Le Mans 24 Hours seventh hour: Audi tightens grip as Toyota clashes with DeltaWing

Audi's grip on the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours tightened as the sole remaining Toyota TS030 hit trouble at the race's restart just after the six-hour mark

Le Mans 24 Hours seventh hour: Audi tightens grip as Toyota clashes with DeltaWing

The green flags flew almost exactly an hour after Anthony Davidson's massive crash brought out the safety car for the first time, but it took barely 30 seconds before Toyota hit further trouble.

Marcel Fassler's lead #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro got bottled up as it tried to navigate its way past the sister #4 R18 ultra of Oliver Jarvis and through a group of post-safety car traffic.

Nakajima in the #07 TS030 was perched right on the tail of the two Audis, and in the initial melee jinked to the right going into the Porsche curves - right into the path of compatriot Satoshi Motoyama in the DeltaWing.

The DeltaWing was sent crashing into the wall in the process, while the Toyota pitted initially for a new rear section. One lap later Nakajima returned to the pits however, the car being pushed into the garage and up onto the jacks as the Toyota crew fought to assess the full damage from the clash.

The team's woes were a boon to Audi, which was able to occupy the top three positions as a result.

Fassler still leads in the #1 R18, ahead of Rinaldo Capello in the sister #2 e-tron quattro and the #4 ultra currently driven by Oliver Jarvis.

Brendon Hartley moved into the lead of the LMP2 class at the wheel of the #48 Murphy ORECA-Nissan, 15s ahead of Jacques Nicolet in the #24 OAK Morgan-Judd which had led the class for much of the race.

Hartley had lain fourth just after the restart, but fought his way past those in front as the pitstops cycled through.

The top five LMP2 runners are now all on the same lap, with only Vicente Potolicchio's #44 Starworks HPD having completed more than eight stops.

Oliver Gavin managed to edge away from Toni Vilander as Corvette and Ferrari resumed the fight for GTE Pro honours.

Vilander had closed to within four seconds of the lead #74 Corvette, but dropped back when he completed the #51 AF Corse Ferrari's sixth stop.

Only Marc Lieb in the #77 Porsche has been able to stay on the same lap as the lead pair, with the #97 Aston Martin Vantage - previously in the scrap for the front - dropping to sixth after pitting immediately before and after the safety car period.

Pedro Lamy's #50 Corvette meanwhile leads Nicolas Armindo's #67 Porsche in the fight for GTE Am honours.

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 7 HOURS Pos Car Drivers Class Laps Gap 1. #1 Audi Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer LMP1 102 2. #2 Audi McNish/Capello/Kristensen LMP1 102 + 1m08.536s 3. #4 Audi Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller LMP1 101 + 1 Lap 4. #12 Lola Prost/Heidfeld/Jani LMP1 100 + 2 Laps 5. #13 Lola Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat LMP1 99 + 3 Laps 6. #22 HPD Brabham/Dumbreck/Chandhok LMP1 99 + 29.204s 7. #7 Toyota Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima LMP1 98 + 4 Laps 8. #24 Morgan Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla LMP2 97 + 5 Laps 9. #35 Morgan H Hansson/Leinders/Martin LMP2 97 + 5.614s 10. #48 Oreca Firth/Hartley/Hughes LMP2 97 + 57.536s 11. #44 HPD Potolicchio/Dalziel/K-Smith LMP2 96 + 6 Laps 12. #26 Oreca Ragues/Panciatici/Rusinov LMP2 96 + 1m08.268s 13. #25 Oreca Martin/Charouz/Graves LMP2 96 + 1m09.700s 14. #49 Oreca Perez Companc/Kaffer/Ayari LMP2 96 + 2m38.251s 15. #23 Oreca Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard LMP2 96 + 3m03.387s 16. #3 Audi Gene/Dumas/Duval LMP1 95 + 7 Laps 17. #33 HPD Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz LMP2 95 + 32.887s 18. #45 Oreca Briere/Nakano/Petersen LMP2 95 + 38.871s 19. #30 Lola Sims/Buurman/Iannetta LMP2 95 + 1m07.720s 20. #15 OAK Montagny/Kraihamer/Baguette LMP1 95 + 1m11.207s 21. #38 Zytek Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa LMP2 95 + 1m16.071s 22. #46 Oreca Thiriet/Beche/Tinseau LMP2 95 + 2m14.295s 23. #21 HPD Leventis/Kane/Watts LMP1 94 + 8 Laps 24. #41 Zytek Zugel/Julian/Gonzalez LMP2 94 + 1m43.185s 25. #42 Zytek Brundle/Brundle/Ordonez LMP2 93 + 9 Laps 26. #40 Oreca Frey/Hirschi/Meichtry LMP2 93 + 18.023s 27. #31 Lola Holzer/Schultis/Moro LMP2 92 + 10 Laps 28. #74 Corvette Gavin/Westbrook/Milner GTEP 92 + 6.367s 29. #51 Ferrari Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander GTEP 92 + 10.970s 30. #77 Porsche Lietz/Lieb/Henzler GTEP 91 + 11 Laps 31. #59 Ferrari Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher GTEP 91 + 25.055s 32. #73 Corvette Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor GTEP 91 + 26.977s 33. #97 Aston Mucke/Fernandez/Turner GTEP 91 + 2m40.404s 34. #50 Corvette Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy GTEA 90 + 12 Laps 35. #61 Ferrari Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers GTEA 89 + 13 Laps 36. #67 Porsche Pons/Armindo/Narac GTEA 89 + 17.421s 37. #88 Porsche Ried/Roda/Ruberti GTEA 89 + 40.647s 38. #66 Ferrari Walker/Cocker/Wills GTEP 89 + 56.906s 39. #57 Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo GTEA 89 + 1m56.914s 40. #43 Norma Rosier/Haezebrouck/Thirion LMP2 89 + 3m28.797s 41. #71 Ferrari Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci GTEP 88 + 14 Laps 42. #83 Ferrari Rodrigues/Illiano/Ferte GTEA 88 + 1m39.723s 43. #70 Corvette Bourret/Gibon/Belloc GTEA 87 + 15 Laps 44. #55 Porsche Daniels/Palttala/Camathias GTEA 87 + 42.052s 45. #58 Ferrari Ehret/Jeannette/Montecalvo GTEA 85 + 17 Laps 46. #80 Porsche Bergmeister/Long/Holzer GTEP 83 + 19 Laps 47. #75 Porsche al Faisal/Curtis/Edwards GTEA 82 + 20 Laps 48. #17 Dome Minassian/Bourdais/Ara LMP1 78 + 24 Laps 49. #0 DeltaWing Franchitti/Krumm/Motoyama CDNT 75 + 27 Laps 50. #28 Lola Giroix/Badey/Johansson LMP2 75 +32m40.624s 51. #79 Porsche Neiman/Pumpelly/Pilet GTEA 74 + 28 Laps 52. #99 Aston Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen GTEA 31 + 71 Laps 53. #8 Toyota Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin LMP1 82 + 20 Laps 54. #81 Ferrari Perazzini/Cadei/Griffin GTEA 70 + 32 Laps 55. #16 Pescarolo Collard/Bouillon/Hall LMP1 20 + 82 Laps 56. #29 Lola Ihara/Deletraz/Rostan LMP2 17 + 85 Laps 
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