Peugeot sets early pace at Le Mans

Peugeot sets early pace at Le Mans

The opening hour of the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has gone relatively uneventful, with Peugeot pulling out to an early 1-2-3 lead. The No. 8 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP of Pedro Lamy led the 55-strong field to the start...

The opening hour of the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has gone relatively uneventful, with Peugeot pulling out to an early 1-2-3 lead. The No. 8 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP of Pedro Lamy led the 55-strong field to the start at 3:00 p.m., and has been up front for the majority of the hour.

Start: #8 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908: Pedro Lamy, St?phane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz, #9 Peugeot Sport Total Peugeot 908: Franck Montagny, Ricardo Zonta, Christian Klien, #7 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908: Marc Gene, Nicolas Minassian, Jacques Villeneu.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

With 32 minutes complete, Lamy pitted his Peugeot for fuel-only, and Frank Biela in the sixth-placed No. 1 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI came in at the same time for service. One lap later on lap 10, the remaining two Peugeots dived in for fuel-only as well, as did the No. 3 Audi of Lucas Luhr. Allan McNish briefly led overall before coming in for service himself.

The order remained the same upfront following the early pit stops, with Lamy leading teammates Franck Montagny and Nicolas Minassian. McNish, Luhr and Biela rounding out the top-six. Jean-Christophe Boullion in the No. 16 Pescarolo Sport Judd runs in seventh, the best of the gasoline-powered LM P1s. Ten cars remain on the lead lap.

In LM P2, Jereon Bleekamolen in the No. 34 Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche RS Spyder leading the way, but is neck-and-neck with the No. 31 Team Essex Porsche of Casper Elgaard. During its first stop, the Michelin-shod Van Merksteijn machine stayed on its tires but the Team Essex example took on new Dunlops as well as refueled.

The major drama of the hour came on lap 8 when Tommy Erdos in the No. 25 RML MG Lola EX265 was hit from behind by Greg Pickett's Cytosport Lola B07/10 Judd while entering the Playstation Chicane, sending the Brazilian hard into the barriers. The British Lola suffered major front-end nose and suspension damage, taking Erdos nearly ten minutes to return to the pits for repairs.

The No. 63 Corvette Racing C6.R of pole-sitter Jan Magnussen leads LM GT1, ahead of the sister machine of Oliver Gavin, with David Brabham's No. 009 Aston Martin Racing DBR9 in third.

In LM GT2, Patrick Long in the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 GT3 RSR leads, a remarkable feat considering the car started from the rear of the grid at the start. The pole-sitting entry relinquished its top spot following apparent illegal modifications made to the car while on the grid. However, Long got the car up to fifth by lap 3 and put it in the lead just before the end of the first hour.

On top of Erdos' early crash, a number of other cars have run into trouble, including the No. 22 Tokai University Courage YGK, No. 41 Trading Performance Zytek 07S (misfire), No. 55 IPB Spartak Racing Lamborghini Murcielago (gearbox) and the No. 83 Risi Competizione/Krohn Racing Ferrari F430 GT (crash, with rear-end damage). All of these cars are currently parked in the garage.

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Series LEMANS