Le Mans 24 Hours
Hours 22 - 24
Post Safety Car, Papis
caught Gregoire in the #13 Courage and powered past on the exit
of Tertre Rouge, heading down the Mulsanne.
John Bosch pitted and
handed over to Lammers, and at 13.30, the Dutchman is 3 mins. 02
secs. behind Gregoire - the latter also having just pitted. With
Papis taking over under the SC, the schedules for all three ae not
Further down the list,
Felipe Ortiz is catching Didier Andre in the 675 leading Reynard
- for 14th.
GTS is Enge - 17 laps
- Collins - 1 second - Fellows.
13:40 and the
gap Gregoire-Lammers is now 2 mins 42 secs.
Stefan Johanssen meanwhile
is seeing whether exerting a little pressure on the Bentley ahead
of him has any effect - He posts two consecutive laps in the 3:39s,
both of which better the previous best mark for his #6 Audi. The
only discernible effect is a mild upping of the pace from Herbert
to keep a respectful distance between VAGs premium branded sports
prototype and that of their more everyday marque.
Two hours to go and Lammers
is still on it - just over two minutes now the gap to Gregoire.
Papis has turned up the wick now too, aware perhaps that a fifth
place that would match Panoz's best ever finish here is under threat.
There is another battle
in the offing now - third place in GT is up for grabs, with the
Taisan Porsche having inherited the place from the Perspective Porsche.
The #13 Courage pits,
Gregoire out and Gounon in. The gap to Papis grows to over two minutes
whilst the deficit for Lammers to attack is now just 80 seconds
at 14:15. Papis hands to Jeannette. This could all come down to
timing of pit stops.
Bentley #8 has stopped
for Herbert to hand over to David Brabham.
The first flying laps
in the newly joined Lammers / Gounon match-up see the gap fall by
five seconds. Lammers will definitely - RfH tells us - stay in the
#15 to the end.
One of the other Courages
has been hit by a flash fire in the pits. Not sure if it will continue
- it looks as though it will. The Corvettes continue running in
formation. It will be a long 90 minutes for the team.
The issue is heat. Dindo
Capello is sitting in the garage area with a wet towel over his
Can we start rounding
up this historic event? Historic? Yes, of course it is....with Bentley
about to take a 1 - 2. And Audi a 3 - 4. It's been a merciless demonstration
of...well, Bentley might / badge engineering. Rather too reminiscent
of the last three years for some, but proof that if a company with
these skills and resources available to it chooses to do something,
Panoz, Courage and Lammers
- each deserves to finish fifth, and Engine Developments has two
chances to take the best non-manufacturer engine prize. All four
Judds that started look as though they will finish.
14.42: Champion are rocking
their R8, and perhaps adding a slave battery to check that their
car will fire up.
14.44, Lammers is 1m53
behind Jeannette, 1m03 behind Gounon, but laps five and a half seconds
faster than either Gounon or Jeannette. Interesting.
GTS is a Veloqx-Prodrive
affair. "You'll have to be good to beat us," said Corvette
Racing. And the Veloqx Prodrive combination was.
Lammers is lapping in
3:41s - this is great racing. It's lifting the whole event, we feel.
Erdos in the
GNM Saleen stops beside the track: this could be very harsh.
GT. David Shep
couldn't believe the fact that the Seikel Porsche was second in
class last night - and then he couldn't believe the fact that the
engine failed soon afterwards. GT was a war of attrition, and the
toughest guys came through in the end. Well done Alex Job Racing
/ Petersen Motorsport, and all the many associated sponsors. But
did Porsche themselves precipitate the apparent unreliability in
some way, by granting each team a revised flat-six, on Friday? Lighter,
Is the 911 GT3-RS
the second best endurance racer, we asked Alex Job on Thursday morning.
"It's a dead heat - the Audi has been incredibly reliable,
but to take a road car and put it through the stresses we put them
at 14.50, then Lammers straight afterwards...can they make it to
4 pm, with the slower pace that normally occurs at the end? But
how can they go slowly, when they're racing? What about the safety
of the marshals who narrow the track so drastically?
It's going to
be an unusual last hour, we hope.
pits for definitely (?) the last time at 15.08, a quick refuel and
check under the hood and he's away.
