H22: Corvette on course for win
|Sunday, June 18th 2006, 13:25 GMT|
Once again Corvette's bulletproof reliability has proved their shield of steel at Le Mans, as the No. 64 Pratt and Miller machine, driven by Jan Magnussen, holds a commanding five-lap lead in this year's GT1 battle at La Sarthe.
The Danish ex-F1 driver led the class throughout the 22nd hour of the race as chief rival for much of the event. the No. 009 Aston Martin, dropped to fourth in class after requiring a new clutch.
It was a devastating blow for the Pedro Lamy/Stephane Sarrazin/Stephane Ortelli crew, who could only watch as the car sat in the pits for 45 minutes, costing them 13 laps and dropping them out of podium contention.
"We honestly don't know what the problem was, not worried about the diagnosis at this stage, we just want to get the car back in the race," said team boss David Richards, who put Lamy in the car for the final stint.
The No. 009 car's loss was the sister car's gain, as Tomas Enge brought the No. 007 car up to second in the GT1 class following an extraordinary fightback through the field. If the No. 64 runs into late-race dramas, Aston could yet snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Another car to benefit is the privateer Alphand Adventures Corvette C5-R, which is now running a commendable third in class, having taken the safe and steady approach so far to the year's race.
As the GT1 order shook itself down, the leading Audi diesel carried on doing what Audi diesels all over the world do best... quietly getting on with the job.
The No. 8 R10 TDI in the safe hands of Marco Werner maintained its four-lap advantage over the No. 17 Pescarolo as history beckons.
Allan McNish is back in the No. 7 R10 and looks all set to secure Tom Kristensen's run of eight podiums, now that the car is 10 laps clear of Magnussen's Corvette.
The RML crew performed a systems check on the LMP2 leading No. 25 MG-Lola just to verify that class victory was ensured.
"I wish we had started the race at four o'clock then it would be almost over by now," said Andy Wallace, who is hoping for his first Le Mans victory in 18 years.
"You think you're doing okay but with more than two hours to go. This is Le Mans, and as you saw with the Aston, anything can still happen. It's a question of getting to the end and staying focused on that."
Seikel Motorsport remains in control of GT2 with a seven-lap lead over the factory Panoz.