1000 Km – Hours 2-3
Faster & Faster
Mark Howson has seen spins galore into the escape road at Chemin
aux Boeufs, the ‘kink’ on the back straight: The Panoz
was the first of them very early on, then the System Force Porsche,
T2-M Porsche, #46 TVR (straight across the gravel), the Saleen,
the RML MG-Lola, the Sebah Porsche, the Taurus Lola – and
the #45 TVR spun into the gravel and was pushed back out.
passed Jan Lammers for second place at turn 13, the penultimate
right hander on the Bugatti track.
a driveshaft break on the Saleen, and was fortunate to have it happen
very near the end of the lap. Seiler resumed 18 laps behind the
after 13.00 and prototypes occupied the first five places overall,
TK, Sarrazin, Lammers, Field, Eyckmans (above) – in five different
cars. Kristensen led by over a minute though. Bouchut / Davies /
Ortelli / Liddell were in sixth to ninth, with the slightly delayed
XL had a comic
opera stop. Vannelet exited the car and butted helmets with his
relief. After some wringing of their heads each driver went his
(System Force Porsche): "I'm happy to drive in the rain, it's
much better than the dry. It also opens new perspectives as many
of the faster car will take risks during the opening stages of the
race. I'll follow my own rhythm and try not to lose time on the
track. The 24 hours are our aim and getting a wild card here would
be great. We'll do the Le Mans series or the FIA-GT depending on
the budget. FIA-GT is so much more competitive and more expensive
so the LMES could be a great alternative."
Peter Kox and
Jamie Davies both commented on a lack of grip but at the driver
change (at about the one-hour mark) both cars went out still on
their original wets. We suspect this is because they did not have
any intermediates mounted and ready. Kox had had just one spin during
his stint against Bouchut’s two, but Bouchut did lead at the
Big news in
GT as Robin Liddell has passed Stephane Ortelli for the class lead—PK
in front! Ortelli noticeably faded over the intervening minutes
and made a scheduled stop. Daoudi took over the car, now running
The 675 class
had flipped around with the surprisingly quick Courage of Eyckmans
some 25 seconds clear of the Field Lola. The two are running 4th
and 5th overall.
There were more
surprises in GT as Sylvain Noel took over the class lead when the
PK car stopped. The Lister returned to the race after having been
stationary since lap 8. Meanwhile, the GTS battle heated up by several
notches. Rarely were the two cars separated by more than a tenth
of a second. On lap 57, Bouchut lost some 3 ½ seconds (spin?),
leaving the Viper now behind Davies’ no. 88 Ferrari.
At 13:45 William
David is spotted walking back to the garages, having abandoned his
WR at Turn 9 (contact with the tyre wall). Several minutes later
the little 675 car mysteriously reappears in pit lane. At the same
time Noel made the Jubin Porsche’s planned stop (switch to
Tinseau), putting the PK entry back into the GT lead (now with J-P
The 675 contest
remained quite close as Jon Field steadily ate into Eyckmans’
lead. At the two-hour mark the gap was only 5 seconds. There were
about 13 seconds separating first and second GTS, Davies ahead of
Bouchut. The top three in GT are on the same lap, no. 38 (Belloc,
PK Porsche) and no. 39 (Freisinger Porsche) are separated by 5 seconds
while no. 47 (Cirtek Ferrari) is another 40 seconds behind. Belloc
was pulling away though, for PK.
No. 5, Kristensen, Audi, 66 laps
No. 2, Sarrazin, Courage, - 1 lap
No. 8, Lammers, Dome, - 2 laps
No. 18, Field, Lola, passed into LMP 675 lead
No. 13, Eyckmans Courage, -1 sec. But fading
No. 88, Davies, Ferrari, 1st GT
No. 86, Bouchut, Viper, -30s
No. 7, Goddard, Reynard
No. 9, Andrews, Lola
No. 80, Sugden, Ferrari
No. 38, Belloc, PK Porsche
No. 39, Daoudi, Freisinger Porsche
No. 47, Peter, Cirtek Ferrari
No. 33, Tinseau, Jubin Porsche
No. 10, Beretta, Panoz
No. 36, Collard, Sebah Porsche
No. 12, Rostan, Pilbeam
No. 30, Mullen, Haggis Ferrari
the third hour and the Courage took on cut slicks as Franck Lagorce
hopped aboard the second placed car. Meanwhile, Earl Goddard went
off course at post 14, ‘S’ bend before the entrance
to the front straight.
back at GT events. Johnny Mowlem had two spins in his opening stint:
“A prototype came down the inside of me and I slid into the
gravel – straight into the hole that Robin had left there.
He’d obviously driven out, but I was stuck in his hole! They
pulled me out, losing us a couple of laps. Then I caught Pompidou
into the unlop Chicane, and he was going incredibly slowly. I spun
to try and miss him, but spin into him, which damaged a radiator
– so we’re about 11 laps down.”
Robin Liddell pitted from the GT lead at 100 minutes, in the PK
car. A late decision saw replacement wets replaced by inters. Belloc
took over, and consolidated the lead over Freisinger’s Daoudi.
very greasy out there. The biggest moment could have been when one
of the WRs came out of the pit lane and spun right across me as
I drive up the pits straight on full throttle! I had a couple of
spins, and I must have had contact six or eight times. I passed
Ortelli into the Chicane on the back straight. But as I was doing
that, the Panoz passed me on the other side – so I slipped
between them, making contact with both."
