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LMES - Spa-Francorchamps - Hours 4 & 5
20 minutes into the fourth hour and the Safety Cars are still out, for the Nasamax wreck.

Significant withdrawals not mentioned so far:
Choroq Porsche - electrical
Lister - (engine). Correction: "The radiator was replaced, the engine running perfectly - our decision was not to risk any more, we were 20 laps down and after seeing Pescarolo ....... you can imagine! We had nothing to gain," explains Fiona Pearce.

The Freisinger Porsche is over two laps up in GT, ahead of the Farnbacher Porsche, with the Masarati / Halliday Autorlando Porsche third, Sebah fourth. The British team needs fourth place to secure an automatic Le Mans entry.

The Lamy and Sullivan Ferraris are close together at the head of GTS, a lap clear of the Vitaphone Saleen, which lost time with repairs to the diffuser of the Saleen. Biagi replaces Sullivan in #61, still under the Safety Car at nearly three and a half hours.

Thoughts so far? It's been the most unpredictable LMES race by far.... full of drama, weather, accidents, Safety Cars.

Three and a half hours, and the Safety Cars are about to pull off again.

#88 - #5 - #7 - #13 - #3 - #26 is the order at the front, with JC-W about to gobble up the factory Courage, we suspect.

The Vitaphone Saleen has, we are sure, been running without its diffuser - and Bartels spins at the top of Eau Rouge, having just set this car's best lap of the race!

Safety Car again! This race looks like running to six hours, rather than 144 laps.

The #35 G Force Pilbeam is out (clutch), but the Vitaphone Saleen is heading very slowly back to the pits - just as the SCs are about to release the field.

JC-W is about to pass the red Courage, and he's not far behind the RML Lola... so about to take third place. Lamy and Biagi are separated by seven seconds for the GTS lead. Biagi has set his best lap of the race (2:22.766).

JC-W takes fourth, and sets off after Mike Newton in the #7 Lola (2:13 chasing 2:19).

Most bizarre cause of an accident today: something in the Nasamax footwell chafed Dumas' boot and he caught it on the throttle, effectively jamming it open - causing his crash.

Third in GTS is Tomas Enge in the second Larbre Ferrari: he's lapping in 2:22, his team-mates having spent the first half of the race lapping in 2:38s.

Five minutes short of four hours and JC-W takes third place in the Creation DBA, having taken 18 seconds out of the #7 Lola in two laps. He's four laps down on Jamie Davies in #88.

The gap between the two Audis is 1 min 54secs, and it seems to have been stuck at this kind of gap for hours now.

GT is #85 - #81 - #93 - #80 - #75.. with Maassen catching Thyrring for second. Freisinger's RSR is still two laps clear.

Lamy is pulling away from Biagi at the head of GTS, the gap up to 30 seconds.

The 2004 Lucchini was chasing the WR for third in LMP2, way behind the two Courages, but the Italian car has been donated a three minute penalty. The car then struggled to fire up again.

Did we mention a five minute penalty for the #62 Ferrari 575 very early in the race? That was for unacceptable conduct in the pit lane.

4 hours 10 minutes into the race and JC-W is really hustling along in the DBA. He sets a 2:06.774, the fastest lap of the race so far, only seven tenths slower than the DBA's pole time. But for that lap 1 puncture...

The Sebah Porsche takes third in GT, Maassen is second, Thyrring drops to fourth.

Paul Belmondo passes the pits offering a finger to Mike Newton, and unlaps himself at Les Combes. He then passed the factory Courage for the lead of LMP2. Belmondo then goes on to post the cars fastest lap of the race, down into the 2:14s as Newton pits to hand over the RML car to Miguel Ramos, a slow out lap from ramos allows Belmondo by to put the #26 car up into 4th overall with Sam Hancock in the #13 Courage now closing on the RML Lola.

More seriously, Patrick Pearce has been flown to Liege Hospital.

Jamie C-W is right with Jamie D, and looking to unlap himself from the race leader. He does so after 4 hours and 18 minutes but then makes a scheduled pitstop. Both surviving Audis pit too, Davies stays in #88 but Capello takes over in the #5 car.

John Bosch takes over the second placed GTS car the #61 Barron Connor Ferrari, the car pits again immediately though, the team looking behind the front bumper - Radiator damage?

The third placed GTS car, the #87 Larbre Ferrari 550 has an eventful 93rd lap with two off-track excursions, the car though continues, albeit slowly, the car cruising back to the pits where, ironically it passes the still stationary Bosch 575.

Jamie Davies posts the fastest lap of the race, a 2:06.626 to consolidate the now dominant lead for #88.

Motors TV have incurred the wrath of the Sharpe clan (not a sensible thing to do) wishing Adam Sharpe a happy 20th birthday but remarking that he will do himself no favours by taking the TVR off the course - The culprit was not Sharpe but rather John Hartshorne. "I was sitting on the toilet at the time," said the birthday boy."

Belmondo pits and the pack is shuffled once again, both the RML Lola and the factory Courage go by. Worse still, the cars pits again next time around, Gosselin now at the wheel, John Stack takes the Jota Zytek by to grab the overall sixth position. The Paul Belmondo Racing team set to work on what looks like an electrical problem (as well as some minor rear end damage), the car rejoins the race but pits for a third time in as many laps, Pedro Lamy now takes the #86 Larbre Ferrari by for 7th overall.

Ramos pits out of sequence in the RML Lola MG, fuel and tyres but the delay is enough to allow Sam Hancock to sweep by in the #13 Courage

In GT Freisinger is dominant, three laps clear now over the chasing pack. That chasing pack though is very fluid - a late problem or a fluffed pit stop could mean heartbreak or hooray for Sebah, JMB or Cirtek - This will go to the wire. There are all sorts of permutations to secure the two LM places.

Just after the hour, the Goh Audi is off then on again, making second place for this car look more and more likely. Capello pits immediately.

At Five Hours - GT cars in italics
#88 117 laps
#5 116 laps
#3 113 laps
#13 111 laps
#7 110 laps
#69 109 laps
#86 107 laps
#85 105 laps (1)
#36 +71 secs
#87 104 laps
#26 +74 secs
#62 +40 secs
#11 103 laps
#93 103 laps (2)
#80 102 laps (3)
#81 +51 secs (4)
#75 +17 secs
(5)
#27 101 laps
#70 (6)
#99
#32

 

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