Le Mans 24 Hours eighth hour: Audi holds on as track action calms

Audi held on to the lead in a calmer eighth hour of the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours. Marcel Fassler completed an uneventful multi-stint run in the leading #1 R18 e-tron quattro, handing over to Andre Lotterer at the end of the hour

Le Mans 24 Hours eighth hour: Audi holds on as track action calms

Racing continued under clear skies as the sun set over the Circuit de la Sarthe, with the TS030 Hybrid that had seized the lead so audaciously in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre still parked in the Toyota garage while the team effected repairs.

Alex Wurz left the garage with 15 minutes of the hour to go, but the car stopped before the end of the pitlane and it had to be pushed all the way back. It is still yet to return, and has dropped more than 20 laps off the lead.

The #1 Audi presided over a denuded leading group of LMP1s, a leading margin of a lap enabling Fassler to exercise caution in traffic. Dindo Capello kept the #2 car's hopes alive by lapping briskly in the second R18 e-tron quattro before handing over to Allan McNish, with Oliver Jarvis third in the #4 R18 ultra.

The Rebellion Lolas led the privateer LMP1s, now separated by two minutes, with the #12 car driven by Nicolas Prost ahead in spite of Nick Heidfeld's earlier spin. But sixth-placed Peter Dumbreck was on the move in the JRM HPD, reeling the Rebellion cars in during the course of his stint before picking up a left-rear puncture just before the turn of the hour.

The LMP2 battle showed no signs of letting up. Warren Hughes moved into the lead in the #48 Murphy Prototypes ORECA-Nissan as the pitstops shook out.

Erstwhile class leader Maxime Martin had to return to the pits in the #35 OAK Morgan-Nissan after collecting a puncture on the out-lap after his routine stop, dropping to sixth in class. Olivier Pla ran in second in the #24 OAK Morgan while Tom Kimber-Smith, Soheil Ayari and Nelson Panciatici were separated by just 40 seconds.

Oliver Gavin had GTE Pro thoroughly under control in the #74 Corvette, leading Gianmaria Bruni's slightly more frugal Ferrari and the second Corvette of Antonio Garcia.

The leading GTE Am teams put their professional drivers in for the first nocturnal stint. Pedro Lamy's #50 Larbre Corvette held a lap's advantage over Nicolas Armindo in the IMSA Performance Porsche, with Michele Rugolo third in the Krohn Ferrari.

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

- Huge crash for Anthony Davidson in the #8 Toyota, leading to lengthy safety car period.

- #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.

- Garage checks for Tom Kristensen in the #2 Audi, the third unexpected delay for the marque across its four cars.

- Titanic GTE Pro scrap between Corvette, Aston Martin and Ferrari.

- Misfire for #99 Aston Martin Vantage hands #79 Flying Lizard Porsche sizeable GTE Am lead.

- The #17 Pescarolo started the race from the pitlane after an engine change ran late. The team's #16 Dome also pitted with drivetrain issues.

- The quickest LMP1 qualifier, Strakka Racing's HPD, was pushed back into the garage before the start and joined the race on lap six.

