Hour 21: Audi maintains pace as heat rises

Battle for the lead

Hour 21: Audi maintains pace as heat rises

Audi relentlessly cruised towards a dominant one-two-three win at Le Mans in the 21st hour. Tom Kristensen kept it tight in the lead, followed by Allan McNish one lap behind and Michele Alboreto another two laps adrift.
Temperatures at the Circuit de La Sarthe rocketed after midday, but the factory Audis kept turning respectable lap times.

It all kicked off behind them at 1225 when Emanuele Collard suffered a suspension failure in the DAMS Cadillac. He gamely tried to get the car back to the pits, but he eventually ground to a halt just past Tertre Rouge. He limped back to the pits for repairs and the DAMS mechanics were besieged by photographers and camera crews.

This incident left a trail of carbonfibre shards scattered along the Mulsanne, and the threat of a flurry of punctures among other competitors.

The Cadillac's lengthy pit-stop allowed the Courage Peugeot driven by Stephane Bourdais to close on the stricken Cadillac, despite being two laps astern of it.

The Panoz challenge is now effectively finished after the factory squad broke its teeth on the remorseless pace of the Audis. The lead Panoz is the Asahi Team Dragon driven by Suzuki/Kageyama/Kageyama sat steadily in sixth overall, 24 laps behind the leader, with the Katoh/O'Connell/Raphanel Spyder another two laps adrift.


The Multimatic Lola B2K/40 driven by Maxwell/Graham/Wilkins looks guaranteed of the P675 class victory. It is eight laps ahead of the second-placed WR.

It is a similar situation in the GTS class: the Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy Dodge Viper crept up to eighth place, 29 laps adrift of the race leader and five laps ahead of the sister car of Amorim/Donohue/Beltoise.

The Dick Barbour Porsche GT3-R driven by Muller/Luhr/Wollek is sitting pretty in 15th place overall, 43 laps behind Kristensen and eight laps ahead of the Taisan GT3-R of Fukuyama/Yogo/Lambert.


Andy Pilgrim (Corvette) and Ni Amorim (Dodge Viper) had a great scrap for ninth overall and second in the GTS class in the 21st hour. The pair even pitted together but Amorim kept the advantage. The battle abated after that but could catch fire again at any moment.


Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 323 laps
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), +1 lap
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), +3 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, C Peugeot (900), +21 laps
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +24 laps
3, E Bernard, E Collard, F Montagny, Cadillac LMP (900), +25 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Raphanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +25 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), +30 laps
53, D Donohue, N Amorim, A Beltoise, Dodge Viper (GTS), +35 laps
, 64, A Pilgrim, K Collins, F Freon, Corvette (GTS), +35 laps


Class No Driver Car Time
900 9, A McNish Audi R8 3:37.359


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola Nissan 2K/40, +86 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper, + 30 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R, +43 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, 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, engine, 126 laps
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radigues, E Naspetti, Lola Judd B2K/10, stopped, 154 laps
54, G Martinolle, J C Lagnez, B Derichebourg, Dodge Viper, engine, 180 laps
56, M Hezemans, D Hart, N Hugenholz, Dodge Viper, accident, 210 laps

For a full list of race positions at the 21-hour mark click here.


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