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Audi in control at half distance

Allan McNish, Audi, Paul Ricard LMSThe factory Audi R15 plus driven by Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello dominated the first half of the Paul Ricard 8 Hours.

The solo Audi entered for the Le Mans Series opener held a lead of more than two laps over the Aston Martin Racing coupe at the four-hour mark. The Joest-run R15 plus gained a clear lead when the factory-asssisted ORECA Peugeot lost time when the rear airjack failed at its first pitstop at the end of the first hour.

The Peugeot's problems, which eventually cost it nine laps, gave the Audi a clear lead over the AMR Lola-Aston shared by Stefan Mucke, Adrian Fernandez and Harold Primat, which had lost time in the first hour with a puncture. McNish went on to pull out a lead of more than a lap by the second round of pitstops.

McNish had taken the lead on lap three from Mucke, who had jumped to the front of the field after ORECA driver Stephane Sarrazin and McNish tripped over each other on the first lap.

The RML team's HPD-engined Lola coupe led LMP2 by more than a lap after the class pacesetters, the Strakka Racing HPD (nee Acura) and the ASM Team Ginetta-Zytek, ran into technical problems.

The ultra-competitive GT2 class was led by the Felbermayr Proton Porsche 911 GT3-RSR driven by Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb from the CRS Ferrari 430 GT shared by Andrew Kirkaldy and Tim Mullen.

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