72nd Le Mans 24 Hours - Hours 2 & 3

The second round of pit stops begin at around 75 minutes, but that's the non Audis in the top ten, not the Audis. Coronel is first in, with Ayari. The Frenchman stays in, Justin Wilson gets into 16, Barff into 6.

The RML Lola is pushed into its garage. The 17 Pescarolo car does the same thing. Both drop way down the field. The French car had an ignition problem.

Davies pits from the lead at 22 laps, so he's completed 12 for this stint, and looks as though the Audis will now do 12 lap stints throughout. Lehto is right behind McNish again.

As we suspected after the warm up, the RML car needs a change of starternator.

Lehto pits after 23 laps (a 12 lap stint, stays in), but McNish sets off to complete a 13th lap.... and makes it. Davies leads from McNish and Lehto.

90 mins, and it's three Audis (McNish and Lehto 25 secs down) from Ayari, Wallace, Katoh and Wilson. Barbosa tells Rollcentre who tell Paul Slinger that the X Markets Dallara has quite severe high speed understeer.

The diesel machine spins at the start of the Porsche Curves and continues, five laps down, but still going.

97 mins. and the Zytek is overdue. Andy Wallace has a front right puncture, David Brabham gets in.

"A piece of carbon cut the tyre," said Andy W. "The trouble was I was at the second hump before Indianapolis. It was a very big moment, very big. I also had to be careful how I slowed it down, because I had the Kondo car right behind me. The car is running too low and we've got lots of oversteer - and the rest are eating us up on the straights."

GT is 90 Petersen, 87 BAM!, 85 Freisinger, 83 Seikel, 77 Choroq, 86 Freisinger, 84 Seikel, 72 Alphand, 81 TRG, 89 TVR, 78 PK, 92 Cirtek, etc.

The 1.2.3 in GTS pit together and again the Team Corvette crewe eke out an advantage on the Prodrive pair.

All three have a driver change, Beretta in the 64 Corvette now leads Enge and Rydell in the 66 and 65 550s.

The 17 Pescarolo Pits again, bcak into the garage just a lap after rejoining the race. Nicolas Minassian reports that it is an electrical or electronic problem

Chuck Dressing on Radio Le Mans reports the extraordinary statistic that the lead Audi is presently bettering the target for the record race distance held since 1971 by the Porsche 917, this despite the chicanes installed along the Mulsanne.

Nigel Greeensall reports that the 96 TVR's ecu worries were caused by a wiring problem which shorted the unit out. Better news for TVR fans is that Michael Caine is taking the other TVR round faster and faster.

Drama as McNish and Lehto both go off in the entrance to the Porsche Curves - Both R8s are well into the tyre wall and Lehto is out of the car, so is McNish, but both climb back aboard - It looks all over for both these cars. McNish and Lehto are exchanging semaphore gestures, McNish in questioning pose and Lehto indicating that there is something on the track.

A Prodrive Ferrari has a sideways moment (spin) at the same point, indication that either the driver has been distracted by the extraordinary sight of two crashed R8s or there is fluid on the surface. It was Enge, who collected some gravel but continued, pitting for fresh rubber- and a clear out of gravel.

17:54 The Pace car is on the circuit.

Lehto is towed backwards out of the gravel, the marshals indicate that he should get out of the car. Lehto, with the front left wheel askew refuses, manages to restart the car whilst gesturing angrily to the marshals and rejoins. As he passes the still stationary 8 car he gestures (somewhat rudely) towards McNish.

McNish too is towed backwards, the cosmetic damage at least being far worse on the 8 car. He too though rejoins the whole front bodywork missing and the front left wheel pointing at 45 degrees to the norm. The rear left too looks askew. McNish is fighting the car for control, the R8 crabbing along. He manages to get the seemingly wrecked car back into the pitlane, the R8 coming down the length of the pitlane sideways.

