Le Mans 24 Hours 18th hour: #2 Audi takes lead in dramatic hour

The battle between the two Audi e-trons for Le Mans victory took another twist in the 18th hour as another incident for the #1 Audi led to wheel to wheel racing between the team-mates and ultimately a narrow lead for Tom Kristensen in the #2

Le Mans 24 Hours 18th hour: #2 Audi takes lead in dramatic hour

Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler are having to share the #1 e-tron between them for the final run-in as Benoit Treluyer has been taken ill. Fassler took over from Lotterer early in the hour but then encountered the #74 Corvette spinning at Mulsanne, and damaged his car's rear bodywork as he swiped the barriers in avoidance.

Audi opted to leave Fassler's battered car out until its next scheduled stop, when he was wheeled into the garage so the rear wing and legality panel could be replaced. That took little more than two minutes, but allowed the #2 right into the hunt.

When Kristensen made his next fuel stop, he rejoined just inches ahead of Fassler, who attacked down the Mulsanne Straight, drafting ahead towards the first chicane but then braking too late and skittering over the gravel. As Fassler slithered back onto the track sideways, Kristensen accelerated around him and back into the lead. The Dane had had his own close call in traffic not long earlier, in the shape of a brush with the JWA Porsche.

The two ultras are still third and fourth, with Loic Duval in the fourth-placed #3 car still setting new fastest laps having now reached 3m24.189s.

Behind the Audis' intra-team battle, Rebellion remains fifth and sixth ahead of JRM, and Starworks, AF Corse and Larbre retain their class leads.

NOTES

- #1 Audi gets rear bodywork damage in incident with #74 Corvette, then goes wheel to wheel with #2 after repairs in next pitstop

- Mucke damages the #97 Aston Martin in a crash at Indianapolis, dropping it away from GTE Pro leaders

- The #48 ORECA-Nissan driven by Brendon Hartley has retired after contact with the Status Lola

- Faisal spins the #75 Porsche at Porsche Curves, hitting the wall to bring the safety car out

- Marcel Fassler spins the #1 Audi e-tron at the Porsche curves, handing the lead to McNish

- Dumas tipped into a spin while passing traffic at Ford chicane

- Davidson confirms he sustained a broken back as a result of huge earlier crash

- Westbrook loses a wheel, and with it the lead of the GTE Pro class

- Peter Dumbreck suffers blow-out in the #22 JRM HPD

- Spin at Ford chicane for #21 Strakka HPD

- Problems for the #7 Toyota following collision with DeltaWing at the restart

- #29 Gulf Racing Lola B12 the first official retirement

- #40 hit with a two-minute stop and go penalty for second pitlane speeding offence

- 30s pit stop penalties for #40 and #49 LMP2s for speeding in pitlane

- Audi hits early niggles, with Tom Kristensen the third unexpected delay for the marque across its four cars

