The two works Bentleys are looking as strong as expected after the first 60 minutes of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Rinaldo Capello currently leads Johnny Herbert by about two seconds, with the pair some 50s clear of the closest competition.
The show of strength from the Speed 8s began on the very first lap, aided by Jan Lammers, who thrust his Racing for Holland Dome up into third at the start. The Dutchman clearly held up the three privateer Audis, allowing the Bentleys to make their escape to the tune of 6.7s after just one lap.
The three Audis, led by Jan Magnussen in the Audi Sport Japan machine, soon began to work their way past Lammers, although none had an answer to the Bentleys impressive pace on the track.
Off-track, however, and the battle could be closer. Johnny Herbert briefly passed Capello for the lead on the track, before pitting at the start of lap 10. The second Bentley managed to run two further laps before it pitted, at the same time as Magnussen. The Audi Sport UK and Champion Audi worked together to draft down the Mulsanne, and managed to stretch their fuel to the start of lap 14 and 15 respectively.
Several cars hit trouble early on, most notably Oliver Gavin's GTS class Chevrolet Corvette. After the Briton pitted at the end of lap one, he was back in on the very next lap for further work to an unspecified mechanical problem. This handed the class initiative to the Veloqx Prodrive Ferraris, with Peter Kox currently leading.
The Intersport Racing Lola-MG has taken advantage of trouble to the class pace-setting DBA-Zytek to lead the LMP675 class, with the Alex Job Racing Porsche leading in the GTs. There was early drama for the TVR Tuscan of Rob Barff, after he spun and hit the wall heavily at the Porsche Curves.
Autosport.com will bring you further hourly updates and all the news throughout the race.
Positions after hour 1
Pos Drivers Car Difference/Laps
1 Capello/Kristensen/Smith Bentley 16 laps
2 Herbert/Blundell/Brabham +0.0610s
3 Magnussen/Ara/Werner Audi R8 15 laps
4 Pirro/Lehto/Johansson Audi R8 15 laps
5 Biela/Salo/McCarthy Audi R8 15 laps
6 Lammers/Bosch/Wallace Dome-Judd 15 laps
7 Ortiz/Gabbiani/Gommendy Dome-Judd 15 laps
8 Goossens/Matthews/Tinseau Riley & Scott 15 laps
9 Beretta/Jeannette/Papis Panoz 15 laps
10 Boullion/Lagorce/Sarrazin Courage-Peugeot 15 laps
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