And then there was one. Frank Biela swept into the lead of the Le Mans 24 Hours in the sole remaining Audi R10 TDI as his teammate Rinaldo Capello stood with the car that led for 16 hours at the Indianapolis corner following an accident.
Capello lost control of the car shortly after 7:30 am when the left rear wheel fell off at the high speed Indianapolis corner. The Italian ploughed hard into the barriers, ending his hopes of adding to his tally of two wins, Allan McNish of recording a second victory and Tom Kristensen an eighth.
There were no celebrations in the Peugeot pit, and around the circuit there was a sense of shock that a car that had dominated for so long should suddenly be taken out of the race. "Le Mans can be cruel," said Sebastien Bourdais.
Prior to the accident, Biela had his own dramas when a large stone was removed from the nose of his R10 TDI after the team noticed rising temperatures. The stone was blocking the intercooler and a precautionary check was made at the front though no further repairs were necessary.
As dawn broke and rubber was laid down on the circuit, the times began to tumble and the Peugeots suddenly were setting Audi-style lap times. In third and fourth places, the two 908 HDI FAPs dropped into the 3:27 bracket, though four laps down on Biela's leading Audi is too much to make up on pace alone.
Haruki Kurosawa had his own drama when the Japanese crashed at the Arnage corner in the Barazi Epsilon Zytek shared with Adrian Fernandez and Robbie Kerr, damaging the front of the car though he was able to return to the pits.
Allen Timpany continues to lead the LMP2 class in the Binnie Motorsports Lola. Rickard Rydell continues to lead the GT1 class for Aston Martin, a lap ahead of Ron Fellows. "We are just not fast enough," said the Canadian of his Corvette C6.R.
In the GT2 class, Tim Mullen continued to lead the class in the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari, 38 seconds ahead of the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Richard Lietz.