HALFWAY AT LE MANS: AUDI STILL RUNNING 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....
HALFWAY AT LE MANS: AUDI STILL RUNNING 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."