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WEC NEWS 

Le Mans 24 Hours seventh hour: Audi tightens grip as Toyota clashes with DeltaWing

#1 Audi, Le Mans 2012Audi's grip on the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours tightened as the sole remaining Toyota TS030 hit trouble at the race's restart just after the six-hour mark.

The green flags flew almost exactly an hour after Anthony Davidson's massive crash brought out the safety car for the first time, but it took barely 30 seconds before Toyota hit further trouble.

Marcel Fassler's lead #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro got bottled up as it tried to navigate its way past the sister #4 R18 ultra of Oliver Jarvis and through a group of post-safety car traffic.

Nakajima in the #07 TS030 was perched right on the tail of the two Audis, and in the initial melee jinked to the right going into the Porsche curves - right into the path of compatriot Satoshi Motoyama in the DeltaWing.

The DeltaWing was sent crashing into the wall in the process, while the Toyota pitted initially for a new rear section. One lap later Nakajima returned to the pits however, the car being pushed into the garage and up onto the jacks as the Toyota crew fought to assess the full damage from the clash.

The team's woes were a boon to Audi, which was able to occupy the top three positions as a result.

Fassler still leads in the #1 R18, ahead of Rinaldo Capello in the sister #2 e-tron quattro and the #4 ultra currently driven by Oliver Jarvis.

Brendon Hartley moved into the lead of the LMP2 class at the wheel of the #48 Murphy ORECA-Nissan, 15s ahead of Jacques Nicolet in the #24 OAK Morgan-Judd which had led the class for much of the race.

Hartley had lain fourth just after the restart, but fought his way past those in front as the pitstops cycled through.

The top five LMP2 runners are now all on the same lap, with only Vicente Potolicchio's #44 Starworks HPD having completed more than eight stops.

Oliver Gavin managed to edge away from Toni Vilander as Corvette and Ferrari resumed the fight for GTE Pro honours.

Vilander had closed to within four seconds of the lead #74 Corvette, but dropped back when he completed the #51 AF Corse Ferrari's sixth stop.

Only Marc Lieb in the #77 Porsche has been able to stay on the same lap as the lead pair, with the #97 Aston Martin Vantage - previously in the scrap for the front - dropping to sixth after pitting immediately before and after the safety car period.

Pedro Lamy's #50 Corvette meanwhile leads Nicolas Armindo's #67 Porsche in the fight for GTE Am honours.

NOTES

- Problems for the #7 Toyota following collision with DeltaWing at the restart.

- Huge crash for Anthony Davidson in the #8 Toyota, leading to lengthy safety car period.

- #29 Gulf Racing Lola B12 the first official retirement.

- #40 hit with a two-minute stop and go penalty for second pitlane speeding offence.

- 30s pit stop penalties for #40 and #49 LMP2s for speeding in pitlane.

- Garage checks for Tom Kristensen in the #2 Audi, the third unexpected delay for the marque across its four cars.

- Titanic GTE Pro scrap between Corvette, Aston Martin and Ferrari.

- Misfire for #99 Aston Martin Vantage hands #79 Flying Lizard Porsche sizeable GTE Am lead.

- 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.

