LM24 H9: Audi's Kristensen on verge of putting Toyotas one lap down

Audi ace Tom Kristensen increased his lead in the ninth hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours and is now on the verge of putting the chasing Toyotas a lap down

LM24 H9: Audi's Kristensen on verge of putting Toyotas one lap down

Kristensen's metronomic progress has brought his #2 R18 e-tron quattro more than three minutes clear of the #8 and #7 Toyotas of Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima.

The safety car was deployed right at the end of the hour after Tracy Krohn crashed in the Porsche curves, but failed to significantly affect the gap between the first three.

Lucas di Grassi holds fourth, the Brazilian having climbed into the #3 Audi after it had several body panels changed with Marc Gene at the wheel.

Fifth is Andrea Belicchi in the best of the Rebellion Lola-Toyotas, while the formerly-leading Audi, now driven by Marcel Fassler, continues to make up ground and climbed from 21st to 16th.

Bertrand Baguette pitted from the lead of the LMP2 class as the hour came to an end, but the Belgian's #35 OAK Morgan-Nissan was held at the end of the pitlane under red lights for over 30s after Ricardo Gonzalez climbed in.

Olivier Pla (OAK), Jann Mardenborough (Greaves Zytek) and Oliver Turvey (Jota Zytek) were all within a lap as Nissan-engined cars held the top seven positions in the class.

Level 5's slim hopes of a class podium continued to fade as its HPD caught fire for a second time in the pits - this time with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel. The car is now 12th in LMP2.

The GTE Pro-leading #99 Aston Martin was given breathing space when Richard Lietz spun his factory Porsche - ironically at the Porsche curves.

Lietz dropped to third, behind the #99 Aston of Darren Turner, before handing over to co-driver Marc Lieb. Turner is 17s behind team-mate Rob Bell.

The best of the Ferraris, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni, is fifth, while Tommy Milner is leading the charge for the factory Corvette squad one place further back in the #74 machine.

Paolo Ruberti ceded the lead of GTE Am to Pat Long, but got it back when the American made his ninth stop of the race late in the hour to hand the reins of the #77 Porsche over to his Dempsey Del Piero team co-owner Patrick Dempsey.

Ruberti, driving the #88 Proton 911 GT3 RSR, leads Dempsey by an ever-increasing margin, now 1m13s.

POSITIONS AFTER NINE  HOURS

Pos Cl      Car       Drivers                         Laps  Gap
 1. P1  #2  Audi      Kristensen/McNish/Duval         134   
 2. P1  #8  Toyota    Davidson/Sarrazin/Buemi         133   +     1 Lap
 3. P1  #7  Toyota    Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima          133   +    2.720s
 4. P1  #3  Audi      Gene/Jarvis/di Grassi           132   +    2 Laps
 5. P1  #13 Lola      Beche/Belicchi/Cheng            131   +    3 Laps
 6. P1  #12 Lola      Prost/Jani/Heidfeld             128   +    6 Laps
 7. P1  #21 HPD       Leventis/Kane/Watts             128   + 1m51.256s
 8. P2  #35 Morgan    Baguette/Plowman/Gonzalez       127   +    7 Laps
 9. P2  #24 Morgan    Pla/Brundle/H Hansson           126   +    8 Laps
10. P2  #42 Zytek     Krumm/Mardenborough/Ordonez     126   + 1m07.933s
11. P2  #38 Zytek     Dolan/Turvey/Luhr               125   +    9 Laps
12. P2  #26 Oreca     Rusinov/Martin/Conway           125   + 3m00.124s
13. P2  #46 Oreca     Thiriet/Badey/Martin            125   + 3m01.220s
14. P2  #49 Oreca     P-Companc/Kaffer/Minassian      125   + 4m08.025s
15. P2  #43 Morgan    Gachnang/Mailleux/Lombard       124   +   10 Laps
16. P1  #1  Audi      Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler       123   +   11 Laps
17. P2  #32 Lotus     Holzer/Kraihamer/Charouz        122   +   12 Laps
18. P2  #34 Oreca     Frey/Niederhauser/Bleekemolen   122   +    9.324s
19. P2  #47 Morgan    Imperatori/Howson/Tung          122   +   11.657s
20. GTP #99 Aston     Makowiecki/Senna/Bell           122   +   34.501s
21. GTP #97 Aston     Mucke/Turner/Dumbreck           121   +   13 Laps
22. GTP #92 Porsche   Lieb/Richard Lietz/Dumas        121   +   26.306s
23. P2  #33 HPD       Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe       121   + 1m10.404s
24. GTP #91 Porsche   Bergmeister/Pilet/Bernhard      121   + 1m47.759s
25. P2  #30 Lola      Mowlem/Burgess/Hirschi          120   +   14 Laps
26. P2  #48 Oreca     Hartley/Chandhok/Patterson      120   + 2m28.220s
27. GTP #51 Ferrari   Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli      120   + 2m53.445s
28. GTP #74 Corvette  Gavin/Milner/Westbrook          120   + 3m04.785s
29. GTP #71 Ferrari   Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander      119   +   15 Laps
30. GTP #98 Aston     Dalla Lana/Lamy/Auberlen        119   +   18.929s
31. GTP #73 Corvette  Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor         119   + 3m10.995s
32. P2  #45 Morgan    Nicolet/Merlin/Mondolot         119   + 3m33.241s
33. GTA #88 Porsche   Ried/Roda/Ruberti               118   +   16 Laps
34. GTA #77 Porsche   Dempsey/Foster/Long             118   + 1m42.094s
35. GTA #55 Ferrari   Perazzini/O'Young/Case          118   + 1m50.444s
36. GTA #76 Porsche   Narac/Vernay/Bourret            117   +   17 Laps
37. GTP #93 SRT       Wittmer/Kendall/Bomarito        117   +   58.135s
38. GTA #61 Ferrari   Gerber/Griffin/Cioci            117   + 2m41.964s
39. P2  #36 Alpine    Ragues/Panciatici/Gommendy      117   + 2m49.777s
40. P2  #41 Zytek     Rossi/K-Smith/Lux               117   + 3m04.984s
41. P2  #40 Oreca     Dagoneau/Downs/Younessi         116   +   18 Laps
42. GTA #75 Porsche   Collard/Perrodo/Crubile         116   + 1m32.613s
43. GTA #50 Corvette  Bornhauser/Canal/Taylor         116   + 1m43.865s
44. GTP #53 SRT       Farnbacher/Goossens/Dalziel     115   +   19 Laps
45. GTA #96 Aston     Goethe/Campbell-Walter/Hall     115   + 1m51.997s
46. GTA #67 Porsche   Gibon/Milesi/Henzler            115   + 1m59.623s
47. GTP #66 Ferrari   Bertolini/Faisal/Qubaisi        115   + 2m04.103s
48. P2  #39 Lola      Porta/Brandela/Raffin           113   +   21 Laps
49. GTA #70 Corvette  MacNeil/Rodrigues/Dumas         112   +   22 Laps
50. GTA #57 Ferrari   Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani           111   +   23 Laps
51. GTA #54 Ferrari   Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank        110   +   24 Laps
52. GTA #81 Ferrari   Potolicchio/Aguas/Bright        107   +   27 Laps
53. P2  #25 Oreca     Graves/Hamilton/Nakano          101   +   33 Laps
54. P2  #28 Lola      Giroix/Haezebrouck/Ihara        21    +  113 Laps
55. P2  #31 Lotus     Weeda/Rossiter/Bouchut          17        Retired
56. GTA #95 Aston     Simonsen/Nygaard/Poulsen        2         Retired
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