12hrs: Smith builds edge

The Le Mans 24 Hours has reached the halfway stage, but the drama shows no sign of letting up. Audi Sport UK driver Guy Smith has increased his lead over the Team Goh R8 of Seiji Ara, after the latter made a long pit-stop to correct a misfire during a safety car period

12hrs: Smith builds edge

Tom Kristensen spent the first part of the hour continuing his hunt of Smith, taking up to four seconds a lap out of the Britons lead. But when the safety car was brought out due to oil spilt by the expired engine of the Zytek Engineering 04S, Kristensen brought his car in for an unscheduled stop.

"We've opened the engine cover, so obviously we're not so happy," said Kristensen. "I've had a misfire for the last two hours, and now the safety cars out we have to look at it."

The remainder of the top five remains stagnant, with Benoit Treluyer's Pescarolo-Judd heading Joao Barbosa's Rollcentre Dallara and the Champion Audi of Marco Werner.

Peter Kox continues to lead in the GTS class in his Prodrive Ferrari 550, and has been handed a major boost after two of his class rivals hit trouble. Oliver Gavin was forced to make an unscheduled pit-stop to repair front-end damage on his Chevrolet Corvetter C5-R, although the cause of the damage is not yet known.

Even more dramatic was the brake problems that affected Thomas Biagi's Ferrari 575 GTC, which had been running fourth in class. The machine reached the pit-lane with both brake discs glowing, and occasional puffs of flames bursting out. Amazingly, countless fire extinguishers were sprayed at the brakes but failed to cool them for an alarmingly long time.

The GT class also featured a healthy dose of drama, with the leading Friesinger Motorsport machine of Ralf Kelleners slowing dramatically out on circuit, although it was able to crawl back to the pits for repairs, and retains a three-lap lead over the Petersen Motorsport machine.

Davies/Herbert/Smith Audi R8 LM1 187 laps completed
Ara/Capello/Kristensen Audi R8 LM1 186 laps
Ayari/Comas/Treluyer Pescarolo-Judd LM1 182 laps
Short/Barff/Barbosa Dallara-Judd LM1 180 laps
Lehto/Werner/Pirro Audi R8 LM1 179 laps
Katoh/Michigami/Fukuda Dome-Mugen LM1 176 laps
Enge/Kox/Menu Ferrari 550 GTS 173 laps
Collard/Bourdais/Minassian Pescarolo-Judd LM1 171 laps
Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen Corvette GTS 169 laps
Andre/Leuenberger/Vanni Lola-Judd LM1 168 laps
Coronel/Wilson/Firman Dome-Judd LM1 166 laps
McRae/Rydell/Turner Ferrari 550 GTS 165 laps
Bosch/Sullivan/Biagi Ferrari 575 GTS 163 laps
Kelleners/Ortelli/Dumas Porsche GT 163 laps
Bouchut/Goueslard/Dupard Ferrari 550 GTS 162 laps
Biela/Kaffer/McNish Audi R8 LM1 162 laps
Fellows/O'Connell/Papis Corvette GTS 162 laps
Maasen/Bergmeister/Long Porsche GT 160 laps
Hindery/Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche GT 159 laps
Kurosawa/Nishizawa/Oriodo Porsche GT 159 laps
Stirling/Lupberger/McGarrity Nasamax-Judd LM1 159 laps
Lammers/Dyson/Kaneishi Dome-Judd LM1 158 laps
Alphand/Laveille/Almeras Porsche GT 158 laps
Burgess/Collin/Bagnall Porsche GT 157 laps
Berridge/Caine/Stockton TVR GT 155 laps
Wilson/Montain/Hugenholtz Ferrari 360 GT 154 laps
Donaldson/Fisken/Nielsen Porsche GT 154 laps
Nielsen/Elgaard/Moller Lister LM1 154 laps
Hezemans/Deletraz/Barde Ferrari 575 GTS 153 laps
Khan/Smith/Sugden Porsche GT 149 laps
Binnie/Field/Sutherland Lola-Judd LM2 142 laps
Tomlinson/Greensall/Evans TVR GT 142 laps
Newton/Erdos/Kinch Lola-MG LM1 141 laps
Terada/Roussel/Porta WR LM2 111 laps
Sharpe/Hyde/Cunningham Morgan GT 107 laps
Bouvet/Gommendy/Briere WR LM2 54 laps
Wallace/Brabham/Shimoda Zytek LM1 167 laps
Rosa/van Merkstein/Caffi Porsche GT 146 laps
Melo/Daoudi/de Fournoux Ferrari 360 GT 133 laps
Frei/Gounon/Hancock Courage-AER LM2 127 laps
Jeanette/Pickering/Derlot Courage-Willman LM2 124 laps
Maurylaribiere/Boulay/Besson Reynard-Lehman LM1 122 laps
Belmondo/Gosselin/Saviozzi Courage-AER LM2 80 laps
Vasiliev/Fomenko/Nearn Porsche GT 65 laps
Bourdais/Blanchemain/Berville Panoz LM1 54 laps
Andrews/Lockie/Kumpen Lola-Caterpillar LM1 35 laps
Field/Dayton/Connor Lola-Judd LM1 29 laps
Warnock/Matthews/Daniels Porsche 27 laps

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