Le Mans 24 Hours
Hours 16 - 18
Nine hours left, Bentleys
bustling along at the front, Champion still in touch. The top four
were all lapping round about 3:40, so lap speeds won't decide this
had an off in the light blue Luc Alphand 550, and this one is in
the garage towards the end of the 16th hour (driveshaft). It's between
the Enge and Gavin cars for GTS honours, but they're four laps apart
- and the #88 is 16 laps ahead of the delayed (alternator) #53 Corvette.
07:05 – Marc Lieb
hands over the GT leading #87 Orbit Porsche to Leo Hindery. As he
rejoins Lucas Luhr pits to hand over the #chasing #93 car to Sascha
Maassen. The battle enters yet another phase.
07:20 and the irresistible
force of Sascha Maassen overwhelms the resistance of Leo Hindery,
taking the lead back – AGAIN – for AJR and pulling clear
of the Orbit car. AJR / Petersen and Orbit are soon split by a lap,
with the #77 Taisan 911 another lap down, and four ahead of the
steady Perspective car.
The tailenders are the
delayed entries from WR (both), Spyker and NASAMAX.
The DBA is 28
laps behind the #29 Reynard in 675, with Shimoda losing more time
at approx. 08.00 with a viit to the gravel at Mulsanne Corner.
valliant effort comes to a halt at 08.15 with a smouldering engine
bay at the First Mulsanne Chicane. See you in November, old bio-ethanol
perhaps? That joined the green machine in retirement, the big V8
giving up the ghost. We'll remember that qualifying time.
stop for Brabaham in Bentley #8. How can such an amazing design
be so routine?
The #12 Panoz
has had a transmission change and drops into the mid twenties.
of all people spins the #15 Dome into the gravel trap at Indianapolis.
He had two laps on the #11 Panoz, which Gunnar Jeannette immediately
uses to out brake himself at Arnage. Lammers's spin was caused by
a left rear puncture (numero deux).
Audis) don't seem to attract punctures - even though Audis did last
year. Why is that?
The #80 Ferrari
550 crashed out after suffering a wheel bearing failure.
08.50 and Magnussen
sets the #5's fastest lap of the race, a 3:37.335 - also the fastest
Audi lap of the race.
The #72 Ferrari
rejoins after a repair to the driveshaft and almost immediately
locks up and goes straight on at Arnage. Luc Alphand pits again
for both front tyres to be replaced.
09:05 JJ Lehto
in the gravel at the First Chicane.
09:06 The #8 Bentley
comes in for a very unscheduled stop. It seems to be a second replacement
battery for the car - and as before the team weren't expecting it.
Magnussen keeps the pressure
on by chasing Kristensen, until the latter pits.
AJR / Petersen
911 leads Orbit version by a lap.
Six and a half
hours to go....will the Bentleys last? It looks like it. Will the
Reynard make it a hat-trick? Will Ferrari win at Le Mans? The best
battle is between the 911s - and between Gounon in the #13 Courage
and the #11 Panoz..
No. 25 has been chain
smoking all night long. Its habit became much worse this hour.
09.15 and the
#50 Corvette is pulled into its garage - pressure right off the
GTS leader: Veloqx-Prodrive has an eight lap lead and growing. It's
a major transmission bearing failure. It took about 15 minutes to
fix. It is truly now Ferrari’s race to lose. The no. 80’s
hour went well.
The GT contest
has stabilized slightly, with the no. 93 Porsche about two laps
up on the other American based entry. The overall positions may
not yet be set in stone, but the masons have their tools at hand.
A distinct pattern
for much of the race has been that those cars that have run well
all weekend, have continued to run well all weekend. While those
in trouble have continued in trouble. The only major exception was
the demise of the no. 10 Audi. The bad going bad was epitomized
at the end of this hour when David Saelens had a big moment with
the hapless no. 12 Panoz, at Indianapolis.