POSITIONS AFTER 6 HOURS

Pos Car            Drivers                      Class  Laps  Gap
 1. #1  Audi       Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer    LMP1   121   
 2. #2  Audi       McNish/Capello/Kristensen    LMP1   120   +     1 Lap
 3. #4  Audi       Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller LMP1   120   +   16.358s
 4. #12 Lola       Prost/Heidfeld/Jani          LMP1   118   +    3 Laps
 5. #13 Lola       Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat  LMP1   117   +    4 Laps
 6. #22 HPD        Brabham/Dumbreck/Chandhok    LMP1   114   +    7 Laps
 7. #48 Oreca      Firth/Hartley/Hughes         LMP2   114   + 1m47.168s
 8. #3  Audi       Gene/Dumas/Duval             LMP1   114   + 2m35.021s
 9. #24 Morgan     Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla           LMP2   114   + 2m59.466s
10. #44 HPD        Potolicchio/Dalziel/K-Smith  LMP2   113   +    8 Laps
11. #49 Oreca      Perez Companc/Kaffer/Ayari   LMP2   113   +    9.892s
12. #26 Oreca      Ragues/Panciatici/Rusinov    LMP2   113   +   37.865s
13. #15 OAK        Montagny/Kraihamer/Baguette  LMP1   113   + 2m03.758s
14. #38 Zytek      Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa       LMP2   112   +    9 Laps
15. #23 Oreca      Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard     LMP2   112   +   11.371s
16. #30 Lola       Sims/Buurman/Iannetta        LMP2   112   +   41.759s
17. #45 Oreca      Briere/Nakano/Petersen       LMP2   112   + 1m43.259s
18. #33 HPD        Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz          LMP2   112   + 2m43.727s
19. #46 Oreca      Thiriet/Beche/Tinseau        LMP2   112   + 3m08.321s
20. #35 Morgan     H Hansson/Leinders/Martin    LMP2   111   +   10 Laps
21. #21 HPD        Leventis/Kane/Watts          LMP1   111   + 5m48.040s
22. #25 Oreca      Martin/Charouz/Graves        LMP2   111   + 7m05.790s
23. #41 Zytek      Zugel/Julian/Gonzalez        LMP2   111   + 8m50.133s
24. #40 Oreca      Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry        LMP2   110   +   11 Laps
25. #42 Zytek      Brundle/Brundle/Ordonez      LMP2   110   +   27.961s
26. #74 Corvette   Gavin/Westbrook/Milner       GTEP   109   +   12 Laps
27. #51 Ferrari    Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander    GTEP   109   +   40.055s
28. #31 Lola       Holzer/Schultis/Moro         LMP2   108   +   13 Laps
29. #73 Corvette   Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor      GTEP   108   + 1m21.005s
30. #59 Ferrari    Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher   GTEP   108   + 1m37.532s
31. #77 Porsche    Lietz/Lieb/Henzler           GTEP   107   +   14 Laps
32. #97 Aston      Mucke/Fernandez/Turner       GTEP   107   +   19.729s
33. #50 Corvette   Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy        GTEA   106   +   15 Laps
34. #67 Porsche    Pons/Armindo/Narac           GTEA   106   + 1m24.036s
35. #66 Ferrari    Walker/Cocker/Wills          GTEP   105   +   16 Laps
36. #57 Ferrari    Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo         GTEA   105   + 2m11.653s
37. #71 Ferrari    Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci      GTEP   104   +   17 Laps
38. #61 Ferrari    Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers       GTEA   104   +   38.947s
39. #70 Corvette   Bourret/Gibon/Belloc         GTEA   103   +   18 Laps
40. #43 Norma      Rosier/Haezebrouck/Thirion   LMP2   101   +   20 Laps
41. #55 Porsche    Daniels/Palttala/Camathias   GTEA   101   +11m59.074s
42. #58 Ferrari    Ehret/Jeannette/Montecalvo   GTEA   101   +13m25.855s
43. #88 Porsche    Ried/Roda/Ruberti            GTEA   101   +14m11.287s
44. #80 Porsche    Bergmeister/Long/Holzer      GTEP   99    +   22 Laps
45. #7  Toyota     Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima       LMP1   98    +   23 Laps
46. #75 Porsche    al Faisal/Curtis/Edwards     GTEA   98    +1h18m25.8s
47. #17 Dome       Minassian/Bourdais/Ara       LMP1   95    +   26 Laps
48. #83 Ferrari    Rodrigues/Illiano/Ferte      GTEA   90    +   31 Laps
49. #79 Porsche    Neiman/Pumpelly/Pilet        GTEA   90    +55m50.648s
50. #28 Lola       Giroix/Badey/Johansson       LMP2   89    +   32 Laps
51. #0  DeltaWing  Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama    CDNT   75    +   46 Laps
52. #8  Toyota     Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin      LMP1   82    +   39 Laps
53. #81 Ferrari    Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin      GTEA   70    +   51 Laps
54. #99 Aston      Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen     GTEA   31    +   90 Laps
55. #16 Pescarolo  Collard/Bouillon/Hall        LMP1   20    +  101 Laps
56. #29 Lola       Ihara/Deletraz/Rostan        LMP2   17    +  104 Laps
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Le Mans 24 Hours seventh hour: Audi tightens grip as Toyota clashes with DeltaWing
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