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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LM24 H8: Kristensen leads under caution as night descends
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LM24 H10: Kristensen takes command, puts Toyota one lap down

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