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Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota doubles its lead over chasing Audi

#7 Toyota, Le Mans 2014

Toyota extended its lead in the Le Mans 24 Hours over the chasing #2 Audi, partly thanks to a safety car period that split the field.

Audi's decision to quadruple stint its tyres meant that it closed up on the leading #7 Toyota early in the hour, but it's lack of pace compared to Kazuki Nakajima on fresh rubber meant that it ended that stint even further adrift of the leader.

With the gap back over one minute, Audi suffered a further loss in time when the safety cars were sent out after Alexandre Imperatori crashed the KCMG ORECA between the Porsche Curves and the Ford Chicane.

Both Nakajima and Benoit Treluyer came in for stops - with the Audi driver handing over to Marcel Fassler - but once the Swiss had rejoined one of the safety car groups he was nearly two minutes behind when the race restarted.

Marc Gene took over the #1 Audi in third position, while the #20 Porsche fell off the lead lap after Brendon Hartley went straight on at Arnage corner on his inlap.

It took Hartley nearly two minutes to rejoin, after which he came in as planned to hand over to Mark Webber for the Australian's first racing laps of Le Mans.

Things are still looking good in LMP2 for the #35 OAK Ligier, which was leading in the hands of Mark Shulthitskiy before he handed over to Jann Mardenborough.

The car was second in class at the end of the hour, with the leading Signatech Alpine ORECA of Oliver Webb scheduled to make a stop imminently.

Jon Lancaster held third in the #34 Race Performance ORECA, with the #46 Ligier of Tristan Gommendy having lost time in fourth thanks to pitting under the safety car.

ASTON TAKES GTE LEAD

Darren Turner hauled Aston Martin to the top of the GTE ranks after the safety car period allowed the Vantage racer to overhaul Richard Westbrook's Corvette.

The C7.R held a comfortable advantage over Giancarlo Fisichella's Ferrari 458 Italia, which had jumped the Aston in the pitstop phase while Turner was taking over from Bruno Senna, before the safety car split the leading six GTE Pro cars into two groups of three.

When racing resumed, Turner quickly passed Fisichella's AF Corse Ferrari and was soon harrying Westbrook, finally getting past into the first Mulsanne chicane. The two Britons and Fisichella ran almost nose-to-tail, with Turner just keeping ahead.

The second group, which comprised Richard Lietz, Jordan Taylor and Nick Tandy, has been cut adrift but ran equally as close to each other as the lead trio.

Tandy, who took on new tyres as he got his first taste of race action, quickly passed the Corvette before attacking Manthey Porsche team-mate Lietz, who just held on to fourth.

Paul Dalla Lana survived a spin to retain the GTE Am lead in the #98 Aston Martin, with Nicki Thiim now aboard the #95 Vantage to continue the British marque's stranglehod on the division.

POSITIONS AFTER 7 HOURS

Pos Cl       Car       Drivers                              Laps  Gap
 1. LMP1 #7  Toyota    Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima               103  
 2. LMP1 #2  Audi      Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer            102 +      1 Lap
 3. LMP1 #1  Audi      Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen            102 +  1m17.422s
 4. LMP1 #20 Porsche   Bernhard/Webber/Hartley              101 +     2 Laps
 5. LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost/Heidfeld/Beche                 98  +     5 Laps
 6. LMP1 #14 Porsche   Dumas/Jani/Lieb                      97  +     6 Laps
 7. LMP2 #36 Alpine    Chatin/Panciatici/Webb               95  +     8 Laps
 8. LMP2 #35 Ligier    Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy   95  +    33.352s
 9. LMP2 #34 Oreca     Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster              95  +    51.696s
10. LMP2 #46 Ligier    Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy               94  +     9 Laps
11. LMP1 #8  Toyota    Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi              94  +    24.195s
12. LMP2 #26 Morgan    Rusinov/Pla/Canal                    94  +  1m53.772s
13. LMP2 #24 Oreca     Rast/Charouz/Capillaire              93  +    10 Laps
14. LMP2 #38 Zytek     Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey               93  +     1.818s
15. LMP2 #43 Morgan    Klien/Hirsch/Brandela                93  +  2m03.024s
16. LMP2 #33 Ligier    Cheng/Tung/Fong                      93  +  2m59.438s
17. LMP2 #50 Morgan    Ragues/Taylor/Ihara                  92  +    11 Laps
18. GTEP #97 Aston     Turner/Mucke/Senna                   91  +    12 Laps
19. GTEP #74 Chevrolet Gavin/Milner/Westbrook               91  +     1.107s
20. GTEP #51 Ferrari   Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella            91  +     1.626s
21. GTEP #92 Porsche   Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz              90  +    13 Laps
22. GTEP #91 Porsche   Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy              90  +     0.545s
23. GTEP #73 Chevrolet Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor              90  +     1.721s
24. GTEA #98 Aston     Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard              90  +    14.007s
25. GTEA #95 Aston     Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim     89  +    14 Laps
26. GTEA #72 Ferrari   Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov              89  +  1m24.806s
27. LMP2 #29 Morgan    Schell/Leutwiller/Roussel            88  +    15 Laps
28. GTEA #88 Porsche   Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi              88  +    35.513s
29. GTEA #77 Porsche   Dempsey/Foster/Long                  88  +  1m21.162s
30. GTEA #61 Ferrari   Perez-Companc/Cioci/Venturi          88  +  1m50.422s
31. GTEA #90 Ferrari   Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti              88  +  2m17.890s
32. LMP2 #47 Oreca     Howson/Bradley/Imperatori            87  +    16 Laps
33. GTEA #57 Ferrari   Krohn/Jonsson/Collins                87  +  29m27.690s
34. GTEA #70 Ferrari   Nakano/Ehret/Rich                    87  +  29m34.863s
35. LMP2 #42 Zytek     Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson           87  +  30m10.468s
36. GTEA #67 Porsche   Maris/Merlin/Helary                  87  +  32m40.907s
37. GTEA #58 Ferrari   Barthez/Pons/Ayari                   87  +  32m42.860s
38. GTEA #60 Ferrari   Mann/Case/Giammaria                  87  +  33m19.397s
39. GTEA #75 Porsche   Perrodo/Collard/Palttala             86  +    17 Laps
40. GTEA #66 Ferrari   Al Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly            85  +    18 Laps
41. GTEA #76 Porsche   Narac/Armindo/Hallyday               85  +    53.217s
42. LMP2 #27 Oreca     Zlobin/Salo/Ladygin                  84  +    19 Laps
43. GTEA #62 Ferrari   Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank             83  +    20 Laps
44. GTEP #79 Porsche   MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen           82  +    21 Laps
45. GTEA #53 Ferrari   Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton            78  +    25 Laps
46. LMP1 #13 Rebellion Kraihamer/Belicchi/Leimer            73  +    30 Laps
47. GTEP #52 Ferrari   Griffin/Parente/Leo                  70  +    33 Laps
48. LMP2 #48 Oreca     Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok            64  +    39 Laps
49. LMP2 #41 Zytek     Munemman/Latif/Winslow               31  Retired
50. GTEP #71 Ferrari   Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta                 28  Retired
51. LMP1 #3  Audi      Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis          25  Retired
52. GTEA #81 Ferrari   Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird                    22  Retired
53. LMP2 #37 Oreca     Ladygin/Minassian/Mediani            9   Retired
54. CDNT #0  Nissan    Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama                5   Retired
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