LeMans Halfway: Audi still 1-2
Audi is halfway home to another victory at Le Mans. Tom Kristensen held a three-lap lead on the sister car of Marco Werner after 12 hours at the world’s most famous auto race. Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello have dominated so far as the German manufacturer looks to win Le Mans again with diesel power.
The leading Audi had been out front for all but two laps in the first half of the race. As the night progressed, Audi began to triple-stint their drivers as it continued to put pressure on diesel challenger Peugeot as well as the lead Pescarolo. Uncertainty remained however as rain still loomed in the forecast for Sunday.
It was Capello who made a storming start to assume the lead on the opening lap. The first and second place showings helped take away the sting of Mike Rockenfeller’s wreck that forced the retirement of the third Audi in the second hour.
“It is such a surprise that we are quicker,” Capello said. “After the start and in the conditions, I was surprised we pulled away from the Peugeot and our sister car. No one had the chance to test in the dry conditions. We were a little afraid because we didn't know how good our car would be. But it looks like we have the best car. Our setup is good for any condition. If it gets wet any longer we will need more downforce.”
Werner was a full three laps up on Jacques Villeneuve in the lead Peugeot for second place.
Risi Competizione and its Ferrari F430 GT entered the halfway point with a two-lap over the IMSA Matmut Porsche of Patrick Long, America’s lone Porsche factory driver. Mika Salo was turning laps in the 4:06 range to keep the Porsche at bay.
The other Risi entry, the No. 99 driven by Tracy Krohn, was fifth in class. Defending class champion Team LNT was eighth with in a Panoz Esperante GTLM after the No. 82 car had to replace the rear halfshaft early on. Other than that, it was a trouble-free run.
The Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche retired with a broken driveline near the 10-hour mark. The other LNT Panoz lost a gearbox just past the three-hour mark.
In GT1, Aston Martin’s two factory Aston Martin DBR9s led the way in GT1 with Peter Kox leading Rickard Rydell by 30 seconds. Corvette Racing’s lone remaining Corvette C6.R of Ron Fellows was still on the lead lap and very much in the race.
The No. 63 Corvette was on its own following the retirement of the sister car of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Max Papis. Gavin was at the wheel when the car’s propshaft failed nearly two hours in. Gavin tried to bring the car back using the starter motor but wasn’t allowed to by the course marshals.
In LMP2, the Barazi Epsilon works Zytek 07S/2 with Adrian Fernandez was running fourth in class and six laps behind the leading Lola-Zytek from Binnie Motorsports. The Zytek lost time due to two separate unscheduled stops, the latest being one to assess and fix a fuel pressure problem.
Fernandez, who qualified and started on the P2 pole in his Le Mans debut, pitted near the 7:30 mark with a leak, fortunately during a safety car period.
“The car is working fantastically,” he said. “My feet were starting to get brake fluid on them so I knew there was a leak. The yellow came at the right time because we would have lost a lot of time.”
