The Bentleys have now completed more laps than the more powerful winning Audi in 2002. Apart from battery problems the team has run with unrelenting efficiency. It has been a dominant if somewhat monotonous performance by the VW group, with Bentley and Audi teams locking out the front between them.
Jean Marc Gounon is driving the wheels off the Courage Judd to hang on to sixth, but Jan Lammers has other ideas, 1m43s behind and closing. The Lammers hurry-up has forced Gounon up the road and resulted in the gap to the fifth placed Panoz closing to 49, then 48 and now 47-seconds, so the race is still very much on in parts.
There isn't much that can be done to catch anyone elsewhere, however, and foremost in many minds will be a classified finish. Apart from the deserved laurels up front, medals the size of the Le Mans town hall clock should go to Kox, Enge and Davies for keeping all of GTS-dom behind them, seemingly forever, and to the Dutch Spyker operation, in last place on the timesheets, for overcoming all kinds of normally terminal woes to finish (including a brush with the pitlane marshals).
Unfortunately, the rules state that that a minimum of 70 percent of the leader's race distance must be completed to be classified, which means that the Spyker team and half a dozen others will not ultimately be credited.
One hour to go!
Positions after hour 23
Pos Drivers Car Laps
1 Kristensen/Capello/Smith Bentley 361 laps
2 Brabham/Herbert/Blundell Bentley 359 laps
3 Pirro/Lehto/Johansson Audi 356 laps
4 Ara/Magnussen/Werner Audi 354 laps
5 Beretta/Jeannette/Papis Panoz 344 laps
6 Cochet/Gounon/Gregoire Courage-Judd 343 laps
7 Lammers/Bosch/Wallace Dome-Judd 343 laps
8 Boullion/Lagorce/Sarrazin Courage-Peugeot 340 laps
9 Helary/Ayari/Minassian Courage-Peugeot 327 laps
10 Kox/Enge/Davies Ferrari 550 327 laps*
* GTS class
1 Kox/Enge/Davies Ferrari 550 327 laps
2 Gavin/Pilgrim/Collins Corvette 311 laps
3 Fellows/O Connell/Freon Corvette 311 laps
1 Andre/Maury-Laribiere/Pillon Reynard-Lehmann 307 laps
2 Nielsen/Shimoda/Elgaard DBA-Zytek 273 laps
3 Terada/Porta/Pickering WR 220 laps
1 Luhr/Maassen/Collard Porsche 305 laps
2 Hindery/Baron/Lieb Porsche 300 laps
3 Neugarten/Smith/Khan Porsche 290 laps