Hour 20: All change…

Battle for the lead

Hour 20: All change…

All change at the top of the race order, but only in terms of drivers. All three of the Audi R8's have taken on a new driver at the wheel with Frank Biela finally relinquishing the helm of the lead number eight car.
A mammoth four stint session by the German came to an end on lap 297 as he handed over the lead car to Kristensen. The Dane continued to maintain station in the top spot despite the lap times of the number eight car dropping off by two seconds. It was busy times at the Audi hanger. Three laps later it was the turn of the second-placed car to touch base as Ortelli swapped places with Aiello and on lap 301 Albereto relieved Capello.

"It was difficult to push as the temperature is rising," said the Italian. "I did three stints but there were no real problems. The car is perfect."

The Audis continue to roar along with a Chewbacca-like resonance and do not seem to be causing the Joest team any reliability worries in its first season of running a three car team. Just as well really - one should always let the wookie win.

The chances of a Cadillac making it onto the podium are now seriously diminshed even without the unpenetrable Audi hold at the front. The American number three LMP car is 16 laps behind the leaders.



The battle in the GTS class has hotted up as Andy Pilgrim is staying on terms with the 53 Oreca Viper currently driven by Ni Amorim. The 64 Corvette is certainly harrying the Viper at the beginning of the last four hours of the race. Neither car however is posing any kind of threat to the class-leading Viper of Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy. Bob Wollek exited the Dick Barbour Porsche 21 laps behind the leaders but eight laps ahead of nearest rival the 73 car.

The seven and nine Audi R8's have both had rear end changes, whereas the eight car has not. There is only one fully assembled gearbox and suspension unit and there have been reports of change in engine note on the car.
56 year old Bob Wollek has suggested this year might be his last Le Mans. After he finished his last stint he said: "I made sure I enjoyed that last lap. I'm not saying it will definitely be my last at Le Mans, but at my age, you never know."

20
Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 306 laps
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), +2:29.205
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), +2 laps
3, E Bernard, E Collard, F Montagny, Cadillac LMP (900), +16 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, C Peugeot (900), +19 laps
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +22 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Raphanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +24 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), +28 laps
53, D Donohue, N Amorim, A Beltoise, Dodge Viper (GTS), 33 laps
, 64, A Pilgrim, K Collins, F Freon, Corvette (GTS), + 0.621


Class No Driver Car Time
900 9, A McNish Audi R8 3:37.359


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola Nissan 2K/40, +85 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper, + 28 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R, +40 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
54, G Martinolle, J C Lagnez, B Derichebourg, Dodge Viper, engine, 180 laps
56, M Hezemans, D Hart, N Hugenholz, Dodge Viper, accident, 210 laps

For a full list of race positions at the 18-hour mark click here.


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Hour 19: To be perfectly Frank

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