Sunday 17 June 2012

History Made by Audi at Le Mans

History Made by Audi at Le Mans

Starting from pole position the nr1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro made Le Mans history by becoming the first hybrid car to win the 24 Heures du Mans.  Andre Lotterer took the chequered flag after 378 laps to retain the title he won with Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler last year and also secured maximum points for both the manufacturers and drivers titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship.  

240,000 people travelled for the 80th edition of the world’s greatest endurance race and were treated to a classic race that was action packed from start to finish.  The main challenge to the nr1 Audi came from the second hybrid Audi driven by Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello but also from the two Toyota TS030 hybrids, which ran comfortably in the top three and led for some of the race. However a big accident destroyed the nr8 Toyota driven by Anthony Davidson and the second Toyota eventually retired with engine failure in the 11th hour.

With the Toyotas out of the frame it was a straight fight between the four Audis but which Audi would be on the top step of the podium?  The nr3 Audi Ultra had problems when Romain Dumas went off at the first chicane and destroyed the front of the car.  The Frenchman managed to get the car back to the pit for repairs. Then Marc Gene did exactly the same thing at the same corner on Sunday morning and this effectively dropped them out of contention.

The two hybrid Audis were evenly matched and the result was certainly not clear cut until McNish in the nr2 car went off at Porsche Curves and had to spend six minutes in the pits while the damaged parts were replaced.  However a safety car was deployed so he only lost 1 lap to the nr1 car. This was how the result looked at the end of 24 hours, with the nr4 Audi R18 Ultra in 3rd place, which isn’t entered for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The private team’s LMP1 battle was dominated by the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyotas with the nr12 Lola of Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani and Nick Heidfeld triumphing at the end of the grueling race and finishing 4th overall at the flag.  The nr 13 Rebellion Lola of Harold Primat, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Andrea Belicchi ran a close second to the sister car until a problem forced the car into the garage dropping it back to 3rd.  The nr22 JRM HPD-Honda was a distance 2nd and the Strakka Racing HPD came back out at the end after also spending a lot of time in the garage.

The LMP2 class was won by the nr44 Starworks Motorsport HPD-Honda with Enzo Potolicchio and Ryan Dalziel adding a second class victory to the one they scored in Sebring and give the team a strong advantage in the LMP2 FIA Endurance Trophy. Tom Kimber-Smith, who replaced Stephane Sarrazin in the team for this race, scored his second Le Mans victory in consecutive seasons.   The nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca Nissan of Pierre Kaffer, Soheil Ayari and Luis Perez-Companc were the second WEC car in LMP2, while the nr 41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan scored a bumper 30 championship points for third for the British team.

The LMGTE Pro category turned into a classic Ferrari versus Aston Martin battle with the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander holding off the challenge of the nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari of Frederic Makowiecki, Jaime Melo and Dominik Farnbacher and the nr97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez.  The Luxury Racing Ferrari had a long pitstop towards the end of the race, dropping the car down two laps but still 1 lap ahead of the Aston Martin.

The LMGTE Am class was equally close with the nr50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette of Pedro Lamy, Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser have a very close battle with the nr67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche.  This battle continued for a couple of hours before the Corvette got the upper hand.  The second WEC car in the LMGTE Am class to cross the line was the nr57 Krohn Racing Ferrari of Tracey Krohn, Niclas Jonsson and Michele Rugolo.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is the 6 Hours of Silverstone on the 26th August before the championship heads to South America for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo three weeks later.

RESULT – 17 JUNE 2012
1 1 Audi Sport Team Joest Fässler / Lotterer / Tréluyer Audi R18 e-tron quattro 378 laps
2 2 Audi Sport Team Joest Capello / Kristensen / McNish Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 377 laps
3 4 Audi Sport North America Bonanomi / Jarvis / Rockenfeller Audi R18 Ultra LMP1 M 375 laps
4 12 Rebellion Racing Prost / Jani / Heidfeld Lola B12/60 Coupe - Toyota LMP1 M 367 laps
5 3 Audi Sport Team Joest Dumas / Duval / Gené Audi R18 Ultra LMP1 M 366 laps
6 22 JRM Brabham / Chandhok / Dumbreck HPD ARX 03a - Honda LMP1 M 357 laps
7 44 Starworks Motorsports Potolicchio / Dalziel / Kimber-Smith HPD ARX 03b - Honda LMP2 D 354 laps
8 46 Thiriet By TDS Racing Beche / Thiriet / Tinseau Oreca 03 - Nissan LMP2 D 353 laps
9 49 Pecom Racing Perez Companc / Ayari / Kaffer Oreca 03 - Nissan LMP2 D 352 laps
10 26 Signatech Nissan Panciatici / Ragues / Rusinov Oreca 03 - Nissan LMP2 D 351 laps