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

POSITIONS AFTER 7 HOURS

Pos Car            Drivers                      Class  Laps  Gap
 1. #1  Audi       Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer    LMP1   102   
 2. #2  Audi       McNish/Capello/Kristensen    LMP1   102   + 1m08.536s
 3. #4  Audi       Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller LMP1   101   +     1 Lap
 4. #12 Lola       Prost/Heidfeld/Jani          LMP1   100   +    2 Laps
 5. #13 Lola       Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat  LMP1   99    +    3 Laps
 6. #22 HPD        Brabham/Dumbreck/Chandhok    LMP1   99    +   29.204s
 7. #7  Toyota     Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima       LMP1   98    +    4 Laps
 8. #24 Morgan     Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla           LMP2   97    +    5 Laps
 9. #35 Morgan     H Hansson/Leinders/Martin    LMP2   97    +    5.614s
10. #48 Oreca      Firth/Hartley/Hughes         LMP2   97    +   57.536s
11. #44 HPD        Potolicchio/Dalziel/K-Smith  LMP2   96    +    6 Laps
12. #26 Oreca      Ragues/Panciatici/Rusinov    LMP2   96    + 1m08.268s
13. #25 Oreca      Martin/Charouz/Graves        LMP2   96    + 1m09.700s
14. #49 Oreca      Perez Companc/Kaffer/Ayari   LMP2   96    + 2m38.251s
15. #23 Oreca      Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard     LMP2   96    + 3m03.387s
16. #3  Audi       Gene/Dumas/Duval             LMP1   95    +    7 Laps
17. #33 HPD        Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz          LMP2   95    +   32.887s
18. #45 Oreca      Briere/Nakano/Petersen       LMP2   95    +   38.871s
19. #30 Lola       Sims/Buurman/Iannetta        LMP2   95    + 1m07.720s
20. #15 OAK        Montagny/Kraihamer/Baguette  LMP1   95    + 1m11.207s
21. #38 Zytek      Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa       LMP2   95    + 1m16.071s
22. #46 Oreca      Thiriet/Beche/Tinseau        LMP2   95    + 2m14.295s
23. #21 HPD        Leventis/Kane/Watts          LMP1   94    +    8 Laps
24. #41 Zytek      Zugel/Julian/Gonzalez        LMP2   94    + 1m43.185s
25. #42 Zytek      Brundle/Brundle/Ordonez      LMP2   93    +    9 Laps
26. #40 Oreca      Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry        LMP2   93    +   18.023s
27. #31 Lola       Holzer/Schultis/Moro         LMP2   92    +   10 Laps
28. #74 Corvette   Gavin/Westbrook/Milner       GTEP   92    +    6.367s
29. #51 Ferrari    Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander    GTEP   92    +   10.970s
30. #77 Porsche    Lietz/Lieb/Henzler           GTEP   91    +   11 Laps
31. #59 Ferrari    Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher   GTEP   91    +   25.055s
32. #73 Corvette   Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor      GTEP   91    +   26.977s
33. #97 Aston      Mucke/Fernandez/Turner       GTEP   91    + 2m40.404s
34. #50 Corvette   Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy        GTEA   90    +   12 Laps
35. #61 Ferrari    Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers       GTEA   89    +   13 Laps
36. #67 Porsche    Pons/Armindo/Narac           GTEA   89    +   17.421s
37. #88 Porsche    Ried/Roda/Ruberti            GTEA   89    +   40.647s
38. #66 Ferrari    Walker/Cocker/Wills          GTEP   89    +   56.906s
39. #57 Ferrari    Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo         GTEA   89    + 1m56.914s
40. #43 Norma      Rosier/Haezebrouck/Thirion   LMP2   89    + 3m28.797s
41. #71 Ferrari    Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci      GTEP   88    +   14 Laps
42. #83 Ferrari    Rodrigues/Illiano/Ferte      GTEA   88    + 1m39.723s
43. #70 Corvette   Bourret/Gibon/Belloc         GTEA   87    +   15 Laps
44. #55 Porsche    Daniels/Palttala/Camathias   GTEA   87    +   42.052s
45. #58 Ferrari    Ehret/Jeannette/Montecalvo   GTEA   85    +   17 Laps
46. #80 Porsche    Bergmeister/Long/Holzer      GTEP   83    +   19 Laps
47. #75 Porsche    al Faisal/Curtis/Edwards     GTEA   82    +   20 Laps
48. #17 Dome       Minassian/Bourdais/Ara       LMP1   78    +   24 Laps
49. #0  DeltaWing  Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama    CDNT   75    +   27 Laps
50. #28 Lola       Giroix/Badey/Johansson       LMP2   75    +32m40.624s
51. #79 Porsche    Neiman/Pumpelly/Pilet        GTEA   74    +   28 Laps
52. #99 Aston      Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen     GTEA   31    +   71 Laps
53. #8  Toyota     Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin      LMP1   82    +   20 Laps
54. #81 Ferrari    Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin      GTEA   70    +   32 Laps
55. #16 Pescarolo  Collard/Bouillon/Hall        LMP1   20    +   82 Laps
56. #29 Lola       Ihara/Deletraz/Rostan        LMP2   17    +   85 Laps
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