Pos # Class Drivers Car Laps
1. 2 LMP1 Capello, McNish, Kristensen Audi R10 TDI 184 Laps
2. 1 LMP1 Biela, Pirro, Werner Audi R10 TDI 182 Laps
3. 7 LMP1 Minassian, Gene, Villeneuve Peugeot 908 179 Laps
4. 16 LMP1 Collard, Boullion, Dumas Pescarolo-Judd 01 178 Laps
5. 8 LMP1 Sarrazin, Lamy, Bourdais Peugeot 908 175 Laps
6. 15 LMP1 Charouz, Yoong, Mucke Lola-Judd B07-17 1:15.914
7. 18 LMP1 Short, Barbosa, Hall Pescarolo-Judd 01 172 Laps
8. 007 LMGT1 Herbert, Enge, Kox Aston Martin DBR9 169 Laps
9. 009 LMGT1 Turner, Brabham, Rydell Aston Martin DBR9 23.360
10. 63 LMGT1 Fellows, O'Connell, Magnussen Corvette C6-R 168 Laps
11. 008 LMGT1 Bouchut, Gollin, Elgaard Aston Martin DBR9 167 Laps
12. 100 LMGT1 Babini, Davies, Malucelli Aston Martin DBR9 166 Laps
13. 55 LMGT1 Ortelli, Ayari, Lapierre Saleen S7R 3:05.265
14. 54 LMGT1 Prost, Groppi, Belloc Saleen S7R 165 Laps
15. 31 LMP2 Binnie, Timpany, Buncombe Lola-Zytek B05-40 164 Laps
16. 72 LMGT1 Alphand, Policano, Goueslard Corvette C6-R 6.867
17. 97 LMGT2 Melo, Salo, Mowlem Ferrari 430 GT 161 Laps
18. 13 LMP1 Marc Gounon, Moreau, Johansson Courage-AER LC70 160 Laps
19. 73 LMGT1 Vosse, Andre, Blanchemain Corvette C5-R 159 Laps
20. 35 LMP2 Nicolet, Filhol, Jouanny Courage-AER LC75 54.422
21. 24 LMP2 Petrov, Halliday, Iannetta Courage-AER LC75 158 Laps
22. 67 LMGT1 Pergl, Vasiliev, Kostka Ferrari 550 Maranello 18:26.652
23. 76 LMGT2 Narac, Lietz, Long Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 20:42.984
24. 33 LMP2 Kurosawa, Fernandez, Kerr Zytek 07S/2 21:29.047
25. 87 LMGT2 Kirkaldy, Mullen, Niarchos Ferrari F430 GTC 21:37.953
26. 93 LMGT2 Ehret, Erik Nielsen, Simonsen Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 22:52.410
27. 99 LMGT2 Jonsson, Krohn, Braun Ferrari 430 GT 156 Laps
28. 14 LMP1 Lammers, Bleekemolen, Hart Dome-Judd S101 154 Laps
29. 32 LMP2 Barazi, Vergers, Ojjeh Zytek 07S/2 153 Laps
30. 59 LMGT1 Garcia, Fittipaldi, Menten Aston Martin DBR9 152 Laps
31. 12 LMP1 Frei, Cochet, Besson Courage-AER LC70 39:53.984
32. 78 LMGT2 Macari, Aucott, Newey Ferrari 430 GT 42:02.617
33. 70 LMGT1 Gosselin, Peter, Smet Corvette C6-R 151 Laps
34. 83 LMGT2 Marsh, Diez Villaroel, Rosenblad Ferrari F430 GT 150 Laps
35. 25 LMP2 Newton, Erdos, Wallace Lola-AER B05-40 149 Laps
36. 82 LMGT2 Dean, Tomlinson, Bell Panoz Esperante GTLM 20.907
37. 006 LMGT1 Fiskin, Bornhauser, Berville Aston Martin DBR9 38.165
38. 85 LMGT2 Chiesa, Caffi, Belicchi Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 145 Laps
39. 17 LMP1 Primat, Tinseau, Treluyer Pescarolo-Judd 01 143 Laps
40. 19 LMP1 Berridge, Evans, Owen Lola-AER B06-10 142 Laps
41. 40 LMP2 Amaral, Angel de Castro, Hughes Lola-AER B05-40 137 Laps
42. 80 LMGT2 van Overbeek, Neiman, Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 124 Laps
43. 20 LMP2 Rostan, Macallister, Pickering Pilbeam-Judd MP93 114 Laps
44. 44 LMP2 Burgess, Siedler, de Pourtales Pescarolo-Judd 01 98 Laps
45. 86 LMGT2 Kane, Janis, Hezemans Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 70 Laps
46. 71 LMGT2 Felbermayr, Felbermayr Jr, Collin Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 68 Laps
47. 5 LMP1 Fassler, Deletraz, Alexander-David Lola-Audi B07-10 62 Laps
48. 9 LMP1 Campbell-Walter, Ortiz, Nakano Creation-Judd CA07 55 Laps