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Hour 21: Pescarolo not Giving Up

The 73rd Le Mans 24 Hours is turning into a classic. The number 3 Champion Racing Audi of Tom Kristensen, JJ Lehto and Marco Werner is in the lead, but it may not still be in front even in an hour's time as Emmanuel Collard and then Jean-Christophe Boullion have been reeling it in in the remaining Pescarolo

This isn't the sort of dice between two cars of equal ability, rather one in which a considerably faster car is going flat-out to make up for lost ground. The gap between them has been coming down by between five and six seconds per lap.

Pundits trying to guess whether this will be enough have pointed out that it claws back a lap every four hours. Perhaps concerned by the rate with which Collard and then Boullion were hauling in Werner, Kristensen was put back into the car at 12:30 and may run all the way to the finish.

The other two Audis continue to run in third and fourth places, with Allan McNish holding an advantage of more than two laps over Stephane Ortelli's Oreca-entered example.

Running fifth at 13:00, the little-fancied Team Jota could never have dreamed of being so well placed at such a late stage in the race. John Stack has covered the lion's share of the driving of their Zytek, and was delighted to be promoted to fifth place when Soheil Ayari's accident in the number 17 Pescarolo took it out of the equation.

With a deficit of nine laps to the fourth-placed Oreca Audi and a lap's advantage over the best of the GT1 cars, he and Haruki Kurosawa have stuck to their agreed pace and been steady and constant in an attempt to ensure that nothing breaks over the final eighth of the race.

Corvette Racing continue to hold the lead in GT1 through their number 634 C6.R of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen, but David Brabham is chipping away in the number 59 Aston Martin. Whether shaving off a couple of seconds per lap will be sufficient remains to be seen, but the gap is down to 53 seconds.

The Creation Autosportif DBA4 continues to be in the wars, with Jamie Campbell-Walter picking up a puncture to add to the woes of the previous few hours that included his bodywork-shedding accident. The blue metallic prototype has now dropped to 19th.

Paul Belmondo Racing is also looking safe in LMP2, with Didier Andre holding an advantage of six laps over Warren Hughes in the RML Lola. However, so parlous has been the reliability of the cars in this class that they can't be assured of success. Especially as Hughes has been slashing more than 12s per lap off their advantage, with the second Paul Belmondo Racing Courage disappearing from his wake.

The battle for glory in GT2 is constant, with pre-race joint favourites Alex Job Racing and White Lightning Racing gaining a little here, losing a little there. With the end of the race in sight, Marc Lieb has an advantage of 2m42s over Timo Bernhard, with the third American Porsche lying third in class. This is the Flying Lizard's entry of Johannes van Overbeek, Lonnie Pechnik and Seth Neiman.

Pos # Drivers Make Class On Hour 21
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 9 Hignett, Stack, Kurosawa Zytek 04S LM P1
6 64 Gavin, Beretta, Magnussen Corvette C6-R LM GT1
7 59 Brabham, Sarrazin, Turner Aston Martin DBR9 LM GT1
8 58 Enge, Kox, Lamy Aston Martin DBR9 LM GT1
9 63 Fellows, O'Connell, Papis Corvette C6-R LM GT1
10 10 Lammers, Julian, Bosch Dome Judd LM P1
11 12 Schwager, Frei, Vann Courage Judd LM P1
12 71 Hindery, Rockenfell., Lieb Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
13 90 Bergmeist., Long, Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
14 50 Goueslard, Dupard, Vosse Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
15 18 Short, Barbosa, Ickx Dallara Judd LM P1
16 80 Overbeek, Pechnick, Neiman Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
17 76 Dumas, Dumez, Narac Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
18 61 Fomenko, Vasiliev, Bouchut Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
19 7 Minassian, CampbellW., Wallace DBA Judd LM P1
20 72 Policand, Campbell, Alphand Porsche 911 GT3 RS LM GT2
21 37 Belmondo, Andre, Sutherland Courage C65 Ford LM P2
22 89 Nielsen, Thyrring, Ehret Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
23 25 Erdos, Newton, Hughes Lola MG LM P2
24 36 Gosselin, Ojjeh, Sharpe Courage C65 Ford LM P2
25 30 Bennett, Mitchell, Mullen Courage Judd LM P2
26 83 Collin, Felbermayr, Shep Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
27 95 Hartshorne, Stanton, Johnson TVR Tuscan 400 R LM GT2
28 24 Terada, Roussel, Binnie WR Peugeot LM P2
Previous article Hour 20: Pescarolo Down to 1 Car
Next article Hour 22: Kristensen Pushing On
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