Le Mans 24 Hours: Safety car closes up Audi/Porsche lead battle

A four-way battle for the lead of the Le Mans 24 Hours between Audi and Porsche was closed up by a safety car period during the eighth hour

Le Mans 24 Hours: Safety car closes up Audi/Porsche lead battle

Two Audis (#9 and #7) and two Porsches (#17 and #19) were separated by 46 seconds before the safety cars were called when the Signatech LMP2 car hit trouble at Mulsanne Corner.

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All four of the lead cars were picked up in the same safety car group, closing up the field with Rene Rast leading in the #9 Audi.

Webber was next up in the #17 Porsche, which attempted the marque's first quadruple stint on a set of tyres.

Next up was Nico Hulkenberg, who returned to the cockpit to drag the #19 Porsche back into the thick of the lead battle, just ahead of the #7 Audi of Marcel Fassler.

The #18 Porsche fell out of contention earlier in the hour when Romain Dumas went straight on in dramatic fashion at Mulsanne Corner, hitting the barriers head-on but relatively gently.

The impact only caused enough damage to require a change of front bodywork at the end of the lap, where Neel Jani took the car over during a 1m33s pitstop.

LMP2

Paul-Loup Chatin's crash aboard the Signatech Alpine moved the G-Drive (OAK) Ligier back up to third in LMP2.

Sam Bird started a strong stint in eighth place and finished it fourth, before handing the #28 over to Roman Rusinov.

The car is a lap down on KCMG, which continues to lead, but on the same lap as the second-placed TDS Racing ORECA.

With no update on a potential pit penalty, Matt Howson spent the bulk of the hour running two-and-a-half minutes ahead of TDS's Gommendy, before the safety car intervened.

KCMG took the opportunity to pit, installing Richard Bradley, who is in the restart group behind Gommendy and looking to go a lap clear on the field.

Nathanel Berton is fourth for Murphy Prototypes, ahead of Pierre Ragues for Team SARD Morand and Pipo Derani in the second G-Drive Ligier.

With Laurens Vanthoor behind the wheel, the Honda-powered OAK Racing entry is eighth after Chris Cumming's earlier spin.

GTE

Corvette repelled an attack from the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage to lead in GTE Pro, but the four leading cars are almost together after the safety car.

Rob Bell passed team-mate Alex MacDowall to take the #97 into second place, as the Scot continued to struggle after Richie Stanaway's and Fernando Rees's good early work in the #99.

Bell proceeded to take chunks out of Chevrolet man Jordan Taylor's lead, trimming it to just over a second before inexplicably losing a lot of time in the next two laps.

Taylor's lead grew to a dozen seconds, but that was wiped out by the safety car - also handing the #99 a reprieve and bringing the tenacious #91 Porsche 911 RSR into the mix as well.

Ferrari also benefited from the safety car. Toni Vilander had got the lead AF Corse 458 Italia back onto the lead lap, but only just, and the caution period reduced that deficit to about three-quarters of a lap behind the safety car by the end of the eighth hour.

Aston's GTE Am lead remains intact, with Pedro Lamy back aboard the #98 Vantage and well clear of the squabbling Ferraris - the AF Corse #83 and the squad's SMP-badged #72.

