24 Hours of LeMans underway, Toyota leads

Sunshine, a clear blue sky, and hundreds of thousands of spectators welcomed this afternoon’s start of the 82nd edition of the 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans). For the 54 teams and 162 drivers taking part in the 2014 race, this immense endurance challenge is now fully underway: concentration, precision, good decision making are key requirements from now until tomorrow afternoon’s finish. The 24 Heures du Mans, held on the 13.629km Circuit de la Sarthe, was first run in 1923 and is organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). Rolex has been the Official Timepiece since 2001.

Following the traditional Saturday pre-race routine: the warm up laps, grid walk and ceremonies, the iconic Rolex clock ticked down for the 15:00 CEST start. Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso had the honor of unfurling the famous tricolor start flag as the 54 competing cars (9 in LM P1, 17 in LM P2, 8 in GTE Pro and 19 in GTE Am in addition to the innovative technology entry from Nissan) commenced motorsport’s most famous and revered endurance race.

In LM P1, the three-way battle for the overall title, already provided compelling viewing during qualifying. Toyota Racing #7 began today’s race in pole with Austrian Alexander Wurz, two-time winner of the race, handed the responsibility of driving the first shift. Toyota, four-time 24 Heures du Mans runner-up, is pursuing its first LM P1 victory. The Japanese manufacturer’s second car, #8, with Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel, commenced third on the grid. Toyota are the form team going into the competition but face a stern examination of their ambitions from defending champion Audi and 16-time winner Porsche, returning to LM P1 for the first time since 1998. All three teams are aware that in 24-hour racing, there formbook counts for very little.

Porsche Team #14, second in qualification, began with Swiss Neel Jani taking the first shift while German Timo Bernhard got Porsche Team #20, fourth on the grid, in motion. Defending champions Audi’s three-car R18 e-tron quattro line-up started fifth, sixth and seventh. The team has lived up to its slogan #welcomechallenges this week, having completely rebuild its car #1 following a violent crash in Wednesday’s practice. Rolex Testimonee and record nine-time race winner Tom Kristensen got Audi Sport Team Joest #1 started. “It was a great challenge (getting the car ready) and a lot to take in during the last two days here. The car feels really good and after optimizing it some more, it will be really good for the race start. Le Mans is always the biggest challenge of the year for everyone here. The start is something special," said Kristensen.

POSITIONS AFTER 1 HOUR

Pos Cl Car Drivers Laps Behind
1 LMP1 #7 Toyota Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima 16 +0.000s
2 LMP1 #2 Audi Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer 16 +36.391s
3 LMP1 #3 Audi Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis 16 +38.701s
4 LMP1 #8 Toyota Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi 16 +39.577s
5 LMP1 #1 Audi Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen 16 +1m16.613s
6 LMP1 #20 Porsche Bernhard/Webber/Hartley 16 +1m17.368s
7 LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost/Heidfeld/Beche 15 +1 Lap
8 LMP1 #13 Rebellion Kraihamer/Belicchi/Leimer 15 +1m26.536s
9 LMP2 #47 Oreca Howson/Bradley/Imperatori 15 +1m55.616s
10 LMP2 #35 Ligier Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy 15 +2m10.757s
11 LMP2 #46 Ligier Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy 15 +2m15.179s
12 LMP2 #38 Zytek Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey 15 +2m16.947s
13 LMP2 #34 Oreca Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster 15 +2m17.769s
14 LMP2 #24 Oreca Rast/Charouz/Capillaire 15 +2m19.281s
15 LMP2 #26 Morgan Rusinov/Pla/Canal 15 +2m22.092s
16 LMP2 #48 Oreca Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok 15 +2m23.750s
17 LMP2 #36 Alpine Chatin/Panciatici/Webb 15 +2m26.955s
18 LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng/Tung/Fong 15 +2m48.507s
19 LMP2 #43 Morgan Klien/Hirsch/Brandela 15 +2m49.754s
20 LMP2 #41 Zytek Munemman/Latif/Winslow 15 +2m58.335s
21 LMP2 #50 Morgan Ragues/Taylor/Ihara 15 +3m10.372s
22 LMP2 #29 Morgan Schell/Leutwiller/Roussel 14 +2 Laps
23 LMP2 #42 Zytek Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson 14 +1.959s
24 GTEP #51 Ferrari Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella 14 +1m39.361s
25 GTEP #74 Chevrolet Gavin/Milner/Westbrook 14 +1m41.271s
26 GTEP #73 Chevrolet Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor 14 +1m42.973s
27 GTEA #66 Ferrari Al Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly 14 +1m46.558s
28 GTEA #76 Porsche Narac/Armindo/Hallyday 14 +1m47.156s
29 GTEP #97 Aston Turner/Mucke/Senna 14 +1m54.429s
30 GTEA #81 Ferrari Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird 14 +1m55.225s
31 GTEP #92 Porsche Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz 14 +1m57.136s
32 GTEA #72 Ferrari Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov 14 +2m04.794s
33 GTEA #95 Aston Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim 14 +2m05.054s
34 GTEP #91 Porsche Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy 14 +2m11.179s
35 GTEA #90 Ferrari Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti 14 +2m13.785s
36 GTEA #98 Aston Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard 14 +2m23.957s
37 GTEP #52 Ferrari Griffin/Parente/Leo 14 +2m26.268s
38 GTEA #60 Ferrari Mann/Case/Giammaria 14 +2m27.148s
39 GTEA #88 Porsche Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi 14 +2m30.213s
40 GTEP #71 Ferrari Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta 14 +2m33.689s
41 GTEA #77 Porsche Dempsey/Foster/Long 14 +2m34.429s
42 GTEA #53 Ferrari Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton 14 +2m43.853s
43 GTEA #58 Ferrari Barthez/Pons/Ayari 14 +2m46.397s
44 GTEA #67 Porsche Maris/Merlin/Helary 14 +2m50.045s
45 GTEA #57 Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Collins 14 +3m11.042s
46 GTEA #61 Ferrari Perez-Companc/Cioci/Venturi 13 +3 Laps
47 GTEA #75 Porsche Perrodo/Collard/Palttala 13 +2m35.022s
48 GTEA #70 Ferrari Nakano/Ehret/Rich 13 +2m51.506s
49 GTEA #62 Ferrari Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank 13 +5m35.566s
50 GTEP #79 Porsche MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen 12 +4 Laps
51 LMP1 #14 Porsche Dumas/Jani/Lieb 11 +5 Laps
52 LMP2 #37 Oreca Ladygin/Minassian/Mediani 9 +7 Laps
53 LMP2 #27 Oreca Zlobin/Salo/Ladygin 8 +8 Laps
54 CDNT #0 Nissan Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama 5 +11 Laps

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