Hour 7: Champion not feeling champion

Battle for the lead

Despite having a firm hold on the first and second positions of the 69th Le Mans 24 hour race, a chink may have appeared in the Audi armour after the retirement of the Champion R8 of Johnny Herbert, Ralf Kelleners and Didier Theys due to gearbox problems.
The privateer Audi was running a comfortable third and after Johnny Herbert handed the reins over to team mate Theys, the Belgian slowed before coming to a halt at the Arnage corner, unable to select a gear.

Despite the Champion problem's, the number one car of Biela/Kristensen/Pirro continues to hold the lead comfortably, one lap ahead of Pescatori in the sister Joest-run machine.

Herbert and co's misfortune enables the sole remaining Bentley to inherit third place. But Butch Leitzinger, who is currently behind the wheel of the EXP Speed 8, is unlikely to make inroads into the gap to the leaders as the American is lapping almost a minute off the pace as gearbox problems persist.

The lead Pescarolo Sport car moves up into fourth place and continues to lap consistently, albeit four laps down. Olivier Beretta took over the driving duties in the number 17 Chrysler-Mopar in fifth place, while team mates Dalmas/Montagny/Sarrazin, who lie eighth were delayed by a body work change after a brief skirmish with a barrier by Yannick Dalmas.

As the race passed the 11pm mark the ROC Reynard of Deletraz/Fabre/Gene continued to dominate the LMP675 class from an impressive sixth place overall.

The second car in class is now the Dick Barbour Reynard of De Radigues/Maassen/Matsuda in a distant 24th, five laps adrift. MG's attack has all but come to an end. The McGarrity/Blundell/Bailey car has had its misfire fixed and was lying 12 laps adrift when it returned to the garage with an undetermined problem.

The Corvettes continue to dominate GTS but have slipped to 11th and 12th places. The Fellows/O'Connell/Scott car has swapped the lead once again with the sister car of Pilgrim/Collins/Freon. One lap separates the pair.

Seikel Motorsport's luck is holding out in GT. Roas/Babini/Drudi are 2m18.803s ahead of the Perspective Racing 911 of Perrier/Neugarten/Smith, albeit 10 laps behind the front of the field.

1 (900) F.Biela/T.Kristensen/E.Pirro, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, 88 laps
2 (900) R Capello/L Aiello/C Pescatori, Audi R8, Joest Audi Sport, + 1 lap
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, +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, +6 laps
3 (900) J.Herbert/R.Kelleners/D.Theys, Audi R8, Champion Racing, + 7 laps
15 (900) Y.Dalmas/F.Montagny/S.Sarrazin, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, +7 laps
20 (900) W.Lupberger/B.Collins/H.Toivonen, Ascari-Judd A410, Team Ascari, +7 laps
14 (900) S.Ara/N.Amorim/M.Kondo, Chrysler-Mopar LMP, ORECA Chrysler, +8 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, +6 laps

63 (GTS) R.Fellows/J.O'Connell/S.Pruett, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Corvette Racing, +8 laps

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