- Early GTE Pro scrap between Corvette, Aston Martin and Ferrari

- #99 Aston Martin Vantage suffers early misfire and then retires with damage

POSITIONS AFTER 18 HOURS

Pos Car            Drivers                      Class  Laps  Gap
 1. #2  Audi       McNish/Capello/Kristensen    LMP1   283   
 2. #1  Audi       Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer    LMP1   283   +    1.661s
 3. #4  Audi       Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller LMP1   281   +    2 Laps
 4. #3  Audi       Gene/Dumas/Duval             LMP1   274   +    9 Laps
 5. #12 Lola       Prost/Heidfeld/Jani          LMP1   274   + 1m44.813s
 6. #13 Lola       Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat  LMP1   268   +   15 Laps
 7. #22 HPD        Brabham/Dumbreck/Chandhok    LMP1   266   +   17 Laps
 8. #44 HPD        Potolicchio/Dalziel/K-Smith  LMP2   264   +   19 Laps
 9. #21 HPD        Leventis/Kane/Watts          LMP1   264   +   57.435s
10. #49 Oreca      Perez Companc/Kaffer/Ayari   LMP2   264   + 1m48.122s
11. #46 Oreca      Thiriet/Beche/Tinseau        LMP2   264   + 3m19.201s
12. #26 Oreca      Ragues/Panciatici/Rusinov    LMP2   264   + 3m19.957s
13. #41 Zytek      Zugel/Julian/Gonzalez        LMP2   260   +   23 Laps
14. #25 Oreca      Martin/Charouz/Graves        LMP2   260   +   21.846s
15. #35 Morgan     H Hansson/Leinders/Martin    LMP2   256   +   27 Laps
16. #51 Ferrari    Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander    GTEP   251   +   32 Laps
17. #42 Zytek      Brundle/Brundle/Ordonez      LMP2   251   + 1m39.343s
18. #23 Oreca      Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard     LMP2   251   + 1m54.426s
19. #59 Ferrari    Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher   GTEP   250   +   33 Laps
20. #97 Aston      Mucke/Fernandez/Turner       GTEP   247   +   36 Laps
21. #71 Ferrari    Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci      GTEP   247   + 1m09.708s
22. #38 Zytek      Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa       LMP2   246   +   37 Laps
23. #50 Corvette   Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy        GTEA   245   +   38 Laps
24. #67 Porsche    Pons/Armindo/Narac           GTEA   245   +   14.548s
25. #73 Corvette   Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor      GTEP   244   +   39 Laps
26. #45 Oreca      Briere/Nakano/Petersen       LMP2   241   +   42 Laps
27. #57 Ferrari    Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo         GTEA   241   + 43m52.086s
28. #30 Lola       Sims/Buurman/Iannetta        LMP2   239   +   44 Laps
29. #40 Oreca      Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry        LMP2   233   +   50 Laps
30. #70 Corvette   Bourret/Gibon/Belloc         GTEA   231   +   52 Laps
31. #79 Porsche    Neiman/Pumpelly/Pilet        GTEA   230   +   53 Laps
32. #55 Porsche    Daniels/Palttala/Camathias   GTEA   228   +   55 Laps
33. #43 Norma      Rosier/Haezebrouck/Thirion   LMP2   225   +   58 Laps
34. #61 Ferrari    Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers       GTEA   224   +   59 Laps
35. #83 Ferrari    Rodrigues/Illiano/Ferte      GTEA   212   +   71 Laps
36. #74 Corvette   Gavin/Westbrook/Milner       GTEP   203   +   80 Laps
37. #17 Dome       Minassian/Bourdais/Ara       LMP1   195   +   88 Laps
38. #33 HPD        Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz          LMP2   240   +   43 Laps
39. #88 Porsche    Ried/Roda/Ruberti            GTEA   222   +   61 Laps
40. #15 OAK        Montagny/Kraihamer/Baguette  LMP1   219   +   64 Laps
41. #66 Ferrari    Walker/Cocker/Wills          GTEP   204   +   79 Laps
42. #48 Oreca      Firth/Hartley/Hughes         LMP2   196   +   87 Laps
43. #77 Porsche    Lietz/Lieb/Henzler           GTEP   184   +   99 Laps
44. #75 Porsche    al Faisal/Curtis/Edwards     GTEA   180   +  103 Laps
45. #31 Lola       Holzer/Schultis/Moro         LMP2   155   +  128 Laps
46. #58 Ferrari    Ehret/Jeannette/Montecalvo   GTEA   146   +  137 Laps
47. #24 Morgan     Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla           LMP2   139   +  144 Laps
48. #7  Toyota     Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima       LMP1   134   +  149 Laps
49. #80 Porsche    Bergmeister/Long/Holzer      GTEP   114   +  169 Laps
50. #28 Lola       Giroix/Badey/Johansson       LMP2   92    +  191 Laps
51. #8  Toyota     Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin      LMP1   82    +  201 Laps
52. #0  DeltaWing  Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama    CDNT   75    +  208 Laps
53. #81 Ferrari    Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin      GTEA   70    +  213 Laps
54. #99 Aston      Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen     GTEA   31    +  252 Laps
55. #16 Pescarolo  Collard/Bouillon/Hall        LMP1   20    +  263 Laps
56. #29 Lola       Ihara/Deletraz/Rostan        LMP2   17    +  266 Laps
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