LM24 H18: Audi still ahead amid safety-car running

Audi's Tom Kristensen stretched his lead of the Le Mans 24 Hours to nearly two laps during the 18th hour as two safety-car periods caused a significant delay to the second-placed Toyota of Stephane Sarrazin

LM24 H18: Audi still ahead amid safety-car running

Kristensen was a lap clear and pulling away when Bill Auberlen's #98 GTE Pro Aston Martin stopped by the side of the track, a mechanical problem causing the Vantage GTE to drop a lot of oil at the Esses.

Sarrazin made his 22nd pitstop of the race under the resultant caution, but spent a total of three minutes in the pits after being forced to queue up before exiting while a train of cars waited for the safety car to come past at slow speed.

The Frenchman is a lap ahead of Alex Wurz in the sister #7 machine; the Austrian's advantage over the chasing Lucas di Grassi being increased after the Audi driver pitted.

Andrea Belicchi caused the second safety car after he crashed the #13 Rebellion Lola-Toyota exiting the second Mulsanne chicane less than half a lap after racing had resumed.

His car was being worked on in the pits as the hour ticked over, meaning Belicchi has lost fifth place to Marcel Fassler's recovering #1 Audi.

To round off a thoroughly miserable hour for the Rebellion squad, the #12 car dropped from seventh to 12th after Neel Jani's machine needed repairs to an oil leak and a slipping clutch.

The first safety car was of benefit to Aston Martin as Bruno Senna, who had fallen 30s behind Richard Lietz's Porsche during the pitstop cycle, was able to close onto the tail of the #92 Manthey-run machine.

Senna, who has made two more pitstops than Lietz, then found himself leading when his rival spun at the Dunlop chicane just after the safety car had pulled in.

Lietz's spin briefly delayed the #97 Aston of Peter Dumbreck, meaning that the #91 Porsche of Timo Bernhard was able to assume second, ahead of the Scot. Lietz has since pitted to hand over to Marc Lieb.

GTE Am continues to be led by Christophe Bourret's #76 Imsa Porsche while the battle for victory in LMP2 will continue between the OAK Morgan-Nissans of leader Ricardo Gonzalez and second-placed David Heinemeier Hansson once the safety car pulls in.

POSITIONS AFTER 18 HOURS Pos Cl Car Drivers Laps Gap 1. P1 #2 Audi Kristensen/McNish/Duval 263 2. P1 #8 Toyota Davidson/Sarrazin/Buemi 261 + 1 Lap 3. P1 #7 Toyota Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima 261 + 2m41.404s 4. P1 #3 Audi Gene/Jarvis/di Grassi 260 + 3 Laps 5. P1 #13 Lola Beche/Belicchi/Cheng 252 + 11 Laps 6. P1 #1 Audi Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler 252 + 16m44.836s 7. P1 #21 HPD Leventis/Kane/Watts 251 + 12 Laps 8. P2 #35 Morgan Baguette/Plowman/Gonzalez 247 + 16 Laps 9. P2 #24 Morgan Pla/Brundle/H Hansson 247 + 4m41.164s 10. P2 #42 Zytek Krumm/Mardenborough/Ordonez 246 + 17 Laps 11. P2 #26 Oreca Rusinov/Martin/Conway 246 + 2m47.992s 12. P1 #12 Lola Prost/Jani/Heidfeld 245 + 18 Laps 13. P2 #49 Oreca P-Companc/Kaffer/Minassian 245 + 48m51.443s 14. P2 #46 Oreca Thiriet/Badey/Martin 243 + 20 Laps 15. P2 #43 Morgan Gachnang/Mailleux/Lombard 241 + 22 Laps 16. P2 #38 Zytek Dolan/Turvey/Luhr 240 + 23 Laps 17. P2 #48 Oreca Hartley/Chandhok/Patterson 239 + 24 Laps 18. P2 #33 HPD Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe 238 + 25 Laps 19. GTP #99 Aston Makowiecki/Senna/Bell 237 + 26 Laps 20. P2 #47 Morgan Imperatori/Howson/Tung 237 + 3.197s 21. GTP #91 Porsche Bergmeister/Pilet/Bernhard 237 + 2m32.722s 22. GTP #97 Aston Mucke/Turner/Dumbreck 237 + 2m44.332s 23. GTP #92 Porsche Lieb/Richard Lietz/Dumas 237 + 2m44.760s 24. P2 #36 Alpine Ragues/Panciatici/Gommendy 236 + 27 Laps 25. P2 #34 Oreca Frey/Niederhauser/Bleekemolen 236 + 4m57.754s 26. GTP #51 Ferrari Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli 235 + 28 Laps 27. GTP #71 Ferrari Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander 235 + 4m49.944s 28. GTP #74 Corvette Gavin/Milner/Westbrook 234 + 29 Laps 29. GTP #73 Corvette Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor 233 + 30 Laps 30. GTA #76 Porsche Narac/Vernay/Bourret 230 + 33 Laps 31. GTA #55 Ferrari Perazzini/O'Young/Case 230 + 4m56.604s 32. GTP #53 SRT Farnbacher/Goossens/Dalziel 229 + 34 Laps 33. GTA #77 Porsche Dempsey/Foster/Long 229 + 2m42.478s 34. P2 #41 Zytek Rossi/K-Smith/Lux 228 + 35 Laps 35. GTA #61 Ferrari Gerber/Griffin/Cioci 228 + 9.105s 36. GTA #50 Corvette Bornhauser/Canal/Taylor 227 + 36 Laps 37. GTA #67 Porsche Gibon/Milesi/Henzler 226 + 37 Laps 38. GTP #93 SRT Wittmer/Kendall/Bomarito 226 + 2m10.141s 39. P2 #40 Oreca Dagoneau/Downs/Younessi 226 + 2m18.443s 40. GTA #96 Aston Goethe/Campbell-Walter/Hall 226 + 2m29.794s 41. GTP #66 Ferrari Bertolini/Faisal/Qubaisi 225 + 38 Laps 42. GTA #75 Porsche Collard/Perrodo/Crubile 224 + 39 Laps 43. GTA #88 Porsche Ried/Roda/Ruberti 223 + 40 Laps 44. GTP #98 Aston Dalla Lana/Lamy/Auberlen 221 + 42 Laps 45. GTA #81 Ferrari Potolicchio/Aguas/Bright 219 + 44 Laps 46. P2 #45 Morgan Nicolet/Merlin/Mondolot 214 + 49 Laps 47. P2 #39 Lola Porta/Brandela/Raffin 206 + 57 Laps 48. GTA #70 Corvette MacNeil/Rodrigues/Dumas 193 + 70 Laps 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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