Hour 6: Kristensen a Lap Ahead

Six-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen continued to lead the Le Mans 24 Hours, as it reaches one quarter distance

Hour 6: Kristensen a Lap Ahead

Kristensen took over the number 3 Champion Racing Audi R8 an hour ago from Marco Werner and immediately settled into a comfortable pace of 3:43s laps. This helped him stay more than a minute clear of the R8 from the rival ORECA camp with Stephane Ortelli at the wheel and his own teammate Allan McNish a further minute down on him.

Ortelli was briefly delayed by a run through a gravel trap after he hit debris from the rear bodywork that had flown off Bruce Jouanny's works Courage, but he managed to keep the car away from the barriers.

Ortelli pitted out of sequence, but worse was to follow as Jean-Marc Gounon found there to be a problem when he took over for his first stint and brought it back smokily to the pits with a suspension problem after a single, smokey lap. Once the front wheels were inspected and a wishbone was replaced, Gounon rejoined, but he'd dropped back to sixth place.

This elevated Frank Biela to second place for Champion Racing after he took over from McNish for his first stint. The loss of position by the ORECA Audi helped Domes climb to third and fourth, with Ryo Michigami's Jim Gainer-run hybrid chassis running almost a lap ahead of Jan Lammers' Racing for Holland LMP900 version.

Gounon was soon on the move again at speed and quickly worked his way back up to fifth as he passed Vanina Ickx in the Rollcentre Racing Dallara. The slight Belgian wasn't being defeated by a lack of power steering, though, but she was losing ground. Gounon then hunted down Lammers and passed him for fourth.

However, the big news was that the Pescarolos were absolutely flying, with Emmanuel Collard lapping as many as six seconds per lap faster than the race leader, therefore taking even larger chunks of time off the others.

The Pescarolos had much ground to make up, though, as World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb was attempting to recover from being down in eighth place overall and Emmanuel Collard was pushing even harder as he worked his way forward from 13th, setting a string of fastest laps. By the end of the sixth hour, Loeb was up to sixth on his first stint, with Collard having worked his way past the GT1 class battle to make it up to 10th.

The lead has changed in the LMP2 class, with the Sam Hancock/Gregor Fisken/Liz Halliday Intersport Lola taking over from Adam Sharpe in the number 36 Paul Belmondo Racing Courage, a car delayed by a lap at the start. The Kruse Motorsport Courage has dropped to third in class.

The GT1 battle between the Aston Martins and the Corvettes swung towards the American cars, with Max Papis taking the class lead and running 11th overall before handing over to Ron Fellows. Jan Magnussen handed the sister car back to Oliver Gavin, with Peter Kox splitting them as he did so in the better-placed of the two DBR9s.

Alex Job Racing is back in front in GT2, with Mike Rockenfeller taking over from White Lightning Racing w2hich has just installed American driver Patrick Long in the cockpit.

Official retirements:

Number 20 PiR Pilbeam - transmission;
Number 33 Intersport Racing Courage-AER - suspension;
Number 37 Paul Belmondo Racing Courage-Ford;
Number 39 Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport Lola - oil fire;
Bumber 77 Panoz Esperante - engine

Pos # Drivers Make Class On Hour 6
1 3 Lehto, Werner, Kristensen Audi R8 LM P1
2 2 Biela, Pirro, McNish Audi R8 LM P1
3 5 Michigami, Ara, Kaneishi Dome Mugen LM P1
4 4 Montagny, Gounon, Ortelli Audi R8 LM P1
5 10 Lammers, Julian, Bosch Dome Judd LM P1
6 17 Loeb, Helary, Ayari Pescarolo Judd LM P1
7 18 Short, Barbosa, Ickx Dallara Judd LM P1
8 9 Hignett, Stack, Kurosawa Zytek 04S LM P1
9 12 Schwager, Frei, Vann Courage Judd LM P1
10 16 Collard, Boullion, Comas Pescarolo Judd LM P1
11 63 Fellows, O'Connell, Papis Corvette C6-R LM GT1
12 58 Enge, Kox, Lamy Aston Martin DBR9 LM GT1
13 64 Gavin, Beretta, Magnussen Corvette C6-R LM GT1
14 59 Brabham, Sarrazin, Turner Aston Martin DBR9 LM GT1
15 32 Fisken, Halliday, Hancock Lola AER LM P2
16 50 Goueslard, Dupard, Vosse Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
17 61 Fomenko, Vasiliev, Bouchut Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
18 71 Hindery, Rockenfell., Lieb Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
19 90 Bergmeist., Long, Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
20 7 Minassian, CampbellW., Wallace DBA Judd LM P1
21 36 Gosselin, Ojjeh, Sharpe Courage C65 Ford LM P2
22 37 Belmondo, Andre, Sutherland Courage C65 Ford LM P2
23 31 Amorim, Iannetta, Pillon Courage - CG LM P2
24 34 Macaluso, James, Lally Courage AER LM P2
25 76 Dumas, Dumez, Narac Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
26 72 Policand, Campbell, Alphand Porsche 911 GT3 RS LM GT2
27 30 Bennett, Mitchell, Mullen Courage Judd LM P2
28 80 Overbeek, Pechnick, Neiman Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
29 91 Pompidou, Blanchema., Yamagishi Porsche 911 GT3 RS LM GT2
30 89 Nielsen, Thyrring, Ehret Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
31 35 Hillebrand, Hahn, Pickering Courage C65 Judd LM P2
32 92 Macari, Eriksson, Wilson Ferrari 360 Mo. GTC LM GT2
33 25 Erdos, Newton, Hughes Lola MG LM P2
34 93 Kinch, Kirkaldy, Reid Ferrari 360 Modena LM GT2
35 51 Pescatori, Gollin, Ramos Ferrari 550 Maranello LM GT1
36 85 Coronel, Crevels, Merksteijn Spyker C8 Spyder LM GT2
37 83 Collin, Felbermayr, Shep Porsche 911 GT3 RSR LM GT2
38 69 Fournoux, Daoudi, Matthews Ferrari 575 GTC LM GT1
39 23 Bouvet, Boulay, Julien WR LM P2
40 78 Sellers, Franchitti, Bourdais Panoz Elan LM GT2
41 13 Cochet, Nakano, Jouanny Courage Judd LM P1
42 95 Hartshorne, Stanton, Johnson TVR Tuscan 400 R LM GT2
43 24 Terada, Roussel, Binnie WR Peugeot LM P2
44 8 Verdon Roe, Krumm, Primat Dallara Nissan LM P1
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Hour 5: Audis Marching On
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