Hour 6: Conditions bad, Audi untroubled

Battle for the lead

Hour 6: Conditions bad, Audi untroubled

With conditions absolutely refusing to relent, Audi continues to dominate the Le Mans 24 hours with a monopoly on the top three spots, but with a water-logged track, blinding spray and darkness falling the race could be in for another spell behind the safety car.
Emanuele Pirro took over from Tom Kristensen in the lead R8 just after the six and a half hour mark and the number one car continues to hold station at the head of the pack.

Rinaldo Capello swapped places with Christian Pescatori some twenty minutes later in the second Joest Team-machine, which remains almost one lap behind. The gap stands at 4m23s and the appalling weather made it very difficult for Capello to try and close the gap.

"I think it's crazy, really crazy to race in these conditions," said Capello. "The only place you can push is at the Porsche Curves because that is the only part that has a proper race surface. I was only using 50 percent of the car's power on the Mulsanne straight. The only reason I finished the stint without crashing was just luck."

Johnny Herbert still finds himself in third place after more than two hours behind the wheel of the Champion Audi, but despite his efforts is unlikely to challenge the leaders unless they run into problems.

The number seven Bentley has officially retired from the event after speculation that the Apex-run team could try to get the car running again.

"We had some gearshift problems and then got stuck in sixth," said Guy Smith, who was driving the car when it gave up the ghost. "I managed to limp it round on the starter motor as far as the Porsche Curves, but then the clutch caught fire."

The sole remaining Bentley soldiered on through the sixth hour with Butch Leitzinger behind the wheel. The number eight EXP Speed 8 is in fourth place despite lapping at a reduced pace due to gearbox problems.

The Boullion/Bourdais/Redon Courage-Peugeot managed to hold onto fifth place even though Laurent Redon took a trip through the gravel.

In LMP675, MG's attack faltered before 10pm as the McGarrity/Blundell/Bailey car was pushed back into its garage with a misfire. This allowed the ROC car of Deletraz/Fabre/Gene to stretch its lead to two laps over the stricken MG.

In GTS, the Corvette of Pilgrim/Collins/Freon punched its way into the top 10 and now lies in ninth place, ahead of the sister car of Fellows/O'Connell/Scott by one lap.

The GT lead is now in the hands of the Seikel Motorsport Porsche of Roas/Babini/Drudi, who are a lap ahead of the Fresisinger 911 of as Jeannette/Dumas/Haezebrouck.


1 (900) F.Biela/T.Kristensen/E.Pirro, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, 76
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 laps
8 (GTP) A.Wallace/B.Leitzinger/E.Vande Poele, Bentley EXP Speed 8, Team Bentley, +3 laps
17 (900) J C. Boullion/S.Bourdais/L.Redon, Courage-Peugeot C60, Pescarolo Sport, +3 laps
15 (900) Y.Dalmas/F.Montagny/S.Sarrazin, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, +4 laps
16 (900) O.Beretta/K.Wendlinger/P.Lamy, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, Team Playstation, +4 laps
38 (675) J.D. Deletraz/P.Farbe/J.Gene Reynard-Lehmann 01Q ROC Competition, +5 laps
33 (675) K.McGarrity/M.Blundell/J.Bailey, MG-Lola EX257, MG Sport, +6 laps
64 (GTS) A.Pilgrim/K.Collins/F.Freon, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Corvette Racing, +7 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, +5 laps

64 (GTS) A.Pilgrim/K.Collins/F.Freon, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Corvette Racing, +6 laps

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