Audi continues alone up front

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Audi continues alone up front

The sole ...

The sole #1 Audi continued at the front with six hours to go in the Le Mans 24 Hours, four laps ahead of the closest Peugeot and lapping at an identical pace. The #2 Audi had crashed at high speed after the left-rear wheel detached itself from the car.

The accident of the #2 Audi had a significant long-term effect on the remainder of the race. At the time of the retirement the #2 car was the quickest car and had a several-lap lead over the #1 Audi, which was lapping slightly slower but still running strongly and had the potential to act as a buffer to the pursuing Peugeots if required.

#1 Audi Sport North America Audi R10: Marco Werner, Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro.
Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt.

Once the #2 car left the track the lead was handed to the slower Audi, the #1 car, at a time when the Peugeots were lapping considerably quicker. This put the #1 Audi under pressure as it was Audi's only representative in the race and was being caught.

The gap between the leading Audi and the following Peugeot remained at four laps, a distance too great to make up on the track in the remaining six hours, but nonetheless put the leading car under pressure as a significant problem or delay would put the car directly in the clutches of the chasing Peugeots without any defence.

Emanuele Pirro took over at the wheel of the sole Audi, while Marc Gene remained behind the wheel of the #7 Peugeot in second place and Pedro Lamy in control of the #8 Peugeot in third place. Jean-Christophe Boullion recovered from his car's earlier incident to get the #16 Pescarolo Sport Judd 01 back up to fourth place.

The third-placed LMGT2 car picked up a right-front puncture and Lars Erik Nielsen carefully drove the #93 Team Autorlando Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR back to the pitlane with damaged bodywork, promoting the #99 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT of Tracy Krohn to third place in the class.

Tim Mullen, the leader of the LMGT2 class in the #87 Team Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari F430 GTC, then suddenly slowed and pulled off the circuit along the Hunaudieres straight. He was passed by the #76 Imsa Performancec Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Richard Lietz, which had initially led the class at the start of the race.

Jan Charouz had a big moment in his #15 Charouz Racing System Lola-Judd B07-17 when he braked for Indianapolis. The right-rear tyre worked loose and sent him into a violent spin across the gravel. Charouz rejoined the track and was then hit by the tyre that had detached itself, and then he slowly toured round back to the pitlane.

The #7 Peugeot made another unexpected stop with tape being applied to the front of the car and some adjustments being made to the aerodynamics. Gene rejoined still in second place and two laps ahead of Pedro Lamy in the #8 Peugeot.

The #97 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT driven by Jaime Melo, Mika Salo and Johnny Mowlem officially retired from the race with water pump failure.

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Series LEMANS