RAIN PLAYS HAVOC AT THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD It's almost dawn at Le Mans, but the conditions have taken a turn for the worse since the arrival of heavy rain shortly after 4am. A charge from the N2 Audi in the wet has succeeded in dislodging...
RAIN PLAYS HAVOC AT THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD
It's almost dawn at Le Mans, but the conditions have taken a turn for the worse since the arrival of heavy rain shortly after 4am. A charge from the N2 Audi in the wet has succeeded in dislodging the No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP from the provisional lead, while the N3 Audi has succeeded in easing past the No.9 Peugeot into 3rd place. The No.8 Peugeot is back up to 6th place.
The leading car (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP No.7) completed its 200th lap at 3.04am with Villeneuve at the wheel.
At 3.54am the No.7 car is pushed into its garage to have its radiators cleaned. At the pitlane exit, it is held up a few seconds by the red light and the N2 Audi goes in front. However, the Audi pits at 4.07am handing the lead back to Villeneuve who pulls out a gap of a minute again.
Rain makes an appearance over the circuit at 4.12am and causes havoc. The front-runners pit for tyres but there is uncertainty about whether intermediates are best suited, or full wets. Zonta comes in for intermediates for the No.9 Peugeot but pits two laps later after a spin for full wets. Villeneuve is on rain tyres, too, while Sarrazin is on intermediates. Zonta and Sarrazin would later switch to rain tyres. Villeneuve's lead is being whittled away fast by the N2 Audi, while at 4.34am the N3 Audi passes the No.9 Peugeot into 3rd place.
At 5am, the order is Villeneuve / Audi N2 +17.285s / Audi N3 + 1 lap / Zonta + 1 lap. At 5.17am, Villeneuve pits to hand over to Gene, and the N2 Audi passes into the lead again. Sarrazin comes in a little ahead of schedule at 5.32am to hand over to Wurz because he has oil and water on his screen and can't see very much from his closed cockpit.
Pedro LAMY (No.8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, 3.25am):
"Despite losing so much time, it was an interesting challenge so long as we had a target to aim for, i.e. the Audi ahead of us. But then we lost more time with our electrical problem and fell back a few places again; that was very hard on morale."
Jacques VILLENEUVE (No.7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, at 5.30am):
"We started to have an overheating problem shortly after I got into the car. We managed to fix that, and then it started to rain. I pitted for rain tyres but they were cold and it took some time to get heat into them, so that was difficult. There was a kind of a dry line but the conditions were inconsistent and it only had to start raining a little more heavily somewhere and it was difficult to know what to expect. I knew Tom Kristensen was closing on me and, having been his team-mate once many years ago, I knew he could be very, very quick in the wet."