24 Hours of Le Mans Live Race Blog – The Start

June 12, 2010

24 Hours of Le Mans Live Race Blog – The Start

June 12, 2010

Cars pass under the Michelin bridge. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Four hour update

Four hours are complete in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with clear skies and rain not in the immediate forecast. While most of the leads have remained stable, a number of cars have hit problems.

The polesitting No. 3 Peugeot in the hands of Sebastien Bourdais, Pedro Lamy and ALMS regular Simon Pagenaud has retired. The team suffered a failure with the suspension pickup point, Radio Le Mans reported on its coverage.

Drayson Racing’s No. 11 Lola Judd Coupe has been in-and-out of its garage. Jonny Cocker took over from team owner/driver Paul Drayson to check for a vibration source. Emanuele Pirro returned to the track with the tail of the car fixed. Drayson’s post-stint interview to Radio Le Mans was sincerely enthusiastic as he beamed about his first opportunity to pilot the prototype in the Le Mans race.

Several other cars have had offs, notably the No. 70 Marc VDS Race Team Ford GT which suffered significant rear end damage, the No. 79 BMW Motorsport BMW M3, the “art car,” which reportedly had a puncture but has since returned, and the No. 85 Spyker which is in its garage for rear end repairs.

On-track, teams are still looking to triple and quadruple-stint their tires, and they will correspondingly change drivers at those times. Each pit stop requires a fuel refill.

A pit stop for the No. 8 Audi went awry as the car entered and struck a reporter in the pits. Safety workers were getting to the scene at post time, and Radio Le Mans is reporting the individual has shoulder injuries as a result.

Peugeot still leads with the No. 2 entry, now in the hands of Stephane Sarrazin, overall and in LMP1. The Strakka HPD leads LMP2 and the Matech Ford GT in GT1.

GT2 sees Corvette Racing now positions two and three, behind the No. 82 Risi Ferrari. Jaime Melo put in a barnburner of a first stint starting 17th in class and last overall, the “rosso” red Ferrari F430 GT, up to second in class by the end of his stint. Gianmaria Bruni has taken over and now leads.

Four cars are officially retired: the No. 3 Peugeot, No. 5 Ginetta Zytek, No. 19 Michael Lewis/Autocon Lola AER, and No. 81 RSR Jaguar.

Race Start

10:00 a.m. ET The 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans kicked off under heavy clouds but no rain. Immediately one of the American Le Mans Series regulars hit trouble, as the Michael Lewis/Autocon Lola AER pulled off just past Arnage corner with gearbox problems.

Another prototype bit the dust not long after. One of the more notable cars in the field, the Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek, has also retired from the race. Nigel Mansell, the 1992 Formula One World Champion, had a hard impact on the run to Indianapolis corner, losing control and backing into the barriers. It ends the team’s run with Mansell and his two sons, Greg and Leo.

The RSR Jaguar in GT2 has also been into the pits with apparent electrical issues.

Mansell’s accident brought out the series of three safety cars, which came out and split up the leading four Peugeots from the Audis in different queues. Nearly one minute separated the two diesel powerhouses as the field resumed under green.

At the end of the first hour, leaders are the No. 3 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (LMP1 and overall), No. 42 Strakka Racing HPD ARX 01-c (LMP2), No. 64 Corvette Racing C6 ZR1 (GT2) and No. 60 Matech Competition Ford GT (GT1).

Most of the field is in for their first round of pit stops.

michelinracingusa.com has Radio Le Mans’ live commentary with John Hindhaugh and crew to listen to the race telecast live.

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