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LMES - Spa-Francorchamps - Hours 2 & 3
As the Safety Car is withdrawn Herbert leads Capello by 18 seconds. Sam Hignett is now up to third spot in the Team Jota Zytek two minutes further back, with a great Rollcentre/ Nasamax battle just 6 seconds behind the Zytek.

Its raining - again!!

Barbosa is flying in the rain, pulling clear of the Nasamax and closing on the Zytek. But he spins at Raidillon, no damage, the car rejoins but he loses the spot to the Nasamax.

The rain is getting heavier - The pitlane may well be a busy place again for the fourth time in 80 minutes.

The Cirtek Ferrari - #92 becomes the second lucky recipient of a 5 minute stop and go penalty.

Unsurprisingly all the major runners are stopping for wet weather tyres, the rain is still falling heavily as we approach the 90 minute mark. At some point here, Barbosa passes Herbert on the track, but pits at the end of that lap, so it isn't recorded on the timing screen.

Minassian is now the fastest man on track in the DBA, his recovery drive has now netted 9th place as he passes GTS leader Bouchut in the #86 Larbre Ferrarit.

Both of the LMP2 Courages have stayed out in the rain and are now running 3rd and 4th overall with Patrick Pearce next up in the Dallara, Sam Hignett having vacated the Jota Zytek to be replaced by Collini.

Capello is now eating into Herbert's lead, an advantage that had stretched to well over 20 seconds is now down to 18 once again.

Patrick Pearce is having a fine run, up to third as he goes by Jonathan Cochet.

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Minassian is still pushing hard, closing in on Tommy Erdos for 7th

The rain stops again and with bright sunshine appearing immediately the cars are looking for wet patches to cool their tyres. The #84 Seikel Porsche is the first to make the choice to go for slicks, Graeme Mundy the brave man at the wheel.

Piers Masarati, profiting from a great tyre call to go onto intermediates has brought the #75 Autorlando car up into 4th in GT, wets are clearly not the tyre to have now, the rear screen- less, wet shod Cirtek Porsche drops 5 seconds per lap to the “Winner from Pinner”

Collini pits from 6th in the Jota Zytek for slicks and fuel. There is however a further problem, the car is pushed back into the pitbox.

Minassian is now up to sixth having passed Erdos. The Frenchman is now closing in on the Nasamax, just ten seconds ahead. It takes just one further lap for the DBA to latch onto the tail of the #14 car

Bouchut cedes the GTS lead, pitting for slicks, Alzen now leads the class, 9th overall. The #86 Ferrari rejoins with Steve Zacchia at the wheel.

Herbert is now comprehensively outpacing Capello, the team’s choice for intermediates clearly paying off as team Goh call in the #5 car for slicks. Ara climbs aboard and the car rejoins but Herbert passes the car at the top of Eau Rouge to put Team Goh a lap down..

Pearce pits from third for tyres and Cochet reclaims third overall, the LMP2 Courage running quicker at the moment than the race leading Audi.

The DBA is now clearly in tyre trouble, Ara blasts by on the straight and Minassian pits, Jamie Campbell-Walter is ready to climb aboard but there is a delay for front-right hand bodywork damage to be attended to. On slicks the Team Goh car is now 5 seconds per lap faster than the intermediate shod Herbert.

The #81 Farnbacher Porsche, running second in GT stops out on the circuit.

2 hours 10 minutes – Safety Car

Patrick Pearce loses control on the white line at the top of Eau Rouge and the Dallara impacts the Armco hard on the outside sideways on, the car spins again and hits again front end on, shedding much of its bodywork. The Safety crews are in attendance. Adam Proctor reports that Patrick was conscious when the car came to a halt and has now been removed from the heavily damaged car to an ambulance.

Herbert pits for slicks and Jamie Davies takes over at the wheel of #88.

Wim Eyckmans completed his entire stint, throughout some of the worst of the weather, on slick tyres in the Paul Belmondo Courage: “We wanted to save a pitstop but it was very difficult to keep it on the track, I lost a lot of time on track but I kept it going.” The #26 is two laps down on the class leader, the factory Courage (in third overall).

Under the Safety Car the race order is:

88 – Davies 54 Laps
5 – Ara 53 Laps
13 – Frei 52 Laps
7 – Newton +17 seconds
14 – Dumas 51 laps
59 – 50 Laps
26 – Belmondo + 6 seconds
86 – Zacchia +2 seconds
3 – Campbell Walter - + 10 seconds
85 – Ortelli +34 seconds.

We hear that Patrick Pearce is mercifully OK. It's been two and a half hours of absolute drama and incident here. Bright sunshine and a dry track now - which is the signal for Romain Dumas to set the Nasamax's best lap of the race, a 2:11.158, running extremely well in fifth place. Dumas is catching Mike Newton for fourth - at 14 seconds per lap.

"It's a terrific shame," commented Joao Barbosa, as the wreck of the Dallara was returned to the pits. "The car was the best it's been all season: if only we could have started the season with the car as well sorted as this."

The earlier problems for the team Jota Zytek were caused when Gianni Collini spun out of Stavelot, the car brushed off the rear wing and broke a rear track rod. Collini rejoined after the repairs were effected but suffered another spin, this time harmless through the Bus Stop. The car is now down in 14th place.

The #32 Lucchini is now up into the top ten overall closing in on the ninth placed overall, GT class leading Freisinger Porsche. The LMP2 pits next time around though which allows Danny Sullivan up into the top ten in what could be his last race.

Mike Newton grabs third place from Alexander Frei but he is in turn being caught fast by Romain Dumas, the Frenchman is storming along in the Nasamax.

Positions at Three Hours
#88 68 laps
#5 -93 secs
#7 65 laps
#14 +17 secs
#13 +43 secs
#3 64 laps
#26 +73 secs
#86 63 laps
#85 +60 secs
#61 62 laps
#36 +1.9 secs
#69 62 laps
#32 61 laps
#59 61 laps
#35 61 laps
#81
#87
#62
#93
#80
#75 etc.

Ten minutes after three hours, Safety Car again. The Nasamax has gone off at the same corner that claimed Ayari, heavy front end damage. Dumas was less than a second ahead of the DBA, for position, at the time. "Considerable damage," says Kieron Salter, "but tub still intact."

That's four protypes with very heavy damage, out of the race.

 

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