H4: Toyota makes inroads on lead Audi's Le Mans advantage

Benoit Treluyer remains the overall leader of the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, but his advantage was slashed throughout the fourth hour as Toyota began to charge

H4: Toyota makes inroads on lead Audi's Le Mans advantage

The Japanese marque's attack was led by Sebastien Buemi in the #8 TS030, who produced a fantastic stint - regularly lapping below the 3m30s mark - to cut the deficit from around two minutes to just 10 seconds, even if Audi was forced to react to the charge and up its own pace towards the end of the fourth hour.

Buemi did not get the chance to see just how close he could get to putting the Toyota into the lead though, having to stop 10 minutes before the end of the fourth hour just after setting his team's fastest lap of the race.

Still Treluyer was afforded little breathing room as the second TS030, piloted now by Nicolas Lapierre, had followed Buemi's example and was also on a charge. It too got down to within 20s of the lead Audi before having to stop for the sixth time.

Buemi and Lapierre's pace allowed them to re-emerge from the pits in second and third respectively, ahead of the #3 Audi R18 ultra currently driven by Romain Dumas.

It is the only Audi to have also made six stops - the other three cars having only made five, being able to push each stint slightly longer than Toyota.

The #2 Audi e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen remains on the lead lap in fifth, ahead of Marco Bonanomi in the #4 R18 ultra.

Neel Jani kept the #12 Rebellion Lola top of the non-factory LMP1 pile in seventh overall, around two minutes ahead of the sister #13 car.

Olivier Pla handed the lead of the LMP2 class over to team-mate Matthieu Lahaye, who continued to stretch away from Bas Leinders, at the wheel of the #35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan.

Jody Firth meanwhile moved to the front of a tight battle for third in the #48 Murphy ORECA-Nissan, although Ryan Dalziel's HPD, Pierre Kaffer's ORECA-Nissan and Alex Brundle's Zytek-Nissan all remain within one minute of the Briton.

The #51 AF Corse Ferrari's ability to run far deeper into its stints than either Aston Martin or Corvette once again told as Giancarlo Fisichella retook the lead of the GTE Pro class despite lapping slightly slower than either Darren Turner or Tommy Milner.

Turner had been third until Milner pitted and handed over to Richard Westbrook, allowing him to slip by and into second. The trio remain on the same lap.

Seth Neiman took over control of the GTE Am class-leading #79 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 following Spencer Pumpelly's fine stint.

Gianluca Roda had been closing slightly however in the #88 Felbermayr Porsche, which is now around 80s down.

NOTES

- The quickest LMP1 qualifier, Strakka Racing's HPD, was pushed back into the garage before the start and joined the race on lap six.

- The #17 Pescarolo started the race from the pitlane after an engine change ran late. The team's #16 Dome also pitted with drivetrain issues.

- Misfire for #99 Aston Martin Vantage hands #79 Flying Lizard Porsche sizeable GTE Am lead.

- Titanic GTE Pro scrap between Corvette, Aston Martin and Ferrari.

- Garage checks for Tom Kristensen in the #2 Audi, the third unexpected delay for the marque across its four cars.

- 30s pit stop penalties for #40 and #49 LMP2s and #75 for speeding in pitlane.

- #29 Gulf Racing Lola B12 the first official retirement.