POSITIONS AFTER EIGHT HOURS

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #9 Audi Albuquerque, Bonanomi, Rast 125
2 LMP1 #17 Porsche Bernhard, Webber, Hartley 125 + 4.015s
3 LMP1 #19 Porsche Hulkenberg, Bamber, Tandy 125 + 7.196s
4 LMP1 #7 Audi Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer 125 + 9.630s
5 LMP1 #18 Porsche Dumas, Jani, Lieb 124 + 1 Lap
6 LMP1 #8 Audi Di Grassi, Duval, Jarvis 124 + 2m07.874s
7 LMP1 #2 Toyota Wurz, Sarrazin, Conway 123 + 2 Laps
8 LMP1 #1 Toyota Davidson, Buemi, Nakajima 119 + 6 Laps
9 LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost, Heidfeld, Beche 119 + 2m09.482s
10 LMP1 #13 Rebellion Imperatori, Kraihamer, Abt 116 + 9 Laps
11 LMP2 #47 Oreca Howson, Bradley, Lapierre 114 + 11 Laps
12 LMP2 #46 Oreca Thiriet, Badey, Gommendy 113 + 12 Laps
13 LMP2 #26 Ligier Rusinov, Canal, Bird 113 + 2m10.270s
14 LMP2 #48 Oreca Chandhok, Patterson, Berthon 113 + 4m15.533s
15 LMP2 #43 Morgan Ragues, Webb, Amberg 113 + 4m19.221s
16 LMP2 #28 Ligier Yacaman, Derani, Gonzalez 112 + 13 Laps
17 LMP2 #42 Dome Leventis, Watts, Kane 111 + 14 Laps
18 LMP2 #34 Ligier Cumming, Vanthoor, Estre 111 + 2m03.174s
19 LMP2 #38 Gibson Dolan, Evans, Turvey 111 + 2m15.420s
20 LMP2 #36 Alpine Panciatici, Chatin, Capillaire 110 + 15 Laps
21 LMP1 #22 Nissan Tincknell, Krumm, Buncombe 110 + 12m15.309s
22 LMP2 #27 BR Mediani, Markozov, Minassian 110 + 17m31.358s
23 LMP2 #45 Oreca Ibanez, Perret, Bellarosa 108 + 17 Laps
24 GTE Pro #64 Chevrolet Gavin, Milner, Taylor 108 + 1m55.503s
25 GTE Pro #97 Aston Turner, Mucke, Bell 108 + 1m56.479s
26 GTE Pro #99 Aston Rees, Macdowall, Stanaway 108 + 2m02.699s
27 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Lietz, Christensen, Bergmeister 107 + 18 Laps
28 LMP2 #31 Ligier Brown, Van Overbeek, Fogarty 107 + 3m06.537s
29 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Lamy, Lauda 107 + 7m17.243s
30 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella 107 + 7m17.961s
31 LMP2 #35 Ligier Nicolet, Merlin, Maris 107 + 7m22.502s
32 GTE Am #83 Ferrari Perrodo, Collard, Aguas 106 + 19 Laps
33 GTE Am #72 Ferrari Shaytar, Bertolini, Basov 106 + 7.719s
34 GTE Am #77 Porsche Dempsey, Long, Seefried 106 + 4m28.655s
35 LMP2 #29 Morgan Roussel, Tung, Cheng 105 + 20 Laps
36 GTE Am #62 Ferrari Sweedler, Bell, Segal 105 + 5m34.983s
37 GTE Am #53 Dodge Bleekemolen, Keating, Miller 104 + 21 Laps
38 GTE Am #55 Ferrari Cameron, Griffin, Mortimer 104 + 0.703s
39 GTE Am #66 Ferrari Al Faisal, Giermaziak, Avenatti 104 + 2m09.303s
40 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Calado, Beretta 104 + 4m15.699s
41 GTE Pro #95 Aston Sorensen, Thiim, Nygaard 103 + 22 Laps
42 GTE Am #68 Porsche Chen, Vannelet, Parisy 103 + 4m24.780s
43 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Mann, Giammaria, Cressoni 102 + 23 Laps
44 LMP2 #40 Ligier Krohn, Jonsson, Barbosa 100 + 25 Laps
45 GTE Am #67 Porsche Chen, Kapadia, Maassen 100 + 37m00.455s
46 LMP1 #23 Nissan Pla, Mardenborough, Chilton 100 + 41m20.308s
47 LMP1 #21 Nissan Matsuda, Shulzhitskiy, Ordonez 96 + 29 Laps
48 GTE Am #50 Chevrolet Roda, Ruberti, Poulsen 94 + 31 Laps
49 LMP2 #30 Ligier Sharp, Dalziel, Heinemeier Hansson 93 + 32 Laps
50 LMP2 #37 BR Aleshin, Ladygin, Ladygin 91 + 34 Laps
51 LMP1 #4 CLM Trummer, Kaffer, Monteiro 75 + 50 Laps
52 LMP2 #41 Gibson Hirsch, Paletou, Lancaster 71 + 54 Laps
53 GTE Am #96 Aston Goethe, Hall, Castellacci 69 + 56 Laps
54 GTE Am #88 Porsche Ried, Al Qubaisi, Bachler 44 Retired
55 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Pilet, Makowiecki, Henzler 14 Retired


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