17 51 AF Corse Fisichella / Bruni / Vilander Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE Pro M 336 laps
18 59 Luxury Racing Makowiecki / Melo / Farnbacher Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE Pro M 333 laps
19 97 Aston Martin Racing Fernandez / Mücke / Turner Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE Pro M 332 laps
20 50 Larbre Competition Bornhauser / Canal / Lamy Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 LMGTE Am M 329 laps
21 67 Imsa Performance Matmut Armindo / Narac / Pons Porsche 911 RSR (997) LMGTE Am M 328 laps

CLICK HERE for full results from the 24 Heures du Mans

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): "This was an incredible race. There were so many highs and low - especially for me. I had a great team. The mechanics gave everything after the accident to repair the car as quickly as possible. As always, my driver colleagues did a fantastic job too. For Audi, this is a great day. Clinching not just victory but a one-two result with the new technology of the e-tron quattro is a brilliant feat."

André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): "The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is very strong and gave us a lot of confidence. It’s brilliant to have won yet again! That’s an incredibly nice feeling. It was a really strenuous race. A year ago, we were battling against Peugeot and this year against Toyota at the beginning of the race. Unfortunately, our rival retired. But we contested a very fierce race against car number ‘2’ in our team as well. Audi Sport allowed all of us to give everything. It was real racing, and in your own team that’s particularly interesting. Last year, we were running against Peugeot by ourselves after two major accidents. This year, the trust among the entire squad has grown even further. Competing with Audi continues to be very special."

Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): "It was a very tough race because traffic on track was particularly heavy this year. You had to be extremely careful not to leave the racing line while lapping as the track was extremely slippery there. There were a number of critical maneuvers. In the morning hours, we had a thrilling and fair duel with our ‘sister car.’ The duel between the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro impressively proved the potential of the hybrid car. I’m happy to be on the top spot of the podium again."

Dindo Capello (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): "Up until the accident it was a great race. When it happened we were in contention for victory. As we could see last year, you’ve got to take risks if you want to win. Without those risks, Audi wouldn’t have won at that time. That’s why we took risks this year too. The result is a bit disappointing for the whole team and especially for Allan (McNish). As a racer, I know how he’s feeling at the moment. Tom (Kristensen) and I know that something like that can happen to any driver anytime, especially when you’re battling for victory. Here at Le Mans, you can’t afford to give away even a tenth of a second anymore. Sometimes it works out and at others it doesn’t. For us, it didn’t work out this time. But next time we’ll have better luck again."

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): "The race gave me a lot of pleasure because it offered everything. I particularly enjoyed the three stints at night. I was supposed to drive as fast as possible and complete twelve laps with each fuel tank filling. I managed this every time. Especially in the morning when we’d made up a lot of time and even taken the lead we were very confident. I’m sad that I wasn’t able to battle with André (Lotterer) for victory anymore on the final laps. But I’m even sadder about the fact that Dindo (Capello) didn’t win on his last run at Le Mans. He would have deserved it. We gave everything for that. ‘Well done’ to car number ‘1.’ They did a great job and deserve this success as well. Audi’s performance and reliability are impressive when you look at the challenges to be mastered in the race. At Le Mans, you’ve got to expect anything at any time."

Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): "I’m devastated. I’m sorry for our team: Dindo, Tom, the engineers and the mechanics. They did a perfect job throughout the race. Despite a few problems we were in contention for victory up to my accident. I caught a slower GT vehicle in the Porsche corners and expected the driver to stay on the right-hand side. But he didn’t. I haven’t got a clue why. I spun and crashed into the guard rail with the right front. That damaged the front bodywork and the suspension - the necessary repair cost us two laps. That was a very, very big disappointment."

