Hour 17: Comas Maintains Pressure

After six Le Mans victories, Tom Kristensen is allowed the occasional mistake, as long as he gets away with them. At the start of the 17th hour he made his first of the weekend

Hour 17: Comas Maintains Pressure

Having set the Champion Racing R8's fastest laps on new tyres during the quick dawn stint, he slid wide at the second chicane on the Mulsanne Straight and bounced across the grass before pitting immediately to hand to JJ Lehto.

The Champion Racing R8 had a two-lap advantage over the chasing Pescarolo of Jean-Christophe Boullion, which is making up time after a gearbox problem on Saturday afternoon. "I got a gear too early, it was my mistake," said Kristensen. "My foot slipped a little off the brake, I was off line which is of course full of gravel. It shouldn't happen but if you have a big basket, you can only lose it.

The lead Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy put in some very fast laps at the top of the hour, dropping the fastest lap in class to a 3m52.078s, despite enjoying a one lap cushion over the chasing Corvettes. In the 17th hour, the Corvettes slowed to four minute laps as the Aston Martins remain in the 3m54s - 3m57s bracket, Lamy stretching his lead in seventh overall as Brabham closed on Max Papis for third in class and 10th overall.

The Team Jota Zytek of Sam Hignett is still running well, as the team enjoying its first Le Mans lies sixth overall. It is two laps down on the fifth placed Pescarolo of Eric Helary which has suffered two accidents during the course of the race.

The Paul Belmondo Racing Courage, which had led the LMP2 class for several hours, had a long pit stop and handed the lead to the RML Lola, itself a car which had suffered overheating and gearbox problems during the opening hour. RML driver Tommy Erdos now enjoys a four lap lead over the Gulf-liveried, Ford two-litre turbocharged powered Courage of Didier Andre, which had started from the LMP2 pole position.

The Raymond Narac Porsche, which lay third in the GT2 class, had a long stop during the hour and dropped to fourth in the class. Mike Rockenfeller, in the Alex Job Racing Porsche, has moved up the leaderboard to 16th overall ahead of Patrick Long and Lonnie Pechnik, who runs third in the Flying Lizard Porsche.

Already, less than four hours after daybreak, the ambient temperature has been measured at 33.6 degrees Centigrade.
Pos # Drivers Make Class On Hour 17
1 3 Lehto, Werner, Kristensen Audi R8 LM P1
2 16 Collard, Boullion, Comas Pescarolo Judd LM P1
3 2 Biela, Pirro, McNish Audi R8 LM P1
4 4 Montagny, Gounon, Ortelli Audi R8 LM P1
5 17 Loeb, Helary, Ayari Pescarolo Judd LM P1
6 9 Hignett, Stack, Kurosawa Zytek 04S LM P1
7 58 Enge, Kox, Lamy Aston Martin DBR9 LM GT1
8 64 Gavin, Beretta, Magnussen Corvette C6-R LM GT1
9 59 Brabham, Sarrazin, Turner Aston Martin DBR9 LM GT1
10 63 Fellows, O'Connell, Papis Corvette C6-R LM GT1
11 7 Minassian, CampbellW., Wallace DBA Judd LM P1
12 10 Lammers, Julian, Bosch Dome Judd LM P1
13 12 Schwager, Frei, Vann Courage Judd LM P1
14 50 Goueslard, Dupard, Vosse Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
15 71 Hindery, Rockenfell., Lieb Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
16 18 Short, Barbosa, Ickx Dallara Judd LM P1
17 90 Bergmeist., Long, Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
18 80 Overbeek, Pechnick, Neiman Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
19 61 Fomenko, Vasiliev, Bouchut Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
20 76 Dumas, Dumez, Narac Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
21 25 Erdos, Newton, Hughes Lola MG LM P2
22 72 Policand, Campbell, Alphand Porsche 911 GT3 RS LM GT2
23 37 Belmondo, Andre, Sutherland Courage C65 Ford LM P2
24 36 Gosselin, Ojjeh, Sharpe Courage C65 Ford LM P2
25 89 Nielsen, Thyrring, Ehret Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
26 30 Bennett, Mitchell, Mullen Courage Judd LM P2
27 83 Collin, Felbermayr, Shep Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
28 92 Macari, Eriksson, Wilson Ferrari 360 Mo. GTC LM GT2
29 35 Hillebrand, Hahn, Pickering Courage C65 Judd LM P2
30 24 Terada, Roussel, Binnie WR Peugeot LM P2
31 95 Hartshorne, Stanton, Johnson TVR Tuscan 400 R LM GT2
32 78 Sellers, Franchitti, Bourdais Panoz Elan LM GT2
33 8 Verdon Roe, Krumm, Primat Dallara Nissan LM P1

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