Hour five: Audi on top, but it’s Super Mario time

Battle for the lead

Hour five: Audi on top, but it’s Super Mario time

Hour five started with an all-Danish scrap for third, Tom Kristensen's Audi harrying Jan Magnussen's Panoz, but unable to make the most of the traffic - perhaps Magnussen's tenacity in keeping Kristensen back came from knowing that sooner, rather than later, the slightly more sedate Mario Andretti would have to take the wheel of the number 11 Panoz...? Eventually, though, the status quo was restored and Kristensen made it an Audi one-two-three again with a move on the Panoz at the first Mulsanne chicane.

Any minor glitches so far seem to be coming from the Audi drivers, not from the cars themselves - cue Christian Abt taking to an escape road in the second-placed number seven car, but continuing without losing a place. And cue a new fastest lap, this time for Kristensen in the third-placed Audi, who set the time just prior to pitting, but not changing drivers or tyres.

Behind the big four, the Rafanelli Lola had 'stealthed' its way into fifth, ahead of the highest-placed Cadillac, the DAM'S LMP of Bernard/Collard/Montagny.

At 2038, it was time to take the wraps off a legend, with Jan Magnussen stepping out of the 11 Panoz and Mario Andretti getting in after a struggle with the belts - make or break time for the Panoz challenge?

Magnussen: "The car had a really good balance and I was just trying to keep a good rhythm. The car was a lot better than I expected."

At 2040, a wounded number one Cadillac came into the pits with Franck Lagorce at the wheel and rear suspension and wing damage. Andy Wallace was scheduled to get back in it, but as the silver machine was wheeled into the garage for some fairly significant repairs, things didn't look particularly positive.

Lagorce: "I had a rear tyre explode at 190mph. We don't know the damage yet, but I know the mechanics will do their best. We also have a small fuel problem. But at least we can do three stints with the tyres and the balance is good."

As he'd readily admit, Andretti was never going to be the hare in the number 11 Panoz, but he did start his stint with laps around three seconds off the Brabham/Magnussen pace - not the end of the world, but not an Audi-frightener either.


Bad news for the ROC-VW squad, with its number 33 car of Deletraz/Kelleners/Terrien being wheeled into the truck with engine failure and its 34 car losing the class lead to the Multimac Lola-Nissan of Maxwell/Graham/Wilkins.

Better news for the ORECA Vipers, which not only led the GTS class in one-two-three formation, but also moved within sniffing distance of the top 10, holding 15th, 16th and 17th with the Archer/Duez/Huisman car picking up the leader's baton once again.

The Corvettes were still running fourth and fifth, but not looking like challenging the ORECA Vipers for pace - a spin for Kelly Collins in the 64 car didn't help things. In the GT class, Dick Barbour Racing continued to fight beyond their weight, holding 22nd overall, ahead of a handful of decent GTS Vipers.


Game over for the All-Dutch Konrad Motorsport Lola, but not for what you might think. The car is out of it not because of the three-wheeled incident, but because driver Tom Coronel moved more than 50 metres away from it during that particular saga.
Long pit stop for the number 17 SMG Courage-Judd C60, including a look under the engine cover. The car's now lost its top 10 position, dropping to 13th overall.


Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), 72 laps
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), 52.708s
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 1m27.304s
11, D Brabham, J Magnussen, M Andretti, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), 1 lap
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radiguez, E Naspetti, Lola-Judd B2K (900) 2 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Rapanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900) 2 laps
3, E Bernard, E Collard, F Montagny, Cadillac LMP (900) 2 laps
15, T Bscher, J M Gounon, G Lees, BMW LMP (900) 3 laps
24, S Johansson, J Matthews, G Smith, Reynard-Judd 2KQ (900) 3 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, Courage-Peugeot C52 (900) 3 laps


Class No Driver Car Time
900 8, T Kristensen Audi R8 3m38.184s


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola-Nissan B2K/40 @ 7 laps
52, T Archer, M Duez, p Huisman, Chrysler Viper @ 6 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R @ 8 laps


No Drivers Car Laps Reason
4, M Goossens, C Tinseau, K Kolby, DAM'S Cadillac LMP (900), fire - 5 laps
5, Y Dalmas, N Minassian, J P Belloc, ORECA Reynard-Mopar 2KQ (900), oil pressure - 1 lap

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