Hour 18: Audi reigns as rain returns

Battle for the lead

Hour 18: Audi reigns as rain returns

Just as this year's Le Mans 24 hour race had developed an air of predictability the La Sarthe weather has thrown a spanner in the works with the return of rain, forcing the field into the pits to take on wet weather tyres, including the leading Audis.
The Joest team had anticipated that conditions could take a turn for the worse with both the leading number one car and sister number two car both lapping on intermediates, but the rain was heavy enough to warrant full rain Michelin rubber.

"For the first two hours I had no problems at all," said Frank Biela, who handed over the lead car to Tom Kristensen after a quadruple stint. "But the last couple of laps were very dangerous because of the rain. So far everything looks good, but we'll have to cross our fingers."

Behind the Audi one-two, the Bentley Team is holding on in third place and it too will be crossing its fingers and hoping that the return of the rain does not trigger a return of its electrical problems. Unfortunately Butch Leitzinger relinquished the driving duties to Eric Van de Poele just 15 minutes too early, as the Belgian took on intermediate tyres just before the rain came.

"We seem to have got over our original problems," said team boss John Wickham. "The weather is a bit of a question mark so we have put on intermediates. We just want the race to finish now."

And so say all of us...



The Gene/Deletraz/Fabre ROC car still dominates the LMP675 class. The car has a 41-lap lead over the only other car still running in the class - the Defournoux/Daoudi/Terada WR. The ROC team seem to have stemmed the flow of oil from the engine and the Reynard is still currently ninth overall, 26 laps behind the leader.

The leading GTS car is still the Fellows/O'Connell/Pruett Corvette, which is lying 23 laps behind the leader but remains in sixth place overall. The second-in-class Saleen of Borcheller/Gavin/Konrad is now six laps adrift and seems to be falling further back.

The race for the lead in GT class continues, where the Jeannette/Dumas/Haezebroeck Porsche 911 has just re-taken the lead from the Rosa/Babini/Drudi 911 on-track having lost it in the pits.


1 (900) F.Biela/T.Kristensen/E.Pirro, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, 242 laps
2 (900) R Capello/L Aiello/C Pescatori, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, + 2 laps
8 (GTP) A.Wallace/B.Leitzinger/E.Vande Poele, Bentley EXP Speed 8, Team Bentley, +11 laps
16 (900) O.Beretta/K.Wendlinger/P.Lamy, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, Team Playstation, +19 laps
17 (900) J C. Boullion/S.Bourdais/L.Redon, Courage-Peugeot C60, Pescarolo Sport. +20 laps
63 (GTS) R.Fellows/J.O'Connell/S.Pruett, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Corvette Racing, + 22 laps
6 (900) W.Taylor/M.Angelelli/C.Tinseau, Cadillac Northstar LMP, DAMS, +24 laps
14 (900) S.Ara/N.Amorim/M.Kondo, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, +24 laps
38 (675) J.D. Deletraz/P.Farbe/J.Gene Reynard-Lehmann 01Q ROC Competition, +25 laps
60 (GTS) T.Borcheller/O.Gavin/F.Konrad Saleen-Ford S7R, Saleen-Allen Speedlab, +28 laps

Aiello/Capello, Audi R8, Team Joest Audi Sport, 3m39.046s

38 (675) J.D. Deletraz/P.Farbe/J.Gene
Reynard-Lehmann 01Q ROC Competition, +26 laps
63 (GTS) R.Fellows/J.O'Connell/S.Pruett,
Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Corvette Racing, +28 laps
77 (GT) G Jeannette/R Dumas/P Haezebrouck, Porsche 911
GT3-RS, Freisinger Motorsport, + 30 laps

I McKellar/B Lambert/J Mowlem, Saleen S7R, RML, engine
J Lammers/V Hillebrand/D Crevils, Dome-Judd, Racing for Holland, electrics
W Lupberger/B Collins/H Toivonen, Ascari, Team Ascari, engine
(900) Y.Dalmas/F.Montagny/S.Sarrazin, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, engine
B Mazzuccola/V Rice/C Wagner, Callaway Corvette, Aspen Knolls, engine
(675) D.de Radigues/S.Maassen/H.Matsuda, Reynard-Judd 01Q, Dick Barbour Racing, unknown
c Hurtgen/R Fairbanks/C Gleason, Lola Nissan, Roock-Knighthawk Racing, engine
K McGarrity/M Blundell/J Bailey, MG, MG Sport, engine
(900) K.Graf/J.Davies/G.Formato, Panoz LMP 07, Panoz Motorsports, engine
(900) D.Brabham/J.Magnussen/F.Lagorce, Panoz LMP 07, Panoz Motorsports, unknown
(900) J.Herbert/R.Kelleners/D.Theys, Audi R8, Champion Racing, engine
(900) J.Nielsen/H.Katoh/C.Elgaard, Dome-Judd S101, Den Bla Avis, engine
(GTS) V.Vosse/C.Rosenblad/V.Ickx, Chrysler Viper GTS-R Paul Belmondo Racing, accident
(GTP) M.Brundle/S.Ortelli/G.Smith, Bentley EXP Speed 8, Team Bentley, gearbox
(900) E.Collard/M.Goossens/E.Bernard, Cadillac Northstar LMP, DAMS, stopped
P Gache/A Beltoise/J Policand, Courage, SMG, accident
JC Lagnez/G De Galzain/A Kumpen, Chrysler Viper, Paul Belmondo Racing, accident
(900) S.Johansson/T.Coronel/P.Lemarie, Audi R8, Johansson Motorsport, accident damage
GT R Donovan/T Lingner/C MacAllister, Porsche 911 GT3, Racing Engineering, unknown
(675) A.Reid/W.Hughes/J.Kane, MG-Lola EX257, MG Sport, engine
(675) M.Duno/J.Graham/D.Murry, Reynard-Judd 01Q, Dick Barbour Racing, accident
(GTS) T.Seiler/W.Brun/C.Slater, Saleen-Ford S7R, Konrad Motorsport, accident
(GTS) D.Terrien/J.Cochet/J.P. Dayraut, Chrysler Viper GTS-R, Equipe de France FFSA, accident
(675) W.Carway/M.O'Connell/F.Migault, Pilbeam-Nissan MP84 Rowan Racing, accident

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