Hour one: Audis, flames and safety cars

Battle for the lead

Hour one: Audis, flames and safety cars

Audi did what was expected in the early laps - pull away from the rest without even breaking into a sweat, but a flambed Cadillac (Goossens/Tinseau/Kolby) and the resulting safety car period meant the Ingolstadt army didn't have it all its own way.
Before the Cadillac conflagration - which began after five laps and continued for a seeming eternity, with no injury to driver Christophe Tinseau - Allan McNish led from Frank Biela, with Michele Alboreto third, ahead of David Brabham's Panoz. But with the burning Caddy taking 30 minutes to be extinguished and removed from its resting place on the Mulsanne straight, the bulk of the field took the opportunity for an early pit stop. Brabham pitted after seven laps, McNish and Alboreto after eight and Biela after nine.

The pit stop reshuffle complete, Brabham's Panoz was in the lead, from the three Audis in the order McNish, Alboreto and Biela - an unthinkable situation under normal circumstances, but one engineered by the Joest squad's uncharacteristic indecision in bringing in its posse of R8s.

The field was still under the safety car at the completion of the first hour.


The safety car and subsequent pit stops mean the class battles have so far failed to ignite. Leading LMP 675 is the number 34 ROC-VW; first in the GTS class is the number 52 ORECA Chrysler Viper; top of the GTs is, surprise, surprise, the Barbour Racing Porsche GT3R.


Yannick Dalmas, a four-time winner of the round-the-clock classic, notched up a superlative he could have done without - first retirement. The Frenchman's ORECA Reynard-Mopar 2KQ pulled off the track with just one lap completed due to low oil pressure.


Pos No Drivers Car ClassLaps/Time

11, D Brabham, J Magnussen, M Andretti, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), 12 laps
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), 9.590
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), 11.819
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 15.694
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radiguez, E Naspetti, Lola-Judd B2K (900) 3m07.735s
24, S Johansson, J Matthews, G Smith, Reynard-Judd 2KQ (900) 3m08.346s
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Rapanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900) 3m09.419s
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, Courage-Peugeot C52 (900) 3m10.568s
10, J Nielsen, K Graf, M Baldi, Panoz Spyder LMP (900) 3m11.666s
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900) 3m14.228


Class No Driver Car Time
900 9 A NcNish Audi R8 3m39.198s


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
34, J C Boullion, J Gene, J Policand, ROC VW @3m21.599
52, T Archer, M Duez, p Huisman, Chrysler Viper @3m38.785
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R @5m52.304


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

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