Enzo Potolicchio, nr44 Starworks Motorsports HPD ARX 03b-Honda (1st LMP2): “This is an amazing result. We run in Grand Am, in United-States, that to me doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Last October, we decided to do something else while having dinner together and we ended up in the WEC. We won at Sebring and we now win at Le Mans. I’ve watched these two races on TV for so long and it’s a great feeling to win at these fabulous circuits.”

Tom Kimber-Smith, nr44 Starworks Motorsports HPD ARX 03b-Honda (1st LMP2): “I would like to thank Enzo, Ryan and Peter Baron. We followed our plan. I won last year with a Zytek and I now win with a Honda. For me, a fast and winning car is just perfect. Any winning car is perfect.”

Ryan Dalziel, nr44 Starworks Motorsports HPD ARX 03b-Honda (1st LMP2): "At Sebring we had a brand new car and we won.  At Spa, we had to do some work on the car but the Honda Performance Development chassis is perfect.  We haven't got the pace of the Oreca chassis but we could do triple stints.  I think that was the key to our success."

“A clean car is generally the car which ends up in victory lane. Our car has got a couple of batters and bruises on it but HPD have built a really strong chassis.   We had a couple of small, strange things go wrong during the race – the ECU fell into the tub, for example, but they were small things and nothing that anyone could see from the outside.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (1st LMGTE Pro):  “It’s been a fantastic race, amazing.  It didn’t start very well on Wednesday when I crashed the car.  Fortunately we changed the chassis and it was bad.  The mechanics did a fantastic job and build a new car in less than ten hours and it was great to get out in the last 20 minutes of qualifying on Thursday.  I have to say thank you very much to them, to AF Corse and Amato Ferrari because without them we couldn’t win this race.

“I’ve won a few races in Formula One but this is a great victory and it’s very special.  Winning this race was my dream and it came true.  Thank you too to Gianmaria and Toni – they are professional drivers who did a fantastic job. All together we had a great season already last year and now this year.”

Toni Vilander, nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (1st LMGTE Pro):    “As Giancarlo said we had some issues in practice but we never lost the faith.  We knew when the team put the new car together we’d have the speed.  Last year we were very close and came second in the end after leading by one lap with six hours to go.  This year we believed we could win from the beginning but it was a nerve-wracking last few hours as it feels like they’ll never end.  The team did a very special job in the preparation – taking 10 hours instead of two weeks – and then it was our job to finish it and we did it in the right way. I enjoyed the race a lot.  The start was interesting to see how a 24 hour race can be like a one hour sprint.  Drivers were going for positions from the green flag or start of the race and I’m happy with the weather.  I don’t really enjoy driving at night with the bad weather so overall it was a good Saturday and Sunday.”

Gianmaria Bruni, nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (1st LMGTE Pro):    “Obviously it’s a great feeling, especially like Giancarlo and Toni have said, last year we were so close and we missed it.  This year we knew we could win the race, even when something happened like it did in free practice and we didn’t run at all with our car. We were a bit down, for sure, but we knew we were all together as a team and we could win.  We have a very good package.  To win this race means everything; it’s my second time but I hope to be up here more and more and still doing a good job.  I’m happy for Ferrari and the factory.  We’ve worked so hard from last year with testing and everything and it’s great we’re able to take this trophy back to Maranello.”


End of the first hour at Le Mans. Andre Lotterer leads after starting on Pole from Allan MacNish in 2nd. The two Toyotas are 3rd and 4th with Alex Wutz ahead of Stephan Sarrazin. Nick Heidfeld is the top privateer. In LMP2 Olivier Pla is leading in 10th overall.

In GTE Pro Stefan Mucke was leading in the nr97 Aston Martin before he came in for a pitstop, handing the lead to the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari of Toni Vilander. The nr81 AF Corse Ferrari of Matt Griffin is the current leader in GTE Am.

End of the second hour and the nr1 Audi of Benoit Treluyer is leading from the nr2 Audi of Tom Kristensen. Problems encountered in this hour - nr99 Aston Martin into pits with intermittent traction control problems (Allan Simonsen). The nr71 AF Corse Ferrari (Olivier Beretta) span off into the gravel at Dunlop. The nr 29 Gulf Racing Lola Nissan hit the wall at MP129.

