Le Mans 24 Hours Hour 23: Audi still ahead amid rain chaos

Audi is still on course for victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, despite a sudden and heavy rain shower with just under 90 minutes remaining that threw the race into disarray

Le Mans 24 Hours Hour 23: Audi still ahead amid rain chaos

Leader Tom Kristensen had only just pitted his #2 R18 e-tron quattro unexpectedly after suffering a slow puncture when the rain began to fall across the circuit, forcing him to pit again on the following lap for a set of wets.

As that was happening, Nicolas Lapierre was suffering a front-end twitch at the entry to the Porsche curves and planting his fourth-placed Toyota into the tyre wall at high speed.

While the Frenchman - who had been seven laps clear of fifth-placed Benoit Treluyer - was able to drive back to the pits after a loss of around two minutes, he is now in the garage and could be passed by Treluyer's Audi before the end of the race.

The other Toyota, that of Sebastien Buemi, had been second and less than 30 seconds ahead of Oliver Jarvis' Audi, but with the Brit being delayed by a red light in the pitlane as a result of the safety car coming out, the gap is now more like half a lap.

LMP2 leader Bertrand Baguette was one of three drivers in the class to aquaplane off the track while on slicks on the run down towards Indianapolis, but managed to keep his advantage over his OAK Racing team-mate Olivier Pla.

Pla had been closing by up to 4s per lap prior to the rainstorm and had reduced his deficit to Baguette to just over a minute.

Jann Mardenborough's hopes of challenging John Martin for a podium finish appear to have been ended by a puncture prior to the rain arriving. The #42 Greaves Zytek-Nissan lying fourth.

Richard Lietz led the GTE Pro division, the #92 Porsche driver having stayed out on slicks when the rain hit.

The rival #97 Aston Martin, handed over to Stefan Mucke by Darren Turner at the top of the hour, pitted for wets at the same moment, only for the team to put slicks back on before sending the car out in third spot.

The sister Porsche of Patrick Pilet was shod with wets at the same time, moving ahead of the Aston and into second.

The Manthey-run 911 RSR's therefore hold the top two positions in the class, something that seemed unlikely when Lietz spun at Tertre Rouge at the start of the hour.

The #76 Imsa Porsche continues to climb the order after its near-faultless run. Jean-Karl Vernay is currently at the wheel.

POSITIONS AFTER 23 HOURS Pos Cl Car Drivers Laps Gap 1. P1 #2 Audi Kristensen/McNish/Duval 335 2. P1 #8 Toyota Davidson/Sarrazin/Buemi 334 + 1 Lap 3. P1 #3 Audi Gene/Jarvis/di Grassi 334 + 4m10.508s 4. P1 #7 Toyota Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima 332 + 3 Laps 5. P1 #1 Audi Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler 325 + 10 Laps 6. P1 #21 HPD Leventis/Kane/Watts 319 + 16 Laps 7. P2 #35 Morgan Baguette/Plowman/Gonzalez 316 + 19 Laps 8. P2 #24 Morgan Pla/Brundle/H Hansson 316 + 7m04.838s 9. P2 #26 Oreca Rusinov/Martin/Conway 315 + 20 Laps 10. P2 #42 Zytek Krumm/Mardenborough/Ordonez 314 + 21 Laps 11. P2 #49 Oreca P-Companc/Kaffer/Minassian 312 + 23 Laps 12. P2 #46 Oreca Thiriet/Badey/Martin 310 + 25 Laps 13. P2 #43 Morgan Gachnang/Mailleux/Lombard 308 + 27 Laps 14. P2 #48 Oreca Hartley/Chandhok/Patterson 307 + 28 Laps 15. P2 #38 Zytek Dolan/Turvey/Luhr 306 + 29 Laps 16. P2 #36 Alpine Ragues/Panciatici/Gommendy 305 + 30 Laps 17. GTP #92 Porsche Lieb/Lietz/Dumas 303 + 32 Laps 18. GTP #97 Aston Mucke/Turner/Dumbreck 302 + 33 Laps 19. GTP #91 Porsche Bergmeister/Pilet/Bernhard 302 + 6m47.001s 20. P2 #34 Oreca Frey/Niederhauser/Bleekemolen 302 + 11m13.206s 21. GTP #71 Ferrari Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander 299 + 36 Laps 22. GTP #74 Corvette Gavin/Milner/Westbrook 299 + 58.808s 23. GTP #51 Ferrari Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli 299 + 2m47.004s 24. GTP #73 Corvette Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor 299 + 2m49.327s 25. P2 #41 Zytek Rossi/K-Smith/Lux 295 + 40 Laps 26. GTP #53 SRT Farnbacher/Goossens/Dalziel 294 + 41 Laps 27. GTA #76 Porsche Narac/Vernay/Bourret 294 + 4m20.862s 28. GTA #55 Ferrari Perazzini/O'Young/Case 293 + 42 Laps 29. GTA #61 Ferrari Gerber/Griffin/Cioci 293 + 4m07.726s 30. GTA #77 Porsche Dempsey/Foster/Long 292 + 43 Laps 31. GTA #50 Corvette Bornhauser/Canal/Taylor 290 + 45 Laps 32. GTA #96 Aston Goethe/Campbell-Walter/Hall 289 + 46 Laps 33. GTA #67 Porsche Gibon/Milesi/Henzler 289 + 2m29.816s 34. GTP #93 SRT Wittmer/Kendall/Bomarito 289 + 3m13.633s 35. P2 #40 Oreca Dagoneau/Downs/Younessi 288 + 47 Laps 36. GTP #66 Ferrari Bertolini/Faisal/Qubaisi 288 + 3m55.515s 37. GTA #88 Porsche Ried/Roda/Ruberti 287 + 48 Laps 38. GTA #75 Porsche Collard/Perrodo/Crubile 286 + 49 Laps 39. GTA #81 Ferrari Potolicchio/Aguas/Bright 283 + 52 Laps 40. P1 #12 Lola Prost/Jani/Heidfeld 273 + 62 Laps 41. P1 #13 Lola Beche/Belicchi/Cheng 273 + 1h04m29.490s 42. P2 #39 Lola Porta/Brandela/Raffin 269 + 66 Laps 43. GTA #70 Corvette MacNeil/Rodrigues/Dumas 255 + 80 Laps 44. P2 #33 HPD Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe 240 + 95 Laps 45. GTP #99 Aston Makowiecki/Senna/Bell 248 Retired 46. P2 #45 Morgan Nicolet/Merlin/Mondolot 246 Retired 47. P2 #47 Morgan Imperatori/Howson/Tung 241 Retired 48. GTP #98 Aston Dalla Lana/Lamy/Auberlen 221 Retired 49. P2 #32 Lotus Holzer/Kraihamer/Charouz 219 Retired 50. P2 #30 Lola Mowlem/Burgess/Hirschi 153 Retired 51. GTA #54 Ferrari Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank 147 Retired 52. GTA #57 Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani 111 Retired 53. P2 #25 Oreca Graves/Hamilton/Nakano 101 Retired 54. P2 #28 Lola Giroix/Haezebrouck/Ihara 22 Retired 55. P2 #31 Lotus Weeda/Rossiter/Bouchut 17 Retired 56. GTA #95 Aston Simonsen/Nygaard/Poulsen 2 Retired 
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