After 12 hours: Aston Martin in the thick of the battle
David Brabham, currently at the wheel of the 009 DBR9, is competing on his 15th Le Mans 24 Hours this year, but he says that he cannot remember any event that has been closer.
With the halfway point of the race just gone, the gap between 009 in the lead and the second-placed Corvette in GT1 is just over half a minute, with around 2000 kilometres of competition already completed.
"I honestly can't remember anything like it," said Brabham. "Having said that, I knew it would be like this before coming here. From a sporting point of view it's a fantastic competition, but it really means that we have to keep on pushing, all the time. Every lap feels like a qualifying lap. If it carries on like this, we'll still be fighting for the lead on the final lap."
Brabham took over the DBR9 from Darren Turner, who did what was effectively a quadruple stint at around midnight.
The second DBR9, numbered 007, is still holding third place in the capable hands of Andrea Piccini, who qualified the car. Neither DBR9 has suffered any mechanical problem so far, despite the fact that both crews are having to push hard.
The Aston Martin-powered LMP1 prototype is also going well and is still the fastest petrol-powered car, lapping between three and five seconds faster than its closest petrol rival. "It's all coming together well," said Stefan Mucke, one of the three drivers. "The reliability has been very good in the race, so I think we can be very pleased by what we have achieved so far."
George Howard-Chappell, the Team Principal of Aston Martin Racing, concluded: "We're obviously very pleased by the way that the race has started but we have to remember that we are only halfway through: we have to do it all over again. The advantage that we have is negligible and anything can still happen, particularly as we are expecting rain at some point later this morning."
The Team Modena DBR9 is still sixth in GT1 after a trouble-free stint, and is currently being driven by Christian Fittipaldi.