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Le Mans 24 Hours: Rain causes chaos, Audi/Toyota crash in hour two

#8 Toyota, damage, Le Mans 2014

The #7 Toyota maintained its lead in the second hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours as a rain shower caused havoc and two LMP1 runners crashed heavily.

Wurz - whose car was reported to the stewards for an unsafe release from the pits in the first hour - continued to control the race, but the hour was dominated by a huge rain storm and two big crashes on the Mulsanne Straight.

The accidents involved the #3 Audi of Marco Bonanomi and the #8 Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre, and resulted in the Audi retiring from the race.

Bonanomi was running in a slow pack of cars on a flooded section of the straight, and Lapierre spun as he arrived upon that pack, hitting the barrier hard on the inside and clipping Bonanomi's Audi.

As that was happening, Bonanomi was then smashed into by an unsighted Sam Bird, forcing both the Audi and Bird's GTE Am AF Corse Ferrari into instant retirement.

Lapierre eventually rejoined after losing two laps trying to get his damaged car up and running again, and he returned it to the garage for repairs.

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The crashes inevitably brought the safety car out, and at the head of the race Wurz continued to hold a clear lead over Andre Lotterer's Audi in second.

Before the rain, Lotterer, Bonanomi and Lapierre had engaged in a manic scrap for second place, with the Audis getting the better of the Toyota, but the cars never being separated by more than two seconds.

The accidents promoted Timo Bernhard to third in the #20 Porsche, which has so far lacked the pace of its rival LMP1 cars.

Franck Mailleux leads LMP2 in the #34 Race Performance ORECA after a strong start to the race.

He leads the #47 KCMG ORECA of Richard Bradley, which had held the lead until opting to stay out on slicks when the rain came.

Bradley aquaplaned off on the approach to the first Mulsanne Chicane and hit the tyre stacks up the escape road.

But he was able to recover to the pits and, thanks to the safety car, stayed at the sharp end of the class battle.

Paul-Loup Chatin is third in the #36 Signatech Alpine ORECA having briefly led after Bradley's accident.


Corvette moved to the head of the GTE pack after Oliver Gavin made a bold decision not to pit for wet tyres work as the lain lashed down.

Gavin, who jumped team-mate Jan Magnussen in the first round of pitstops in the first hour, dropped back behind the #73 C7.R early in the second.

Magnussen then caught and passed erstwhile leader Gianmaria Bruni's AF Corse Ferrari, and was pulling away from the 458 Italia when the rain hit.

Both Magnussen and Bruni opted to pit for wet tyres, making way for Antonio Garcia and Toni Vilander respectively at the same time, but Gavin stayed out and held the advantage when the safety car was called for the shunt on the Mulsanne straight.

The two Manthey Porsches moved into second and third, with Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet following Gavin's lead by staying out as others pit. Just as they reached the second hour mark, Makowiecki stopped for wet tyres, moving aside for Marco Holzer and dropping the #92 car to ninth in GTE overall in the process.

With Bird eliminated, Patrick Long moved into the lead of the GTE Am division in the #77 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911. He also runs third among the combined GTE pack, and is in the lead group of cars behind the safety car.

Johnny Mowlem is second in Am in the #53 Ram Racing Ferrari, but is behind the second safety car and so is two and a half minutes behind Long.

Garcia, the #57 Krohn Ferrari, Vilander and Mucke are next up in the same group.

POSITIONS AFTER 2 HOURS - under safety car:

Pos Cl       Car       Drivers                              Laps
 1. LMP1 #7  Toyota    Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima               29
 2. LMP1 #2  Audi      Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer            28
 3. LMP1 #20 Porsche   Bernhard/Webber/Hartley              28
 4. LMP1 #1  Audi      Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen            28
 5. LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost/Heidfeld/Beche                 27
 6. LMP1 #8  Toyota    Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi              26
 7. LMP2 #34 Oreca     Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster              26
 8. LMP1 #13 Rebellion Kraihamer/Belicchi/Leimer            26
 9. LMP2 #47 Oreca     Howson/Bradley/Imperatori            26
10. LMP2 #36 Alpine    Chatin/Panciatici/Webb               26
11. LMP2 #26 Morgan    Rusinov/Pla/Canal                    26
12. LMP2 #46 Ligier    Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy               26
13. LMP2 #48 Oreca     Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok            26
14. LMP2 #35 Ligier    Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy   26
15. LMP2 #33 Ligier    Cheng/Tung/Fong                      26
16. LMP2 #43 Morgan    Klien/Hirsch/Brandela                26
17. LMP2 #24 Oreca     Rast/Charouz/Capillaire              26
18. LMP1 #3  Audi      Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis          25
19. GTEP #74 Chevrolet Gavin/Milner/Westbrook               25
20. LMP2 #41 Zytek     Munemman/Latif/Winslow               25
21. LMP2 #29 Morgan    Schell/Leutwiller/Roussel            25
22. GTEP #92 Porsche   Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz              25
23. GTEP #91 Porsche   Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy              25
24. LMP2 #50 Morgan    Ragues/Taylor/Ihara                  25
25. GTEA #77 Porsche   Dempsey/Foster/Long                  25
26. GTEA #53 Ferrari   Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton            25
27. GTEP #73 Chevrolet Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor              25
28. GTEA #57 Ferrari   Krohn/Jonsson/Collins                25
29. GTEP #51 Ferrari   Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella            25
30. GTEP #97 Aston     Turner/Mucke/Senna                   25
31. LMP2 #38 Zytek     Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey               25
32. GTEA #95 Aston     Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim     25
33. GTEA #72 Ferrari   Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov              25
34. GTEP #71 Ferrari   Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta                 25
35. GTEA #88 Porsche   Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi              25
36. GTEA #60 Ferrari   Mann/Case/Giammaria                  25
37. GTEA #98 Aston     Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard              25
38. GTEA #58 Ferrari   Barthez/Pons/Ayari                   25
39. GTEP #52 Ferrari   Griffin/Parente/Leo                  25
40. GTEA #67 Porsche   Maris/Merlin/Helary                  25
41. GTEA #75 Porsche   Perrodo/Collard/Palttala             25
42. LMP2 #42 Zytek     Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson           25
43. GTEA #70 Ferrari   Nakano/Ehret/Rich                    24
44. GTEA #90 Ferrari   Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti              24
45. GTEA #66 Ferrari   Al Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly            24
46. GTEA #76 Porsche   Narac/Armindo/Hallyday               24
47. GTEA #61 Ferrari   Perez-Companc/Cioci/Venturi          24
48. LMP1 #14 Porsche   Dumas/Jani/Lieb                      24
49. GTEA #62 Ferrari   Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank             23
50. GTEA #81 Ferrari   Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird                    22
51. GTEP #79 Porsche   MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen           22
52. LMP2 #27 Oreca     Zlobin/Salo/Ladygin                  20
53. LMP2 #37 Oreca     Ladygin/Minassian/Mediani            9 
54. CDNT #0  Nissan    Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama                5 
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