POSITIONS AFTER 4 HOURS Pos Car Drivers Class Laps Gap 1. #1 Audi Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer LMP1 67 2. #8 Toyota Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin LMP1 67 + 1m16.333s 3. #7 Toyota Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima LMP1 67 + 1m19.629s 4. #3 Audi Gene/Dumas/Duval LMP1 67 + 1m27.428s 5. #2 Audi McNish/Capello/Kristensen LMP1 66 + 1 Lap 6. #4 Audi Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller LMP1 66 + 1m19.346s 7. #12 Lola Prost/Heidfeld/Jani LMP1 65 + 2 Laps 8. #13 Lola Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat LMP1 65 + 1m46.384s 9. #22 HPD Brabham/Dumbreck/Chandhok LMP1 64 + 3 Laps 10. #15 OAK Montagny/Kraihamer/Baguette LMP1 64 + 1m05.509s 11. #24 Morgan Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla LMP2 63 + 4 Laps 12. #35 Morgan H Hansson/Leinders/Martin LMP2 63 + 42.920s 13. #48 Oreca Firth/Hartley/Hughes LMP2 63 + 1m30.325s 14. #44 HPD Potolicchio/Dalziel/K-Smith LMP2 63 + 1m46.713s 15. #49 Oreca Perez Companc/Kaffer/Ayari LMP2 62 + 5 Laps 16. #42 Zytek Brundle/Brundle/Ordonez LMP2 62 + 12.698s 17. #25 Oreca Martin/Charouz/Graves LMP2 62 + 1m10.145s 18. #26 Oreca Ragues/Panciatici/Rusinov LMP2 62 + 1m45.955s 19. #38 Zytek Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa LMP2 62 + 2m41.748s 20. #30 Lola Sims/Buurman/Iannetta LMP2 62 + 2m43.190s 21. #23 Oreca Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard LMP2 62 + 3m25.861s 22. #45 Oreca Briere/Nakano/Petersen LMP2 61 + 6 Laps 23. #33 HPD Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz LMP2 61 + 53.129s 24. #46 Oreca Thiriet/Beche/Tinseau LMP2 61 + 2m43.306s 25. #41 Zytek Zugel/Julian/Gonzalez LMP2 61 + 3m23.779s 26. #31 Lola Holzer/Schultis/Moro LMP2 60 + 7 Laps 27. #21 HPD Leventis/Kane/Watts LMP1 60 + 3m06.006s 28. #51 Ferrari Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander GTEP 59 + 8 Laps 29. #40 Oreca Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry LMP2 59 + 52.781s 30. #97 Aston Mucke/Fernandez/Turner GTEP 59 + 53.999s 31. #74 Corvette Gavin/Westbrook/Milner GTEP 59 + 1m05.145s 32. #77 Porsche Lietz/Lieb/Henzler GTEP 59 + 3m14.673s 33. #59 Ferrari Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher GTEP 58 + 9 Laps 34. #73 Corvette Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor GTEP 58 + 1m03.847s 35. #79 Porsche Neiman/Pumpelly/Pilet GTEA 58 + 3m02.741s 36. #66 Ferrari Walker/Cocker/Wills GTEP 58 + 4m10.443s 37. #88 Porsche Ried/Roda/Ruberti GTEA 58 + 4m25.572s 38. #50 Corvette Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy GTEA 58 + 4m52.114s 39. #58 Ferrari Ehret/Jeannette/Montecalvo GTEA 57 + 10 Laps 40. #67 Porsche Pons/Armindo/Narac GTEA 57 + 1m21.152s 41. #81 Ferrari Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin GTEA 57 + 1m27.717s 42. #61 Ferrari Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers GTEA 57 + 2m40.976s 43. #57 Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo GTEA 57 + 3m34.566s 44. #83 Ferrari Rodrigues/Illiano/Ferte GTEA 56 + 11 Laps 45. #43 Norma Rosier/Haezebrouck/Thirion LMP2 56 + 56.589s 46. #71 Ferrari Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci GTEP 56 + 3m05.578s 47. #70 Corvette Bourret/Gibon/Belloc GTEA 55 + 12 Laps 48. #55 Porsche Daniels/Palttala/Camathias GTEA 55 + 2m29.699s 49. #80 Porsche Bergmeister/Long/Holzer GTEP 54 + 13 Laps 50. #17 Dome Minassian/Bourdais/Ara LMP1 54 + 24.600s 51. #0 DeltaWing Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama CDNT 51 + 16 Laps 52. #75 Porsche al Faisal/Curtis/Edwards GTEA 51 + 56.796s 53. #28 Lola Giroix/Badey/Johansson LMP2 45 + 22 Laps 54. #99 Aston Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen GTEA 31 + 36 Laps 55. #16 Pescarolo Collard/Bouillon/Hall LMP1 20 + 47 Laps 56. #29 Lola Ihara/Deletraz/Rostan LMP2 17 + 50 Laps 
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LM24 H3: Benoit Treluyer resumes lead of Le Mans 24 Hours as #2 Audi hits trouble

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Series WEC
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Sam Tremayne
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