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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