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Hour 22: battle for fifth is on track

The twenty first hour of the Le Mans 24 began under the third safety car period of the race, after the #99 Ferrari pulled over and burst spectacularly into flames. All credit to the remaining gladiators, though, who floored it enthusiastically as the lead safety car pulled in a moment ago. Enough racing? Nobody seems to know what 'enough' means around here!

At the front the status quo remains - Bentley, Bentley, Audi, Audi - but the gap between fifth and sixth is a mere handful of seconds. The Cochet/Gounon/Gregoire Courage Judd trio determined to cause Papis, Beretta and Jeanette, in the Panoz, as much trouble as possible in the closing stages. The Panoz was looking very second-hand as it flew past a minute ago, gaffer tape flapping in the wind.

An extremely praiseworthy effort by the 'never say die' Racing for Holland Dome Judd keeps it in seventh (how many new gearboxes was that then Jan?). Lammers is in the chair now and lapping faster than Gregoire. A pair of Courage Peugeots makes up the tail end of the LMP 900 class, with Tomas Enge a mere seven laps back in the Prodrive Ferrari and leading the GTSs.

With the #80 Ferrari totalled by Anthony Davidson in the night, the Corvettes have finally got a look in, in 11th and 12th. The gravely roar of the beefy American sportscars is a sheer delight.

Adding to the modest list of retirements this hour is the #68 Viper and the #25 WR, which has been gradually dissolving, judging by the smoke coming out of it, all morning.

Allez mes braves.

Positions after hour 22
Pos Drivers Car Laps
Kristensen/Capello/Smith Bentley 345 laps
2 Brabham/Herbert/Blundell Bentley 343 laps
3 Pirro/Lehto/Johansson Audi 341 laps
4 Ara/Magnussen/Werner Audi 338 laps
5 Beretta/Jeannette/Papis Panoz 328 laps
6 Cochet/Gounon/Gregoire Courage-Judd 328 laps
7 Lammers/Bosch/Wallace Dome-Judd 328 laps
8 Boullion/Lagorce/Sarrazin Courage-Peugeot 326 laps
9 Helary/Ayari/Minassian Courage-Peugeot 322 laps
10 Kox/Enge/Davies Ferrari 550 313 laps*

* GTS class

GTS class
Kox/Enge/Davies Ferrari 550 313 laps
2 Fellows/O Connell/Freon Corvette 297 laps
3 Gavin/Pilgrim/Collins Corvette 297 laps

LMP675 class
Andre/Maury-Laribiere/Pillon Reynard-Lehmann 295 laps
2 Nielsen/Shimoda/Elgaard DBA-Zytek 260 laps
3 Terada/Porta/Pickering WR 206 laps

GT class
Luhr/Maassen/Collard Porsche 291 laps
2 Hindery/Baron/Lieb Porsche 287 laps
3 Neugarten/Smith/Khan Porsche 282 laps

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