Capello leads overall, GT1 battle erupts

While the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has settled into a solid, caution-free race, a number of great battles have started to develop in the four different categories. Up front, the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI of Dindo Capello continues to lead, holding a 30 second gap over the No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP of Nicolas Minassian, with Franck Montagny's No. 9 French Lion in third.

#2 Audi Sport North America Audi R10: Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.

But it was Alexander Wurz who laid down the race's quickest lap time so far, a 3:20.931. The No. 8 Peugeot has moved up to 17th overall after recovering from gearbox problems that kept the diesel machine in its garage for 20 minutes last hour.

The highest gasoline-powered LM P1 is now the No. 5 Team Oreca Matmut Courage-Oreca LC70 Judd of Laurent Groppi in sixth, who has taken advantage of the misfortunes of the Charouz Racing Systems Lola Aston Martin. Groppi runs two laps behind the leading diesel machine, but one lap ahead of the seventh-placed No. 17 Pescarolo Sport Judd.

In LM P2, the duel between the two Porsche RS Spyders continues as the Team Essex example of Sascha Maassen has taken the class lead, now inside the top-10 overall. Peter van Merksteijn in the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche runs second in class, 11th overall. Speedy Racing Team Sebah has moved up to third, one lap further back from the class leaders.

A four-way battle has erupted in LM GT1 involving the classic Corvette vs. Aston Martin rivalry. Darren Turner piloting the No. 009 Aston Martin Racing DBR9 leads, closely pursued by the No. 64 Corvette Racing C6.R as well as the two team's sister cars. The race for GT1 is still too close to call as the lead has swapped hands a number of times in the short running of the race so far.

The scope of the race in LM GT2 has become a little clearer following the retirement of the No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which collided with the No. 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche in hour two. The American team has rejoined after making repairs but lost one hour and 20 minutes, dropping the Lizards to 10th in class.

Leading GT2 is none other than Flying Lizard's main rival in the American Le Mans Series, the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT. Gianmaria Bruni is now at the helm of the red prancing horse, one minute ahead of the second-placed No. 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche.

Creation Autosportif continues to soldier through problems this hour while Chamberlain Synergy's Amanda Stretton got her Le Mans baptism by fire. Stretton suffered an apparent mechanical failure on her out lap, causing the No.19 Lola B06/10 AER to spin and make contact with the wall. After a valiant effort, Stretton got the car back to the pits nearly an hour after the accident.

Another retirement has been posted, joining the likes of Krohn Racing, Trading Performance and IMSA Performance Matmut. This time the No. 85 Snoras Spyker Squadron C8 Laviolette of Peter Dumbreck, Ralf Kelleners and Alexei Vasiliev, has dropped out due to engine failure.