LMP2 leader is still Olivier Pla in the nr24 Oak Racing Morgan-Judd. The top WEC car is LMGTE Pro is the nr97 Aston Martin (Darren Turner), 0.836s behind the nr74 Corvette who is leading the class.

Third hour and the nr1 Audi is still in the lead with the nr7 Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre in second after the nr2 Audi pitted and was pushed into the garage with a problem. Nr8 Toyota (Buemi) is now 3rd. The two Rebellion Racing Lolas are leading the private teams with Neel Jani in the nr12 car in the lead.

Olivier Pla continues to dominate the LMP2 class in the nr24 Oak Racing Morgan-Judd with teammate Bas Leinders in the nr35 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan second.

The battle between Corvette and Aston Martin continues in LMGTE Pro with the nr74 Corvette of Tommy Milner ahead of the nr97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner. In LMGTE Am it is three Porsches covering the top three places with the top WEC car, the nr88 Team Felbermayr Porsche of Gianluca Roda, in 3rd place.

At the end of the fourth hour the two Toyotas continue to run in the top 3 behind the nr1 Audi of Benoit Treluyer, who is just 10 seconds ahead of the nr8 Toyota TS030 of Sebastien Buemi.

Safety car on track following a collision between the nr8 Toyota and nr81 Ferrari with both cars spinning off and hitting the barriers hard. Up to that point the nr1 Audi and nr7 Toyota had been fighting for the lead of the race. Oak Racing still hold top two places in LMP2. The nr51 AF Corse Ferrari is the top WEC car in LMGTE Pro, second behind the nr74 Corvette. The nr50 Larbre Competition Corvette is leading GTE Am.

Also in the 5th hour, the nr3 Audi of Romain Dumas went straight on at the first chicane and hit the barriers, severly damaging the front of the car. Dumas got the car back to the pits and Audi made the repairs in quick time to get the car back on track in 23rd overall.

Safety car period continues while repairs to the barriers are made.

9 O'clock in Le Mans and it is an Audi 1-2-3 after the nr7 Toyota is pushed back into the garage with a problem. Marcel Fassler is 1m16s ahead of Dindo Capello. Nico Prost in the nr12 Rebellion is the top private LMP1 entry in 4th, 3 laps down.

The nr24 Oak Racing Morgan is the leading WEC car in LMP2 but now 1 lap behind the nr48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca.

In GTE Pro the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari is still the lead WEV car but is still behind the nr74 Corvette of Oliver Gavin.

The nr50 Larbre Corvette of Pedro Lamy is the top GTE Am car.

Toyota have issued statement regarding the condition of Anthony Davidson, the driver of the nr8 Toyota that crashed earlier. Anthony is reported as suffering from shock and backpain but is walking and talking OK.

11 O'clock and darkness has fallen at Le Mans, the sky is clear and there is little sign of rain. The nr7 Toyota remains in the garage after an abortive attempt to get back on track. The car stopped at the end of the pitlane before the line and the Toyota mechanics had to push the car back down the pitlane. The nr99 Aston Martin was also declared as abandoned in the pits and will take no further part in the race.

The two Audi hybrids continue to lead with the nr1 Audi of Andre Lotterer completing 125 laps. The nr4 Audi is in 3rd ahead of the two Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyotas who continue to head the LMP1 privateers, three laps behind the leader.

The top WEC LMP2 car is the nr24 Oak Racing, 2nd in class behind the nr48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca, but there nr35 sister car was reported as slow on track and had dropped down the order. This promoted the nr44 Starworks Motorsport HPD-Honda into 3rd in class and 9th overall.

The GTE Pro class was still being led by the nr74 Corvette with the nr51 AF Corse of Gianmaria Bruni in 2nd. The leading WEC car in LMGTE Am is still the nr50 Larbre Competition Corvette of Patrick Bornhauser.

Midnight and the top 3 are still the same with the nr1 Audi (Andre Lotterer) completing 139 laps, 1 lap more than the nr2 Audi of Allan McNish in second. The best of the rest in LMP1 is still the nr12 Rebellion Lola of Nick Heidfeld in 4th, with the sister car of Andrea Belicchi in 5th. The nr21 Strakka Racing HPD-Honda had a drive stop-go penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The nr7 Toyota eventually got back on track with Kazuki Nakajima coming out of the pitlane in 47th place and 29 lap behind the leader.