JJ Lehto tells Graham Tyler: "Oil everywhere and no flags. I came into the corner at 300kph and it was like hitting ice." Gavin Pickering managed to get through the oil without going off, but pitted for new tyres.

Meanwhile Guy Smith takes over the 88 car, now rather safer in the lead of the race - a lap up on Dindo Capello.

Brabham has a right rear puncture on the Zytek. Andy Wallace – immediately after Brabs’ puncture: "It was a puncture but I think it has damaged the suspension now as well. They need to change one of the wing pods – it’s not the quickest of jobs but we’ll be back out soon.”

The Intersport B160 is in trouble at the second Mulsanne Chicane, at 2 hours 20 minutes. Field gets out, has a look, gets back in, is persuaded by the marshals to refasten his belts, and sets off again, to crab his way back. He's hit something hard.

GT is the big three in the top three (at 150 minutes) , Petersen ahead of BAM! ahead of Freisinger. Sylvia Proudfoot, BAM! PR, reports that the Petersen car is running the sequential gearbox (that BAM! might have done but didn't) and the 90 car is faster down the Mulsanne Straights, but the 87 car is quicker through the last sector, in particular the Porsche Curves. Leo Hindery is currently in the BAM! RSR and is being caught by Ralf Kelleners.

Allan McNish is taken away for a precautionary check in hospital (sorry, circuit medical centre).

GTS: Beretta is seven seconds ahead of Rydell, with Enge third, having just set a 3:53, 33 seconds behind. Larbre's 550 is fourth.

150 minutes, and the Champion R8 looks ready to go, having lost 40 minutes plus. Werner races away, nine laps down.

Having been "great" according to Gunnar Jeannette, the Epsilon C65 is wheeled into its garage.

Paul Slinger’s Pit Lane Update


(our man Slinger was in the Audi UK Veloqx garage when the fire extinguisher went off - as the mechanics repaiared the 8 R8 - but coughed his way into the Champion pit and found JJ Lehto.)
“I was doing around 300km/h two or three car lengths behind Allan and then we got to the braking point and Allan just went straight off, I did exactly the same. It was really fast but I’m perfectly ok. We didn’t touch until we were in the barriers already. We were both just racing and arrived at the corner, it was like hitting ice and there was no oil flags or warning at all. I don’t know why, maybe the oil had only just been put down?”

There seemed to be some interesting hand signals between you and Allan afterwards?

“I wasn’t gesturing towards Allan at all, I was trying to get the marshals to pull me clear because I thought I could get the car back to the pits and they didn’t seem to want to do anything.”


Nigel Smith endures a nine minute lap in the Perspective Porsche, after a second puncture for this car.

Positions at 19.00, after three hours racing, at the foot of the page. It's seemed like more than three hours..

The diesel has stopped in the pit lane, some way from 'home', Kumpen at the wheel. It's being pushed to its pit.

The 16 Dome has had a gearbox (internals) change, Justin Wilson explaining the problem to Paul Slinger: “We had a big problem with the car – every time I changed down a gear the car would go into neutral, which made it pretty scary to drive. When the safety car came out I came in to pit and went from third to second, but got neutral and so nearly hit the pit wall. "

Leo Hindery has hit the wall - at the Ford Chicane. He appeared to out-brake himself. Damage should be fairly minimal.

The leading LMP2 car, the factory Courage C65 AER is running in seventh place with the leading GTS car, the 64 Corvette in eighth. In GT Patrick Long has the 90 Petersen car up to 17th place overall.

Guy Smith pits for a routine stop in the leading Audi at 6:58.

The PK Sport Porsche rejoins after a 50 plus minue pit stop but is running slowly out on the course.

Positions At 3 Hours - 46 laps
5 45 laps
9 -58 secs
18 -1min 11
6 -1min 53
15 -2min 09
31 44 laps
64 43 laps GTS leader
65 -12secs
66 -1min 37
20 -2min 05
16 42 laps
90 GT leader


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