With nine hours now in the books, Team Peugeot Total's Nicolas Minassian now leads the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Frenchman's No. 7 Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP has completed 152 laps, holding a one-minute plus lead over the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI of Allan McNish at the wheel.
But there was drama for the now race-leading No. 7 Peugeot before Minassian got behind the wheel. Early in the hour,co-driver Marc Gene had a scary moment as he missed the pit lane entrance, having to crawl through the grass and gravel to get back onto pit road. The incident didn't cost the car too much time, though.
After Christian Klien's off last hour, the No. 9 Peugeot sits in third, one lap back on the overall race leader. The No. 3 Audi of Lucas Luhr is in fourth with the No. 1 Audi of Emanuele Pirro rounding out the top-five overall and in LM P1.
Jos Verstappen in the No. 34 Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche RS Spyder leads LM P2, holding a one-lap lead over the Team Essex Porsche after its puncture last hour. The Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola B08/80 Judd sits in a solid third, running 15th overall.
Mike Newton in the RML MG Lola EX265 suffered a scary crash exiting the Porsche Curves, with the car becoming airborne and landing right side up. Newton limped P2 contender back to the pits, but the team struggled to get it back into the garage for repairs.
The LM GT1 battle continued to intensify, with the No. 63 Corvette Racing C6.R of Ron Fellows leading the way, ahead of the two Aston Martin Racing DBR9s. The No. 64 Corvette runs in fourth, but two laps back on the leaders because of a lengthy pit stop a few hours ago for alternator issues.
In LM GT2, it's an all-Ferrari affair as the prancing horses now occupy the top-five positions. And it's still the No. 62 Risi Competizione F430 GT of Mika Salo showing its muscle up front. Salo holds a one-lap lead over the No. 96 Virgo Motorsport example, with the No. 97 BMS Scuderia Italia machine one further lap back in third.
"It was getting a bit hard in the last stint, when it was completely dark but otherwise the car is going very well and is very well balance," Jaime Melo, Salo's co-driver said. "The Michelin tires have been very consistent for the triple stint and so far, so good. In the traffic, itUs quite hard to get through - especially the slower prototypes - but everything is going okay. I hope we can finish the race in the same position as now."
The two remaining Porsches, the No. 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton and No. 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports entry, have both been heavily delayed with clutch and radiator/crash damage respectively. Additionally, both of the Spykers have retired as well.
Other recent retirements include the No. 53 Vitaphone Racing Aston Martin, No. 78 AF Corse Ferrari (driveshaft) and the No. 19 Chamberlain-Synergy Lola B06/10 AER (engine).