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WEC NEWS 

H10: Minassian extends his lead

Nicolas Minassian extended his lead through the tenth hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which was run for the most part under the safety car following Marcel Fassler's big accident at the Porsche Curves.

The No.6 Oreca Courage went into the barriers backwards, winding the Swiss driver who was stretchered away to the medical centre.

Team boss Hughes de Chaunac confirmed that Fassler was not seriously hurt in the accident however: "For the moment, the only thing I can say he is not hurt, just knocked down.

"He just needs time to recover," added de Chaunac. "We haven't spoken to him yet so we don't know whether it was a mistake or whether the car broke."

The field spent 40 minutes behind two safety cars that split the field around the 13km track, and this benefitted the leading No.7 Peugeot, which picked up a different pace car to that of the pursuing No.2 Audi driven by Allan McNish.

The Scot, who shares his car with Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, had been hoping for just such an opportunity, but instead the circumstances contrived to cost him another 50 seconds. Thus when the safety cars returned to the pits with 15 minutes of the hour remaining, McNish was two minutes behind the Peugeot.

In third position is Frank Montagny in the No.9 Peugeot who is a lap behind the two leaders after Christian Klien's spin a couple of hours ago. Tracking the Frenchman 80 seconds further back is the No.3 Audi driven by Lucas Luhr.

Emanuele Pirro is fifth in the third of the Audis, while Alex Wurz is in sixth in the recovering No.8 Peugeot.

It proved a disastrous hour for Oreca, with Laurent Groppi dropping to eighth behind Benoit Treluyer's Pescarolo after he stopped for an extended service in the No.6 Courage.

Emmanuel Collard's Pescarolo is ninth, the last of the LMP1 runners in the top ten.

The situation in the LMP2 battle has not changed with Van Merksteijn Racing's Jeroen Bleekemolen managing his one lap lead over the similar Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder driven by Sascha Maassen.

Aston Martin continues to lead the GT1 class with Darren Turner holding a tenuous 9 second lead over the No.63 Corvette of Ron Fellows.

Mika Salo leads GT2 in the Risi Ferrari despite a long pitstop under the safety car to service the front right of the car.

Tim Mullen is second in the Virgo Motorsport car, but the Ulsterman has a challenge on his hands as his Ferrari F430 GTC is reported to have lost its power steering.

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