No change in either LMGTE classes and the best WEC car in the Pro class continues to the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari of Jimmy Bruni in 27th overall. The nr50 Larbre Competition Corvette of Patrick Bornhauser is 34th overall and the leading WEC car in the GTE Am class ahead of the nr57 Krohn Racing Ferrari with team owner Tracey Krohn at the wheel.

1am and 10 hours into the race and the Audis are still 1-2-3 with the two R18 e-trons out front. The big news this hour is the nr35 Oak Racing Morgan-Judd and the nr24 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan both had long stops and finished the hour in 32nd and 29th overall respectively. The LMP2 lead is now held by Sebring class winners Starworks Motorsport with Ryan Dalziel 49 seconds ahead of the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca of Pierre Kaffer.

The nr74 Corvette is leading GTE Pro with Jimmy Bruni in the nr51 Ferrari in 2nd ahead of the nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari in 3rd. However the Corvette is slow on track after suffering a puncture and is limping back to the pits. The top WEC GTE Am car is still the nr50 Larbre Corvette which is 3 minutes behind the nr67 IMSA Performance Porsche.

12 hours and the half way point of the race. The nr1 Audi R18 e-tron has completed 187 laps and Marcel Fassler is 41 seconds ahead of the nr2 R18 Audi driven by Tom Kristensen. The nr4 Audi of Marco Bonanomi is in 3rd place 2 laps behind the lead car.

The Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyotas are still the lead privateers, with the nr12 car of Neel Jani in 4th, 6 laps behind and the nr13 Lola of Jeroen Bleekemolen in 5th two laps further back.

The Starworks Motorsport HPD-Honda is still in the lead of LMP2 in 7th overall, Tom Kimber-Smith lying 12 laps behind the leader and 2minutes ahead of the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan and 1 lap ahead of the nr26 Signatech Nissan Oreca.

The nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari is in the gravel at MP96 and is being dragged out by the recovery vehicles.

The nr51 AF Corse Ferrari of Toni Vilander is the current leader in the LMGTE Pro class, 2 minutes, 20 seconds ahead of the Luxury Racing Ferrari of Jaime Melo, with the nr97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner in 3rd.

The nr50 Larbre Corvette is still the lead WEC car in GTE Am, 39 seconds behind the nr67 IMSA Performance Porsche. The nr57 Krohn Racing Ferrari is currently 3rd in class, 3 laps behind the nr67 Porsche.

With 11 hours to go, the top three cars are still three Audis, with nr1 leading the field and Marcel Fässler has completed 208 laps. Allan McNish is second with the nr2 Audi, more than one minute behind the leader and Oliver Jarvis with the nr4 Audi is third.

The two Rebellion Racing Lolas-Toyotas are still leading the private teams.  Starworks Motorsport (nr 44 HPD), PeCOm Racing (nr49 Oreca)and Signatech-Nissan (nr26 Oreca) are still the top three cars in LMP2

In LMGTE Pro as well, the ranking hasn't changed: the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Toni Vilander, ahead of nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari and nr97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.  In LMGTE Am, the nr 50 Larbre Compétion is still second behind the nr67 Porsche, but Pedro Lamy is catching up on the leader.

The nr1 Audi spins off in the Karting curve. Marcel Fässler had to go back to the pits for a quick checking. Allan Mc Nish takes the lead with the nr2 Audi at 4:22.  André Lotterer took over from Marcel Fässler in the nr1 Audi when the Swiss driver stopped for checking.

Safety car at 4:51 after nr75 Prospeed Porsche (LMGTE Am) went off in the Porsche curves.

After 15 hours, the nr1 Audi driven by André Lotterer is leading again after the nr2 Audi pitted.   Dindo Capello, who turns 48 today, took over from Allan McNish.

The 2 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyotas still leads the private teams in LMP1.

In LMP2, the top three leaders are still the same: nr44 (Starworks) ahead of n49 (Pecom Racing) and nr26 (Signatech-Nissan).

