Hour 5: Brundle Bentley bows out

Battle for the lead

Hour 5: Brundle Bentley bows out

The Bentley Team was forced to resort to a one-pronged attack after the number seven car retired with engine problems in the fifth hour of the Le Mans 24 hour race, while the Audi of Tom Kristensen continues serenely on its way out front.
Guy Smith had been struggling in the EXP Speed 8 Bentley he shared with Martin Brundle and Stephane Ortelli and had steadily dropped from fourth place down to seventh. The GTP class car finally threw in the towel on the 55th lap and came to a halt on the grass beside the Porsche Curves.

The triumvirate of lead Audis seem unfazed by the atrocious conditions and continue serenely on their way out front. Tom Kristensen has taken over from Frank Biela and the Dane has extended the lead of the number one car to almost a lap over its sister R8.

Kristensen is setting a ferocious pace and consistently outpaced Rinaldo Capello in the number two car by more than five seconds a lap.

Johnny Herbert continued in the best-of-the-rest slot behind the works cars in the privateer Champion Audi and in fact managed to close the gap to Capello, but remains more than two minutes adrift.

The outlook may be grey for Bentley after losing the Brundle car, but it is not all bad as the sister car of Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and Eric Van de Poele is soldiering on in fourth place.

The number 15 Chrysler-Mopar and the number 17 Courgae-Peugeot swapped places during a driver change, with the former dropping back to sixth place, allowing Laurent Redon in the Pescarolo car to take fifth.

The Bernard/Collard/Goosens Cadillac had an eventful hour with Marc Goosens behind the wheel. First the Belgian beached the DAMS-run car in the gravel at turn one and then, once making it back onto the track, proceeded to put it into the barrier at Mulsanne corner a lap later. Goosens did make it back to the pits, but the future looks doubtful.



After a pace-car free hour, the LMP675 class lead see-sawed back in favour of MG when the McGarrity/Blundell/Bailey car took the lead and stretched out a 1m55.116s ahead of the hitherto class-leading ROC car.

Similar see-sawing also took place in the GTS class as the two leading Corvettes swapped the lead as the rain held off. By the end of the hour the Fellows/O'Connell/Scott car held a 1m1s lead over Pilgrim/Collins/Freon, who were a massive three laps faster than the Saleen of McKellar/Lambert/Mowlem.

The GT class was more exciting: the Jeannette/Dumas/Haezebrouck Freisinger Porsche 911 was overtaken by the Luc Alphand 911 of Alphand/Ligonnet/Marques stretched out a 1m7s gap at the head of the class despite the appalling weather.


1 (900) F.Biela/T.Kristensen/E.Pirro, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, 63 laps
2 (900) R Capello/L Aiello/C Pescatori, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, +1 lap
3 (900) J.Herbert/R.Kelleners/D.Theys, Audi R8, Champion Racing, +2:31.473
8 (GTP) A.Wallace/B.Leitzinger/E.Vande Poele, Bentley EXP Speed 8, Team Bentley, +2 laps
17 (900) J C. Boullion/S.Bourdais/L.Redon, Courage-Peugeot C60, Pescarolo Sport, +1:05.816
15 (900) Y.Dalmas/F.Montagny/S.Sarrazin, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, +3 laps
16 (900) O.Beretta/K.Wendlinger/P.Lamy, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, Team Playstation, +15.507
33 (675) K.McGarrity/M.Blundell/J.Bailey, MG-Lola EX257, MG Sport, +4 laps
14 (900) S.Ara/N.Amorim/M.Kondo, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, 1:07.579
38 (675) J.D. Deletraz/P.Farbe/J.Gene Reynard-Lehmann 01Q ROC Competition, +1:55.116

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

38 (675) J.D. Deletraz/P.Farbe/J.Gene Reynard-Lehmann 01Q ROC Competition, +4 laps

63 (GTS) R.Fellows/J.O'Connell/S.Pruett, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Corvette Racing, +5 laps

74 (GT) L.Alpland/M.Ligonnet/L.Marques, Porsche 911 GT3-R, Luc Alpland Adventure, +7 laps


(Class), No, Drivers, Car, Laps, Reason
4 (900) S.Johansson/T.Coronel/P.Lemarie, Audi R8, Johansson Motorsport, accident damage

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