Kristensen pulls out large early lead

Kristensen pulls out large early lead

The ...

The #2 Audi Sport North America R10 TDI driven by Tom Kristensen led the #8 Peugeot of Pedro Lamy by two and a half minutes after four hours of the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours as the Audi driver continued his mammoth stint behind the wheel.

The Safety Car remained out for over an hour so that the barrier at Tetre Rouge could be repaired after Rockenfeller's earlier accident, and nearby the German frantically worked on his Audi trying to get it in a state where he could at least drive back to the pits.

During this time there was another brief shower and this caused a series of spins. The #73 Team Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C5-R of Didier Andre went off at the first corner and the #15 Charouz Racing System Lola-Judd B07 of Alex Yoong spun off into the gravel on the entrance to the pitlane.

The #2 Audi had a slightly unusual pitstop as the rear bodywork was removed and the mechanics briefly worked on the left-rear area of Kristensen's car.

The Safety Car finally pulled into the pitlane shortly before the end of the third hour and the leading Audi was nearly 90 seconds ahead of the #8 Peugeot of Pedro Lamy in second place, which was 25 seconds ahead of Marc Gene in the sister #7 Peugeot.

The #63 Team Corvette Racing C6-R of Jan Magnussen got the jump on the #009 Aston Martin of Darren Turner at the restart and took the lead of the GT1 class. Turner kept in touch though and took back the place a couple of laps later. Enge was running about half a minute behind in the #007 Aston Martin.

The #16 Pescarolo of Jean-Christophe Boullion hugely benefited from the Safety Car periods, and strong work by the pit crew, to run in fourth position just ten seconds behind the #7 Peugeot of Gene. Boullion pitted on lap 44 and rejoined behind the #1 Audi of Pirro up to third.

Start: #8 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908: Pedro Lamy, St?phane Sarrazin, S?bastien Bourdais and #2 Audi Sport North America Audi R10: Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello battle.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Kristensen was initially running seven seconds a lap quicker than Lamy, and the two drivers were the only ones lapping in under four minutes, however the lap times soon stabilised. As the track dried the times fell and the #2 Audi was always on the pace, often six or seven seconds quicker than Lamy, and then Pirro in the #1 Audi them put in a strong charge to try to close the 30-second cap to Lamy.

Warren Hughes in the #40 had a very comfortable lead in front of the LMP2 class. He pitted to hand over to Miguel Amaral and resumed two minutes ahead of the pursuing #31 Team Binnie Motorsports Lola-Zytek of Allen Timpany.

There was a very intense battle at the tail of the LMP1 class as the #15 Charouz Racing System Lola-Judd B07-17 of Stefan Mucke dived past the #13 Courage Competition AER LC70 of Stefan Johansson and started setting personal fastest laps while chasing the #12 Courage ahead. Sadly all this good work was wasted when there was a brief fire as the car was being refuelled. The pit crew extinguished the flames and Mucke jumped back in the car as the mechanics checked over the car. Mucke was taken out the car for checks, although he appeared fine, and Jan Charouz took over at the wheel.

Near the end of the fourth hour Andy Wallace went off in the #25 Team RML Ray Mallock Lola-AER B05-40 in the Porsche curves and damaged the rear of the car. The car was towed out of the gravel and Wallace set about trying to start the car.

The #93 Team Autorlando Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Lars Nielsen maintained the lead of the LMGT2 category with a small gap over the #97 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT driven by Mika Salo.

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Series LEMANS