8am and drama in the pits when the front left tyre of the nr61 AF Corse-Waltrip Ferrari caught fire. The front left had seized on the circuit and Brian Vickers was attempting to get back to the garage but on the entrance to the pitlane the tyre caught fire. The marshals extinguished the blaze quickly and Vickers got the car to the AF Corse mechanics.

The nr88 Felbermayr Porsche of Gianluca Roda stopped at MP44 and was pushed back behind the barriers by the marshals.

The lead Audi (nr1 Audi R18 e-tron) collided with the wall while avoiding a slower back marker. There was damage to the left rear of the Audi but Fassler kept the car on track until the schedule pitstop.

Loic Duval set the fastest lap of the race so far on Lap 256 with a lap time of 3:25.165

The nr44 Starworks Motorsport HPD-Honda of Tom Kimber-Smith is still leading the LMP2 class in 8th overall, 1 lap ahead of the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan.

The nr51 AF Corse Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella is in 19th overall and is leading the LMGTE Pro class by 2 laps.

The top WEC car in the LMGTE Am class is the nr50 Larbre Corvette of Julien Canal, 45 seconds behind the nr67 IMSA Performance Porsche.

9am and more drama on track after the nr2 Audi pits for fuel and rejoins just ahead of the nr1 Audi of Marcel Fassler. Fassler passes Kristensen but missed his braking point at the chicane and went across the gravel trap, rejoining the track behind the nr2 R18.

nr42 Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan (Martin Brundle) has an extended pitstop and rejoins after a few laps in the garage.

Loic Duval in the nr3 Audi sets a new race lap record three times during the past hour, once on lap 266, then on lap 268 and then set a 3:24.189 on lap 269.

The nr23 Signatech Nissan of Franck Mailleux went straight on at the first chicane on Mailleux's out lap. The car was pulled out of the gravel by the snatch vehicles.

The nr35 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan spun and rolled backwards at MP121. Car rejoined the track after a small delay.

The nr12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota is still the lead private LMP1 entry with Nick Heidfeld 9 laps behind the leading Audi.

The nr44 Starworks HPD is still the leader in LMP2 in 8th overall, with Tom Kimber-Smith 1 lap ahead of Soheil Ayari in the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan.

In LMGTE Pro the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari is still the class leader in 17th overall, Toni Vilander is 1 lap ahead of the nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari of Jaime Melo and 3 laps in front of the nr97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner.

Five hours to go to the end of the race and the nr2 Audi of Dindo Capello is leading after completing 298 laps as the the nr1 Audi pits. Audi are currently 1-2-3-4. The nr12 Rebellion is still the lead privateer but the nr13 Rebellion Lola-Toyota hit trouble on circuit and is currently in the garage, promoting the nr22 JRM HPD of Karun Chandhok into 6th overall and the second LMP1 private entry, 9 laps behind Nick Heidfeld in the lead car.

The nr17 Pescarolo Team Dome Judd is back in the garage with engine problems and the nr21 Strakka Racing HPD had a spin at the second chicane, with Danny Watts rejoining the track.

Ryan Dalziel is now at the wheel of the nr44 Starworks HPD in 7th overall and leading LMP2, 1 lap ahead of the nearest rival. The nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca went off into the gravel at Indianapolis and the car had to be recovered by the marshals before Soheil Ayari could rejoin the track 3rd in class, having lost a place to the nr46 TDS Racing Oreca-Nissan.

In LMGTE Pro It is still a Ferrari 1-2 with the nr51 AF Corse 458 of Toni Vilander still 1 lap ahead of the nr59 Luxury Racing 458 of Jaime Melo. Darren Turner, in the sole remaining Aston Martin, is a comfortable 3rd three laps behind Vilander.

The nr71 AF Corse Ferrari of Andrea Bertolini is in the garage and has been for a while and reports are suggesting it might be the end of the race for the Bertolini, Beretta and Cioci.

The battle of the race at the moment is between the nr50 Larbre Competition Chevolet Corvette C6-ZR1 driven by Pedro Lamy and the nr67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 RSR of Raymond Narac, with the gap just 6.2 seconds between the two cars.

The nr55 JWA-Avila Porsche had a long pitstop with the mechanics stripping the rear brake assembly in the pits.

After a pitstop for the nr67 IMSA Performance Porsche, Pedro Lamy is now leading the LMGTE Am class in the nr50 Larbre Competition Corvette in 23rd overall.

