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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