Hour 17: Close but no cigar for Super Nish

Battle for the lead

Hour 17: Close but no cigar for Super Nish

If he's hot, how long do you risk keeping your driver out until it becomes counter-productive? With Allan McNish taking several seconds out of Frank Biela's lead every lap, the tactical brains at Audi Sport and Joest Racing decided that the Scot would quadruple stint. That's quite a special thing at Le Mans nowadays.
So, with Stephane Ortelli finding himself on the bench for a little while longer than planned, McNish took a fuel-only stop and continued on his pursuit of Biela, who pitted some eight minutes later, again just for fuel.

At first the plan seemed to be working, McNish still pulling clumps of metaphorical hair out of Frank's lead, but as hour 17 ticked to its conclusion, the number nine car was lapping a mere second or so quicker. A gamble that might have paid off, but ultimately didn't. At the top of the hour, Biela's lead was stabilised at two minutes - not massive, but certainly manageable.

The story behind the three Audis was one of consolidation if you were the number three Cadillac or the number 16 Courage, and further malady if you were part of the Panoz operation, the 22 car taking its turn to suffer gearbox problems.



Bad news for ORECA when its third car, the 53 machine of Donohue/Amorim/Beltoise, ditched into the gravel in the Porsche Curves. That put the 63 Fellows/Kneifel/Bell Corvette onto the GTS podium.

In LMP 675, the Multimac Lola lost 50 per cent of its opposition when the number 35 WR-Peugeot gave up the ghost. As the saying goes: in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man shall be king.


The SMG Courage-Judd C60 had a rear left tyre explode on the Mulsanne, causing substantial rear-end damage. Gary Formato spent the next 40 minutes trying to trundle the stricken vehicle back to the pits.


Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 259 laps
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), + 2m00.844s
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), + 1 lap
3, E Bernard, E Collard, F Montagny, Cadillac LMP (900), + 8 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, C Peugeot (900), + 16 laps
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +19 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Raphanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), + 21 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 23 laps
52, T Archer, M Duez, P Huisman, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 24 laps
64, A Pilgrim, K Collins, F Freon, Corvette C5-R (GTS), + 28 laps

Class No Driver Car Time
900 9, A McNish Audi R8 3m37.359s


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola Nissan 2K/40, + 75 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 23 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R, + 34 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 (GT), 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 (900), engine, 126 laps
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radigues, E Naspetti, Lola Judd B2K/10 (900), stopped, 154 laps
15, T Bscher, J M Gounon, G Lees, BMW LMP (900), retired, 180 laps

For a full list of race positions at the 15-hour mark click here.


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