11am and the nr4 Audi is in trouble, Marco Bonanomi stopped by the side of the track at MP8. The Italian got the car going again and got back to the pits to hand over to Oliver Jarvis. However just as the hour finished the nr4 Audi was seen to be slowing on the entry to the first chicane. 

The nr1 Audi with Benoit Treluyer at the wheel is now leading the nr2 Audi of Allan McNish by 2.5 seconds.  The nr12 Rebellion Lola-Toyota of Neel Jani is currently 4th, 9 laps ahead of the nr22 JRM HPD and 11 laps ahead of the nr21 Strakka Racing HPD.

Starworks continue to hold the upper hand in LMP2 with Ryan Dalziel 1 lap ahead of Sohiel Ayari in the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca. The nr26 Signatech Nissan, driven by Roman Rusinov, had a puncture which spun the Oreca at the first chicane. The Russian driver recovered the car to the pits to hand over to Nelson Panciatici and rejoin in 4th in class and 11th overall.

A long stop for the nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari allowed the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari to open a 3 lap advantage in the LMGTE Pro class. Stefan Mucke in the nr97 Aston Martin is now just 1 lap behind the nr59 Ferrari on the road.

The nr50 Larbre Competition Corvette is still in charge in the LMGTE Am class and is now 40 seconds ahead of the nr67 Porsche.

Three hours to go and it is still a great battle for the lead between the two hybrid Audis with no team orders getting the way of this great race. Benoit Treluyer in the nr1 Audi is leading Allan McNish by 18.7 seconds following the latest pitstops. The nr4 Audi is 3rd 3 laps behind, with seemingly no repetition of the electrical problems the car had in the previous hour. Marc Gene is a further 5 laps back in 4th in the nr 3 Audi Ultra, but as the hour finished the Spanish driver runs off the circuit at the first chicane and hits the barriers causing a lot of front end damage in an almost carbon copy incident of Romain Dumas earlier in the race. Gene is attempting to get back to the pits but the front left wheel is vibrating badly.

Rebellion are still on track to take 50 points in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP1 Private Teams, with the nr22 JRM HPD of Karun Chandhok in 6th overall 9 laps further back. The nr21 Strakka Racing HPD is in the garage with engine problems caused by cooling issues.

In LMP2 it is still the nr44 Starworks HPD now with Tom Kimber-Smith back in the driving seat and holding a 1 lap advantage over his nearest rival.

In GTE Pro the situation hasn't changed in the last hour with the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari of Jimmy Bruni 2 laps ahead of the nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari of Fred Makowiecki and a further lap in front of the nr97 Aston Martin of Stefan Mucke.

In GTE Am Julien Canal in the nr50 Larbre Corvette is under severe pressure from Nicolas Armindo in the nr67 IMSA Performance Porsche. Armindo took the place on the hour but Canal is staging a fight back.

Two hours remaining and the nr1 Audi of Andre Lotterer is one lap ahead of the nearest rival following a trip to the wall at the Porsche Curves by the nr2 Audi of Allan McNish and the safety car was deployed. The Scot managed to get the car back to the garage and a six minute pitstop by the Audi mechanics to replace damaged bodywork got McNish back on track still in second place. The nr3 Audi is also back on track following its visit to the tyre wall at the first chicane with Marc Gene now in 5th 1 lap behind the the nr12 Rebellion Lola of Neel Jani, which is still the leading LMP1 private entry.

The nr44 Starworks Motorsport HPD continues to set the standard in LMP2, Tom Kimber-Smith 2 minutes 30seconds ahead of the nr46 TDS Racing Oreca of Christophe Tinseau.

In LMGTE Pro the top three places are unchanged but the nr97 Aston Martin of Stephane Mucke is now on the same lap as the nr59 Luxury Racing Ferrari in 2nd place. Jimmy Bruni continues to control the race with a 3 lap gap to the nr59 Ferrari and is in 17th overall. The top WEC car in GTE Am is still the nr50 Larbre Corvette in 22nd overall, 1 lap behind the nr67 IMSA Performance Porsche.

Chequered Flag and Audi take a historic 1-2-3 and Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel

Jeff Carter/Media Delegate-FIA/WEC.
Photos: MacLean Photographic.

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