24 Hours of Le Mans Live Race Blog – New Dawn, New Leader

June 13, 2010

24 Hours of Le Mans Live Race Blog – New Dawn, New Leader

June 13, 2010

After running in tandem all race, the demise of the leading Peugeots have vaulted the Audi R15 Plus TDIs to the lead at Le Mans in the 17th hour. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

20 Hour Update

Although there are still four hours left at Le Mans, that’s still an hour and 15 minutes more than a regular American Le Mans Series race (2 hours, 45 minutes).

Things changed drastically in the overall lead at the end of the last update, and in the last four hours even more bad luck has struck the ALMS teams.

Anthony Davidson passed Emmanuel Collard through the second series of Porsche Curves, but there was little room for both through the tight section and Collard’s Corvette spun off the right side of the road into the barriers. Davidson was substantially faster than anyone else on track in the No. 1 Peugeot, by several seconds.

It added insult to injury for the dominant team in GT2 this race, as Corvette also lost the No. 63 car with apparent engine failure. Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan reported it came without warning and was the first such issue in 11 years of the current Corvette program.

Highcroft Racing has also had to deal with a niggling water leak in its HPD ARX 01-c and has been into its garage for repairs. It’s taken the car out of second place in LMP2. Highcroft is working on repairs.

The hits keep on coming and so the lone full-season ALMS entrant still circulating is Drayson Racing’s Lola Judd Coupe, which driver Jonny Cocker described as running “the best it has” after comprehensive repairs.

Both Corvettes, Risi Ferraris, as well as the single Flying Lizard Porsche, RSR Jaguar and Michael Lewis/Autocon cars are all retired.

Class leaders are still the No. 9 Audi (Overall and LMP1), No. 42 Strakka HPD (LMP2), and No. 50 Saleen S7R (GT1). The No. 77 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche driven by factory Porsche drivers Wolf Henzler, Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb, has moved to the front of GT2 after Corvette’s woes.

16 Hour Update

The sun has emerged from the darkness. Night is in the rear view mirror as two-thirds of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, 16 hours, are complete. The cooler overnight temperatures are fading; Drayson Racing reported temperatures at ambient 52 degrees Fahrenheit and 55 degrees on track at ten minutes before 7:00 a.m. local time (1:00 a.m. ET).

As the temperatures rise, so do the tensions. There’s been a huge change in the order. Only moments before the 16-hour mark, class leaders were still the No. 2 Peugeot (Overall and LMP1), No. 42 Strakka HPD (LMP2), No. 64 Corvette C6 ZR1 (GT2) and No. 50 Saleen S7R (GT1), all Michelin technical partners.

But just past 7:00 a.m. local time, the No. 2 Peugeot stopped on track just past Terte Rouge with fire out the rear of the car. Peugeot Sport director Olivier Quesnel told Radio Le Mans’ radio coverage he did not know what has just put their second factory car out of contention, leaving just the No. 1 Peugeot with a chance at victory. A true heartbreak for the local favorites, the all-French lineup of Franck Montagny (driving), Stephane Sarrazin and Nicolas Minassian.

Audi now has the lead with Timo Bernhard in the No. 9 Audi over Benoit Treluyer in the No. 8. Those two have swapped spots in the last few hours. Marc Gene runs third in the No. 1 Peugeot, a lap behind the Audis.

Of the American Le Mans Series full-season entrants still on track, Corvette is having the most success by holding down positions 1-2 in GT2. Both Corvettes have just pitted and the No. 64 completed a brake change in addition to its usual round of changing drivers, adding fuel, and swapping sets of Michelin tires in just five minutes.

Drayson’s Lola Judd Coupe has returned to the track after nearly three hours in the garage rebuilding most of the car and completely fixing the fuel cell. Jonny Cocker had a snap spin at Indianapolis Corner, but recovered after and is back going.

The latest official retirement is another ALMS team, Risi Competizione’s second car, the Krohn Racing No. 83 lime green Ferrari F430 GT, with engine failure.

It’s now game on, officially, between Audi and Peugeot. The two diesel powerhouses of sportscar racing have eight hours to decide which one will survive the test. This latest sequence of events proves the 24-hour race is truly a marathon, not a sprint.

Official retirements (18) are: No. 2 Peugeot, No. 3 Peugeot, No. 5 Ginetta Zytek, No. 12 Lola Rebellion Coupe, No. 13 Lola Rebellion Coupe, No. 14 Kolles Audi R10 TDI, No. 19 Lola AER (LMP1), No. 29 Lola Judd Coupe, No. 38 Norma Judd (LMP2), No. 60 Ford GT, No. 61 Ford GT, No. 70 Ford GT (GT1), No. 79 BMW, No. 80 Flying Lizard Porsche, No. 81 RSR Jaguar, No. 82 Risi Ferrari, No. 83 Risi Ferrari, No. 92 Aston Martin Vantage (GT2).

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