Le Mans 24 Hours: Rain causes chaos, Audi/Toyota crash in hour two
|Saturday, June 14th 2014, 15:08 GMT|
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.
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.
TYRE GAMBLE HELPS CORVETTE IN GTE
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