Hour 8: dropping like flies

The Witching Hour at Le Mans was full of incident, especially for cars down the field. But at the front the gap between Dindo Capello and Johnny Herbert's Bentleys, in first and second, dropped from 45s t0 38s, while the gap between the third and fourth placed Audis was also reduced

Hour 8: dropping like flies

Bentley had a bit of a kerfuffle in the pitstop of its #8 car, tiredness beginning to tell on the pit crew. The wheel man clearly wasn't in on the plan to second stint the tyres and loosened one of the rear wheelnuts before realising the car was not going to go up on its jacks. David Brabham was also poised to take over, seat in hand, but Tom Kristensen waved him away.

Jean-Marc Gounon had a solid stint in the Courage Judd and wrestled the car from 14th up to an incredible seventh. Gounon joined the battle between the ninth and 10th placed #12 Panoz and the #4 Riley Scott, on his way up, thrilling the nightowls in the crowd with wheel-to-wheel racing action.

Anthony Davidson stuffed the Veloqx Prodrive #80 Ferrari into the tyres at the first chicane, but he recovered and returned to the pits for a check-up. He returned to the fray with a clean bill of health shortly afterwards, but lost two laps and second place in the GTS class to the #53 Corvette.

Others with a hankering for the beach were the #66 Saleen, which needed a push to get out of the gravel at the Dunlop Bridge, and the #68 Chrysler, which needed a tow. The pair were running eighth and ninth in the GTS class. The Saleen pulled over at the Tertre Rouge esses shortly afterwards, while the Chrysler went on to spin and recover.

The Orange Spyker team had gearbox problems and retired for one-and-half hours to affect repairs. The #21 Norma Ford - running second last in the LMP 900 class, dropped all its oil in the pits - while the remaining TVR lost drive on the back stretch after a pitstop for flat-spotted tyres.

David Halliday, the son of France's 'golden boy' Johnny Halliday, finally got out of the pits after a seven hour pitstop! The Courage LMP 675 was dumped unceremoniously in the gravel shortly afterwards.

Kristensen/Capello/Smith Bentley 126 laps
Brabham/Herbert/Blundell Bentley 125 laps
Pirro/Lehto/Johansson Audi 124 laps
Ara/Magnussen/Werner Audi 124 laps
Lammers/Bosch/Wallace Dome-Judd 121 laps
Beretta/Jeannette/Papis Panoz 120 laps
Cochet/Gounon/Gregoire Courage-Judd 119 laps
Goossens/Matthews/Tinseau Riley & Scott 118 laps
Helary/Ayari/Minassian Courage-Peugeot 118 laps
Saelens/Maxwell/Leuenberger Panoz 118 laps

Andre/Maury-Laribiere/Pillon Reynard-Lehman 109 laps
Field/Dayton/Sutherland Lola-MG 95 107 laps
Nielsen/Shimoda/Elgaard DBA-Zytek 106 laps

Kox/Enge/Davies Ferrari 550 114 laps
Burt/Davidson/Turner Ferrari 550 113 laps
Fellows/O Connell/Freon Corvette 113 laps

Luhr/Maasen/Collard Porsche 911 108 laps
Yogo/Nishizawa/Iida Porsche 911 107 laps
Mowlem/Lewis/Leitzinger Porsche 911 105 laps

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Guy Smith race diary: 11pm

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