LE MANS, France (June 16, 2012) – American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón teams hit trouble as the sun went down on the 80th 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both Corvette Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports lost the lead in their respective classes.
After working through two rear damper failures on the No. 80 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, its undoing came at the hands of another car. In Hour 10, as Patrick Long entered the Michelin Chicane, another competitor was rejoining the track from the runoff, dragging a sea of gravel with it. Long hit the gravel, spun and made contact with the tire wall. He was unable to return the car to pit lane, and the team officially retired the entry.
The No. 79 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which runs in the GTE Am class, currently runs 10th with Patrick Pilet behind the wheel.
Corvette Racing was hitting all its marks in the first half. The No. 74 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 held a comfortable lead in GTE Pro and the No. 73 Corvette ran anywhere from fifth to third. Things went wrong after a pit stop in Hour 10, when the No. 74 lost a wheel on its out lap and was forced to limp back to the pits on three wheels. The resulting damage had to be repaired in the garage. The team eventually sent the No. 74 back out in sixth.
Meanwhile, the No. 73, with Le Mans rookie Jordan Taylor behind the wheel, ran third just prior to the halfway point. The young American did a double stint during the evening hours.
“I’m extremely proud of what that young man has accomplished,” Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan said. “He’s come through a lot. This has probably been the biggest character-building experience of his life. I think he realizes the mountain he has to climb here and he appreciates that. I think he’s comfortable in the car and I think if you look at the lap times in this stint, you can see he’s consistently lapping at the same speed as the leaders. That I think is remarkable for a 21-year-old who has never been here.”
Just past the halfway mark, the No. 73 was in third in GTE Pro with Jan Magnussen behind the wheel and the No. 74 was shown in eighth after Richard Westbrook was forced off the road in the Porsche Chicanes, damaging the car’s nose and forcing another stop for repairs.
Level 5 Racing continued to run a steady P2 race, making fewer mistakes than its competitors. The No. 33 HPD ARX-03b is running strong with Luis Diaz behind the wheel in Hour 12. The trio of Christophe Bouchut, Scott Tucker and Diaz advanced the car to seventh in class.
The Nissan DeltaWing’s groundbreaking run at Le Mans came to a premature end. In the Hour Seven restart from full-course caution, the DeltaWing was hit by the No. 7 Toyota Racing Toyota Hybrid. The car slid off course and made contact with the wall. Driver Satoshi Motoyama was unable to get the car back to pit lane despite a valiant effort to repair the car on course.
Overall, the No. 1 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro driven by Benoit Treluyer led the No. 2 Audi E-Tron Quattro driven by Tom Kristensen by less than a minute.
For 24 Hours of Le Mans updates, keep checking ALMS.com, @ALMSnotes on Twitter and the Series’ official Facebook page. Official live timing and video is available at LeMans-TV.org.