Ferrari    Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci      GTEP  15   + 1m38.930s
35. #77 Porsche    Lietz/Lieb/Henzler           GTEP  15   + 1m47.637s
36. #79 Porsche    Neiman/Pumpelly/Pilet        GTEA  15   + 1m50.075s
37. #99 Aston      Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen     GTEA  15   + 1m51.362s
38. #81 Ferrari    Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin      GTEA  15   + 1m56.316s
39. #80 Porsche    Bergmeister/Long/Holzer      GTEP  15   + 2m03.849s
40. #75 Porsche    al Faisal/Curtis/Edwards     GTEA  15   + 2m04.060s
41. #67 Porsche    Pons/Armindo/Narac           GTEA  15   + 2m06.827s
42. #73 Corvette   Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor      GTEP  15   + 2m33.290s
43. #58 Ferrari    Ehret/Jeannette/Montecalvo   GTEA  15   + 2m38.941s
44. #59 Ferrari    Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher   GTEP  15   + 2m44.184s
45. #50 Corvette   Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy        GTEA  15   + 2m56.855s
46. #66 Ferrari    Walker/Cocker/Wills          GTEP  15   + 2m58.278s
47. #88 Porsche    Ried/Roda/Ruberti            GTEA  15   + 3m14.780s
48. #83 Ferrari    Rodrigues/Illiano/Ferte      GTEA  15   + 3m26.037s
49. #61 Ferrari    Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers       GTEA  15   + 3m36.943s
50. #70 Corvette   Bourret/Gibon/Belloc         GTEA  14   +    3 Laps
51. #57 Ferrari    Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo         GTEA  14   +   14.060s
52. #55 Porsche    Daniels/Palttala/Camathias   GTEA  14   +   36.217s
53. #17 Dome       Minassian/Bourdais/Ara       LMP1  12   +    5 Laps
54. #21 HPD        Leventis/Kane/Watts          LMP1  11   +    6 Laps
55. #28 Lola       Giroix/Badey/Johansson       LMP2  10   +    7 Laps
56. #16 Pescarolo  Collard/Bouillon/Hall        LMP1  4    +   13 Laps
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