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Le Mans 1000 Km – Hour 1
Great Balls Of Spray - Initially

dailysportscar.comKristensen and Lammers moved away into the distance very early on, Erdos spun the RML Lola at Dunlop on lap 1, the Panoz spun towards the end of lap 2, and was beached in the gravel.

The Lister ran third for a couple of laps, then dropped behind the Pescarolo Courage – and Peter Kox was fifth by lap four, in the #80 550, ahead of Earl Goddard, Jon Field (675 leader) and Jamie Davies. Ortelli was ahead of Kaufmann’s Saleen and led GT.

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The rain has made for a fairly slow start. There is a light persistent drizzle. Races on the Bugatti circuit appear inherently slower than those on the long course as the cars come by the front straight out of a tight turn.

It took ten minutes before Beretta was able to extricate the Panoz coupe from the gravel. The Scottish Ferrari was the first to make a pit stop. The top standings in the early going are; Kristensen (Audi), Lammers (Dome), Sarrazin (Courage), Campbell-Walter (Lister) in LMP 900 and overall. This group opened up a 25 second lead over the rest of the field but it soon came undone when the Lister coasted past the pits slowly and far too quietly. Clint Field started from the pits in the Riley & Scott as the crew busily replaced a differential following a problem during the morning warm-up.

The GTS order is Kox (Prodrive Ferrari), Bouchut (Larbre Viper) and Davies (Prodrive Ferrari)—certainly a good start for the Chrysler. Surprisingly, the 675 class is off the pace of the faster production cars. Their early order was Field (Lola), Eyckmans, de Fournoux, Erdos.

Ortelli (Freisinger Porsche) was the early GT leader and well clear of many slower prototypes. Liddell (PK Porsche), Pompidou (Sebah Porsche), Mowlem (Seikel Porsche), and Peter (Cirtek Ferrari) made for a very close bunch at the head of GT. The T2M Porsche fell out of this group when Forgeois spun into the gravel.

An excellent battle erupted at the 20-minute mark between Bouchut’s Viper and the Kox (no. 80) Ferrari. The 550 Maranello was barely able to hold off the Larbre Viper. Up front the Courage of Sarrazin has steadily been reeling in the Dome and the French driver passes into second place on lap 13. Once clear, Sarrazin steadily pulls away.

Tom Kristensen pulled out a nearly 20 second lead by lap 15. That has not been a surprise. The pleasant surprises thus far have been the excellent battle for second (Lammers close to Sarrazin) and the aggressive run of the Viper in GTS. Bouchut retook the top spot from Kox at the half-hour mark. Ortelli’s demon start with Freisinger car is a minor upset while the Cirtek Ferrari’s poor start has been a disappointment.

Thirty-minute standings:
5, Audi, Kristensen, 17 laps
2, Courage, Sarrazin, -22s
8, Dome, Lammers, -32s
7, Reynard, Goddard, -1 lap
80, Ferrari, Kox [retook GTS lead]
86, Viper, Bouchut, -5 s
9, Lola, Andrews
18, Lola, J. Field, 1st 675
88, Ferrari, Davies [going slowly now]
13, Courage, Eyckmans
25, WR, de Fournoux
39, Porsche, Ortelli, 1st GT
66, Saleen, Kaufmann
38, Porsche, Liddell, -15s behind Ortelli

The RML MG-Lola was up to 16th after their first lap spin and the Intersport Riley & Scott is 24th. The Debora stopped on course briefly, continued, some 6 laps off the pace—so what else is new?

Tommy Erdos (no. 14 MG-Lola) was the first to make what appeared to be too early for a scheduled stop. The Riley & Scott also made an early stop (clutch).

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The windscreen had been misting badly on the Ecosse Ferrari, necessitating their earlier stop. The team have opened some vents to increase the airflow.

The Lister broke its right driveshaft while completing lap 7. “Such bad luck” said Jamie Campbell-Walter. “All the dry running we’ve done, then this happens in the wet . . . “ Nicolaus Springer (jokingly) blamed Tom Coronel. “He’s always breaking driveshafts in his BMW. He drove it last . . .”

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The GTS battle suffered an interruption when Bouchut spun the Viper, but he regained his direction and composure, losing only seven seconds.

As from the 40-minute mark the drivers began to look for wet lines as the rain stopped. However, the slightly lifting skies remain quite overcast. A dry line did begin to appear—enticingly.

The heroes of the first hour?—besides the good battles mentioned previously, a fine fourth place by Earl Goddard is of note. This was a good comeback as father Fred noted that the car was behaving quite poorly during the morning warm-up.

Near the end of the first hour, the Field Lola and the Panoz touched while going under the Dunlop Bridge with no apparent damage. Bouchut made up his deficit, but perhaps of equal or more important note, the gap for the overall lead has dropped to a mere five seconds—tires?

The one-hour mark was still too early for regular stops, so the halts of Pompidou (no. 36 Sebah Porsche) and the no. 45 TVR (Stretton) were unscheduled.

Earl Goddard was the first of the frontrunners to pit with the car covered in gravel and other muck. It is unknown where he went off but the car is back out without a change of tyes. Meanwhile, Kox has fallen well off the pace, the Ferrari down to 13th overall. Also in trouble—the Kaufmann Saleen made a long stop. The fine start of the Goddard Reynard came to naught as the car was in making changes to the front damping system.

One-hour standings:
#5, Audi, Kristensen,
#2, Courage, Sarrazin, -5s
#8, Dome, Lammers, - 1 lap [stop at 1 hour point]
#86, Viper, Bouchut, 1st GTS
#18, Lola, Field, 1st 675
#88, Ferrari, Davies
#13, Courage, Eyckmans
#7, Reynard, Goddard
#39, Freisinger Porsche, Ortelli
#38, PK Porsche, Liddell
#33, Jubin Porsche, Noel
#24, WR, Porta
#47, Cirtek Ferrari, Peter

dailysportscar.comThe hour ended with Sarrazin stopping out of second place. It turned out to be fuel only as the new set of wets standing by were not mounted. Lammers did switch to inters., which looked like a good move.

No sign of the Seikel Porsche getting under way after an early trip into the gravel. Lister was still stationary at 1 hour. The Saleen is in its garage, reason unknown for now.

Next report at half way (three hours).

 

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