72nd Le Mans 24 Hours - Pre-Race & Early Race

As the cars head out for the penultimate lap before the start, with the temperatures just about right and some scattered high cloud, we can report the following:

The Champion Audi, quickest this morning in the warm up, is now pleasing JJ and co. Whatever set-up issues existed in qualifying were resolved by 23.30 on Thursday, and the car is now judged to be ready to race, and sixth on the grid is no handicap.

The Lister 'kept' the development engine, the V8 having run so well on Thursday it was deemed ready to start the race.

The RML Lola had slight starternator problems this morning, 'natoring' OK, but not 'startering' very well.

Three of the 48 cars did not join the grid lineup:

The NASAMAX was simply recovered too late from the circuit after its fuel consumption test and was not allowed out of the pitlane to join the lineup. John McNeill though is confident that the car is looking good for the race itself. The initial strategy is likely to be conservative, with shorter stints than the maximum the car is able to achieve. Expect to see this car making an early routine stop.

dailysportscar.comThe #10 Lola Caterpillar has had its clutch repaired and is ready to make the start. Ian Dawson is smiling through the difficulties of the week: “We know the next step we have to take to move onwards, the car's traction is putting different stresses on some components than a conventional drivetrain.” Congratulations for getting this car here Taurus.

The engine change on the #61 Barron Conn0r Ferrari 575 has been successfully achieved and the car is sitting in the pit lane ready to take to the track.

So it's 48 to start the 72nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours. A big thanks to all of the teams that are carrying vinyls from dailysportscar a Le Mans record for dsc or its predecessors – 14 cars will be flying the dsc flag.

Thanks to:
Rollcentre Racing (#6)
Team NASAMAX (#14)
Zytek Engineering (#22)
Racing For Holland (#15)
Taurus Sports (#4 and #10)
Intersport (#27 and #32) PK Sport (#78)
The Racers Group (#81)
BAM! (#87)
Chamberlain Synergy Racing (#89 and #96)
Morgan Works (#80)
.

Here's Short Junior enjoying his second Le Mans, with Mum and Dad.

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The JMB Ferrari has been pushed off the grid, and Pippa at Dunlop passes on the information that the track temperature is a modest 28 degrees, the air temperature a pleasant 25. We're ready to go.

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Davies & McNish brave it out into Dunlop, but the man from Yeovil holds off the ex-F1 Scot, and hangs on to the lead to bring them across the line in the lead after lap 1.

Andy Wallace slips from third to sixth by the end of the lap, losing out on every straight to the bigger cars - and it's all four Audis filling the top spots by the first Mulsanne Chicane on lap 1, Lehto passing Cappello at the second chicane.

The Nasamax is up to eleventh at the end of the first lap, ahead of RML, 18 Pescarolo and Gounon.

JMB's 360 starts well over a lap down after its pre-race drama, and goes two laps down on Davies on lap 3.

The four Audis look remarkably well matched, lapping in 36s and 37s, two seconds quicker than Lammers in fifth.

The 96 TVR pits after two laps, going very slowly. Greensall is pushed up the pit lane.

Kox is leading GTS, three-tenths ahead of Turner. The top five GTS cars are all together, running nose to tail - two 550s, two C5-Rs, one 550. Maassen and Lieb lead GT, a three second gap between them. Caffi is third for Seikel.

The 15 Lammers Dome has stopped (?) on Mulsanne, on lap 4. It might be rolling again. Yes it is, 24th place, behind the GTS leaders. Dunlop tells us that it was a throttle sensor problem.

After 4 laps:
Davies
McNish -2.4
Lehto -5.2
Capello -8.4
Bourdais -22.0
Wallace -24.8. Katoh then passes Wallace.

If the top LMP1s are neatly spaced, GTS is a war, Gavin threatening Turner as the five cars thunder round together.

Hugh Chamberlain: "The engine (of the 96 TVR) cut completely, then mended itself, then cut out again. It's fired once and then cut out again." Thanks Radio Le Mans.