550 pits, and is pushed into the garage - what for, a good clean?
No, a thorough check over.
Not a quick
enough check at Panoz....Gounon passes pit exit as Jeannette appears,
and the Frenchman leads Gunnar by fractions next time through. Jeannette
looks hard into the First Chicane, and passes at the second.
a monster spin and crash at Indainapolis...and continues!! At least
to the pits, where he is distraught at what he has done.
Jean-Marc by 0.324 past the finish line at 15.40...this is going
to run and run.....for 40 minutes anyway. Lammers is 43 seconds
behind the scrapping pair.
35 mins to go
and GJ and J-MG are nose to tail. Lammers may not be catching quickly
enough - or he might (35 secs now). Gounon sets #13's best lap of
tells us that Shimoda isn't the youngest ever finisher - Gunnar
Jeannette is! Gounon locks up into the Esses.....Jeannette uses
a Porsche to buy some breathing space. Gounon - big slide at the
second Mulsanne Chicane.
25 mins to go:
a second between them at Indianapolis, Lammers 28 secs behind. Do
Gounon and Lammers have enough fuel?
He pits at 15.40. The Panoz was the last to stop of the three.
Lammers is 23
seconds behind the Panoz, Gounon another 20 seconds back. Can Lammers
make it home on his fuel, and catch - and pass - Jeannette?
The Panoz pits
- and the Dome. Jeannette appears in the lead! It's back to where
we were - Gounon on his tail. Lammers is 23 seconds behind. 16 mins
13 mins as they
cross start-finish. Slow cars ahead. Jeannette uses them to pull
out a few lengths - Gounon better on the brakes. More traffic on
the way to Mulsanne Corner.
Big twitch for
Gounon out of Indianapolis. Lammmers 18 seconds behind.
10 mins left
. 0.464 between them as they cross the line. Gounon 3:45.608 - his
car's best lap of the race. Lammers 3:44.793. Jeannette 3:44.408.
Three laps to go.
up? Five seconds back all of a sudden.
#7 crosses the
line with 3 mins 45 s left. One lap for Guy Smith - to seal four
in a row, five in all, for Tom K. First one for Dindo and Guy.
Gounon! Somewhere. Were Gounon's tyres knackered? Well done Gunnar
Jeannette, beating those two old pros. Well done Panoz - well done
One of the Pescarolo
Courages self-ignites on the start-finish line.
What an end
to a motor race.
PS. The winning
Bentley spent 28 mins and 25 s in the pits. Is that a record? Someone
"It was a great dice at the end. I tried not to overcook it
under braking, into the corners. His car is far better than the
Panoz under brakes and in corners. There were a couple of times
when I looked in my mirrors and saw him locking up and thought...****"
On Gunnar's move to put the Taisan Porsche between them...."I
tried everything. The man is very hard to race against. The race
itself was fantastic and the crew did an awesome job.
always the plan that I would finish. I told them at the beginning
that I would do it. When I realised what it meant, OK a small part
of me was nervous but a big part of me wanted to do it."
"I had no clutch at all at the end. I had to back off. I wanted
to keep it clean. The Panoz gave me a great race."
When these two
got out of their cars, there were big hugs all round - and Jan Lammers
congratulated Gunnar Jeannette too - as did the Champion Audi guys.
"Yup, I'll take a seat off you any time."
Jan Lammers: "Fifth
was our place, and we would have had it without two punctures and
the problem with the battery. I know Jean-Marc well, and he's the
toughest guy to drive against in that situation. He couldn't do
more than 43s or 44s at the end and on a clear lap I'm totally confident
we could have done a 39.The car's handling was fantastic for the
"Well we needed another lap didn't we? I really thought one
or two of the cars in front would have had their own problems. The
tyres on our car hadn't been changed for three hours. What a fantastic
effort from such a small team going head head with factory teams
and factory budgets."
was very upset.....the #16 Dome took a very hard hit...
The top three
in each class aren't necessarily invited onto the podium, which
seems harsh. Bentley - two different spec. cars and different engines?
- comes good third time round. Veloqx-Prodrive deserved their GTS
success, the Reynard too in 675, while GT was eventually a fine
scrap between AJR-Petersen and Orbit. Perspective deserved third,
but perhaps others did too. A memorable event in so many ways.