Hour 18: 3/4 gone and you guessed it…

Battle for the lead

Hour 18: 3/4 gone and you guessed it…

For the thousands of fans pouring into the tribunes opposite the pits, it was déjà vu all over again. They'd melted away to their camp sites late last night with Audi holding down a convincing sweep of the podium. They woke again with Audi holding down a convincing sweep of the podium. Stop me if you've heard this, but how many different ways can you describe Audi's domination of the 68th Le Mans 24 Hours...?
Those theorists who surmised that since Audi was marginal on the brakes at Sebring earlier this year, it would suffer just as much at Le Mans got a small piece of ammunition when the third-placed Capello/Abt/Alboreto had its brakes bled, as well as a disc and pad change, when 'Dindo' came in and swapped for Abt. But the ammunition proved nothing more than a harmless blank. As the three-quarter distance point approached, the lead Audi had a lead of around 2m20s over Stephane Ortelli in the second-placed car, with the third, supposedly brake-hampered machine, holding an eight-lap lead over the clockwork DAM'S Cadillac. Good for Audi, but the sportscar racing equivalent of a still life painting - not a lot happening.

One point to note is that when Biela finally did come in and change with Emanuele Pirro at around 0857, he too had joined the rather exclusive four-stint club - if the eight car does win, Biela's Sunday morning stint, including the repulsion of the McNish attack, will prove key to the outcome.

Behind them, a somewhat fading support cast of LMP 900 cars filled up the rest of the top seven slots, with the Pescarolo Courage-Peugeot seemingly a fixture in fifth and the remaining Panoz posse taking sixth and seventh.



A bad hour for Vipers: the Chamberlain-run example having the biggest shunt of the event with a major hit on the barriers after a puncture, but no injury to its driver, and the 52 ORECA Viper losing time in the pits replacing a broken rocker. But with the gap to the first Corvette C5-R measured in laps, not minutes, ORECA still held a one-two at three-quarter distance. Oh, and the GT class Dick Barbour Racing Porsche got itself into the top 15 - a very handy effort.


Jan Magnussen showed classic Scandinavian car control when his number 11 Panoz went into the gravel at Indianapolis, but missed the barrier and rejoined the track with barely a lift of the throttle. Good effort by the Dane!


Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 275 lap
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), + 1 lap
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), + 2 laps
3, E Bernard, E Collard, F Montagny, Cadillac LMP (900), + 12 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, C Peugeot (900), + 17 laps
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), + 20 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Raphanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), + 22 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 25 laps
52, T Archer, M Duez, P Huisman, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 28 laps
64, A Pilgrim, K Collins, F Freon, Corvette C5-R (GTS), + 29 laps

Class No Driver Car Time
900 9, A McNish Audi R8 3m37.359s


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola Nissan 2K/40, + 78 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), + 25 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R, + 36 laps


No Drivers Car Laps Reason
4, M Goossens, C Tinseau, K Kolby, DAM'S Cadillac LMP (900), fire, 5 laps
5, Y Dalmas, N Minassian, J P Belloc, ORECA Reynard-Mopar 2KQ (900), oil pressure, 1 lap
20, J Lammers, P Kox, T Coronel, Konrad Lola B2K/10 (900), retired, 38 laps
33, J D Deletraz, R Kelleners, D Terrien, ROC VW (675), engine, 44 laps
77, C Bouchut, J Chereau, P Gouselard, Porsche GT3-R (GT), accident, 34 laps
34, J-C Boullion, J Gene, G Policand, Reynard Volkswagen (675), engine, 72 laps
24, S Johansson, J Matthews, G Smith, Reynard Judd 2KQ (900), engine, 126 laps
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radigues, E Naspetti, Lola Judd B2K/10 (900), stopped, 154 laps
15, T Bscher, J M Gounon, G Lees, BMW LMP (900), retired, 180 laps

For a full list of race positions at the 18-hour mark click here.


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