Hour 14: Audi hits problems – only joking!

Battle for the lead

Hour 14: Audi hits problems – only joking!

With the sky beginning to lighten in the east, Audi continued doing what it's done for the last 14 hours - utterly dominating the 68th Le Mans 24 Hours. The overall impression is that it's been easy for the three Joest-run R8s, but in reality the team has proved pretty adept at crisis management when it needed to be.
Throughout the seeemingly endless hours of one-two-three running, the order has been constantly fluid, and for now it's the turn of the seven car to be playing catch-up. Rinaldo Capello, fresh from a triple stint in the tail-gunner Audi, admitted that he was pushing harder than he may have wanted to: "We have to push in our car," he shrugged. "We lost many, many minutes so we are racing, not cruising. The problem is that in the dark, the traffic is so much worse."

In the lead number eight Audi, Tom Kristensen ended his triple stint and swapped with Emanuele Pirro for the sunrise shift, with Allan McNish stepping into the second-placed car for Laurent Aiello at the very end of the hour.

But as Pirro cruised on, and Capello and co turned up the wick in the hope of getting back on terms with their team-mates, the Brabham/Magnussen/Andretti gang could only watch as their number 11 Panoz, grounded in the pits as the team attempted to diagnose its engine problem, slid down the top 10. Finally, at around 0535 and after nearly an hour in the static position, the car was fired up again and sent out, but not in the top 10. Sad, that.

With the Panoz problems, it was time for hope to spring eternal at Cadillac instead. With the number three DAM'S car of Bernard/Collard/Montagny set fair in fourth, all it needed was for one of those Audis to hit big problems. That's all it needed...

Behind the Katoh/O'Connell/Raphanel Panoz in fifth, the Courage-Peugeot C52 continued to uphold French honour under the watchful gaze of the non-driving Henri Pescarolo. Also sitting inside the top 10 was the second Courage - the SMG Judd-powered C60 of Gache/Formato/Cottaz.



The Panoz problems benefitted the other bullet-proof trio in the field - the GTS ORECA Vipers, which now ran ninth, 10th and 11th, with Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy leading. The Corvettes were mostly holding their own and running to their own gameplan, but a gearbox change for the number 63 car at the end of Justin Bell's latest stint put a spanner in the works. Dick Barbour Racing's Porsche GT3R continued to lead the GT class, with the Lola-Nissan B2K/40.


Air temperature remained remarkably high throughout the night, still hitting 17 degrees at 0500. Temperatures for the rest of the day are predicted to reach 32 degrees celsius.


Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 212 laps
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), + 1 lap
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), + 2 laps
3, E Bernard, E Collard, F Montagny, Cadillac LMP (900), + 7 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Raphanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), + 11 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, C Peugeot (900), + 12 laps
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +15 laps
, 17. P Gache G Formato, D Cottaz, Courage Judd (900), + 16 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 18 laps
52, T Archer, M Duez, P Huisman, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 19 laps


Class No Driver Car Time
900 9, A McNish Audi R8 3m37.877s


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola Nissan 2K/40, + 66 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper, + 18 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R, + 27 laps


No Drivers Car Laps Reason
4, M Goossens, C Tinseau, K Kolby, DAM'S Cadillac LMP (900), fire - 5 laps
5, Y Dalmas, N Minassian, J P Belloc, ORECA Reynard-Mopar 2KQ (900), oil pressure - 1 lap
20, J Lammers, P Kox, T Coronel, Konrad Lola B2K/10 (900), retired, 38 laps
33, J D Deletraz, R Kelleners, D Terrien, ROC VW (675), engine, 44 laps
77, C Bouchut, J Chereau, P Gouselard, Porsche GT3-R, accident, 34 laps
34, J-C Boullion, J Gene, G Policand, Reynard Volkswagen (675), engine, 72 laps
24, S Johansson, J Matthews, G Smith, Reynard Judd 2KQ, engine, 126 laps
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radigues, E Naspetti, Lola Judd B2K/10, stopped, 154 laps

For a full list of race positions at the 12-hour mark click here.


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Hour 13: Problems for Panoz

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Hour 14: Audi hits problems – only joking!

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