Tim Sugden is third in GT. JMB's delayed 360 is ten seconds off lead-GT (Maassen) pace, lapping in 4:19.

23 minutes: Morgan and RML Lola both pit.

Lap 8, Capello has stopped at Dunlop, in the gravel - but has carried on. He's in 24th place.

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Bourdais is now fourth, from Katoh, Coronel, Wallace and Barbosa. The Advan Dome and Ayari's slower Pescarolo stop after 8 laps, along with several other cars, Nasamax included.

Lehto is all over McNish starting lap 10, these two six seconds behind Davies. JJ clearly wants to find some clear track to compete with the race-leading 88 Audi. Bourdais in fourth is 56 seconds behind Davies.

Davies pits after 10 laps, fuel only. He hares out of the pits, on the same rubber. Zytek and Rollcentre pit together, Barbosa gets out first.

11 laps, McNish and JJ pit together, before that point Gounon was fourth overall, but also pitted. Davies leads again, then McNish (-14) and Lehto (-18 - gaps after 12 laps).

GTS cars begin to pit (63) after 11 laps, Prodrive waits until 12 laps, joined by Gavin. Gavin gets out ahead of both 550s - and Fellows passed by before they got out too, and leads. Capello pits after 11 laps and goes a lap down after a slow visit, the car reluctant to fire (ECU changed). Two dramas for this Audi already.

Fellows hits the tyre wall at Arnage, and pits with front end damage. Gavin leads GTS. Sugden has a puncture and endures an eight minute lap to bring the Perspective Porsche back to the pits. There's debris within the body of the tyre - bad luck Tim Sugden.

There's a great battle developing in LMP1from fourth through to 8th. Just six seconds separates this group albeit that they are over a minute behind the third placed Audi. Soheil Ayari is closing on Tom Coronel, Ayari is being tracked closely by Barbosa and Wallace in the Zytek is just a few tenths behind the Dallara.

Ayari takes the 18 Pescarolo by the 16 Dome and now its Barbosa's turn to challenge the RfH car. Bourdais passes Wallace and Barbosa (just after the hour)

Martyn Pass tells dsc that Jamie Davies is reporting that something is touching his ankle in the footwell of the leading 88 Audi. A longer stop may be needed next time around to deal with what may be a loose component from the on-board camera.

Positions At 1 Hour (and best laps) - 16 laps
88 (3:36.1)
8 -23 (3:37.1)
2 -28 (3:37.1)
18 -1min 41 (3:41.9)
16 -1min 44 (3:31.9)
6 -1min 45 (3:41.3)
22 -1min 46 (3:40.5)
17 -1min 46 (3:41.4)
9 -2min 03 (3:41.1)
15 -2min 44 (3:39.3)
31 -3min 20 (3:47.9)
20 -3min 25 (3:47.7)
5 -1 lap (3:36.9)

GTS
64
66 -8 secs
65 -11 secs

GT
87, 90, 84.

So the rest are having a great scrap for fourth to eighth, but the three untroubled Audis (and the Goh car) have a clear advantage on race pace. Lammers is currently lapping as quickly as anyone, and catching Katoh and the Ayarai to Wallace group. That becomes Coronel to Wallace as the Dutchman goes fourth, 100 secs behind Davies after 20 laps.

Paul Slinger’s Pit Lane Update
The Morgan is running a new engine today and after warm-up Mader asked Morgan to bring it in after three race laps to download some data, which they duly did.

The Greensall TVR that limped home initially puzzled Hugh Chamberlain but a new ECU seems to have fixed the problem and the car is starting to put some good times in now.

Nasamax also stopped early to download data after Werner Lupberger suspected a misfire. The team changed tyres whilst it was hooked up to the laptop but bad luck saw them pick up a puncture on the outlap. A third unscheduled stop followed due to the misfire, to download more data, check the plugs and change the coils. The car is not lapping too far off its natural pace and the team do not think it is causing any damage to the engine, but once the fault is diagnosed expect the Nasamax back in the pits.

 

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