Erdos pitted at 2 hours 15 minutes (a double stint), but we believe
he had a gearbox problem. Chris Goodwin was looking forward to the
challenge of the powerful turbocharged car on such a tricky surface.
“Tommy is having a bit of a mare, I think,” was Goodwin’s
observation, ten minutes before he was due to get in. But the car
is in the garage at 2 hours 20. Erdos also had a severe brake problem,
the pedal giving him retardation at different positions each time
he wanted to stop.
as slippery as a nun’s (expletive deleted) out there,
and it was our first wet session with the car,” explained
Neil Cunningham. A broken window (windscreen) sounds like a repeat
of yesterday morning.
2 hours 20:
The Larbre Viper has been in and out of the gravel. It’s second
in GTS. Fanny Duchateau has just got into the ladies TVR, and she’s
got the black and yellow car flying along, just a second slower
than the fastest cars in the class! “Les Femmes Pour Le Mans”
are in 27th place, but it looks as though they won’t be for
At the front
of the field, approaching 150 minutes, Kristensen is the only man
to have driven the R8, and he’s a lap ahead of the Courage,
but Franck Lagorce has just set the fastest lap of the race –
on hand-cut slicks, we believe. Only seven hundredths faster than
the Audi’s best – but lapping three seconds faster than
the Audi at the moment.
The Dome is
now two laps down, possibly struggling with tyres that were great
in the wet, less so in the damp (but drying all the time). Freisinger’s
Porsche seems to be going through the same cycle.
inters, Martin Shortscar in the Reynard is pressing on – a
very low 1:49, the car’s best lap of the race…but we’ll
see more of this as conditions continue to improve.
At 150 minutes, Ara is in the Audi for the first time, Kristensen
seeming to have struggled for the last few laps of his stint –
presumably with tyres that were going off. Wets? Lagorce (on inters)
was six seconds faster than TK before the Dane stopped. All this
has left Lagorce 47 seconds behind Ara.
The RML entry has been retired with gearbox trouble, the R&S
(did we mention a tooth missing from the cwp in the warm up?) has
done only 23 laps, but we believe Clint Field is still smiling here,
as he laps up his first race at Le Mans. The Saleen has had a second
very long stop.
Rules Change, Rules Change! Because the Nasamax was withdrawn from
the meeting, leaving eight LMP 900 / GTP cars here racing, only
two entries will be awarded in next year’s 24 hours from the
they are a changing. Suddenly, Jon Field is the fastest man on the
track, the first below 1:40, while Ara, Lagorce and Wallace are
battling at around 1:41. Field is reeling in the 675 Courage for
fourth place and the class lead. All this after Duncan Dayton described
the Intersport Lola as “horrible” in the warm up. But
the race seems to be coming back to the Lola B160 Judd.
Ara is the next man under 1:40. He pulled away from Lagorce.
an hour from Daoudi, Ortelli is in the Freisinger Porsche again
– on Dunlop slicks. Vassiliev might not see much of the inside
of the Freisinger Porsche.
(getting ready to drive again): "We are losing some time right
now. They (PK Sport) have very good drivers in their car, it could
be a good race. But we are losing too much time. We have to change
Karl Baron (BE-Racing): "Our car is better
than the Porsches in the dry but not as good in the wet. We have
changed the setup in the morning so the car runs reasonably well
in the wet and in the dry. The others have not made their second
stop yet, so we are confident."
The Cirtek Ferrari
is third in GT (above), and currently Montermini is ahead of Ortelli.
Jon Field drops
into the 1:37s, and gets to within half a minute of Eyckmans in
the fourth placed Courage C65.
his slicks, he’s five seconds a lap faster than Belloc on
the PK Porsche’s inters. So the PK Porsche pits next, for
has found the gravel in the Panoz – he was in 19th place.
Another big car, the XL Ferrari 550, has had a brief fuel fire.
The Goddard Reynard has pitted, engine cover off – but just
a quick look and it’s back out in tenth.
No. 5, Ara, Audi, 100 laps
No. 2, Lagorce, Courage, - 2 lap
No. 8, Wallace, Dome, - 3 laps
No. 18, Field, Lola, passed into LMP 675 lead, Field in the car
the whole race so far – 4 laps
No. 13, Rusinov, Courage – 5 laps
No. 88, Turner, Ferrari, 1st GT
No. 80, Kox, Ferrari – 1 lap
No. 9, Keen, Lola
No. 86, Vosse, Viper
No. 7, Short, Reynard
No. 38, Liddell, PK Porsche – 8 secs
No. 47, Montermini, Cirtek Ferrari –12 secs
No. 39, Otrtelli, Freisinger Porsche
No. 33, Tinseau, Jubin Porsche
No. 46 Caine TVR
No. 36, Pompidou, Sebah Porsche
No. 30, Franchitti, Haggis Ferrari – 15 secs and catching
No. 10, Saelens, Panoz.
improved his time on every lap since he got into the Lister: 1:44
, 1:41, 1:40. 1:40, 1:39, 1:38, 1:37. 1:37, 1:36
surprised by the behavior of the car in the rain, it's better than
in dry conditions, but we've a major condensation problem in this
closed car. We'll try to resolve but it was really bad.”
out the first safety car at 15.10. Ah, gravel on the track at the
S Bleu - which has presumably been there since the start of the
race, but in lesser quantities than now present.