Rockenfeller crashes Team Joest Audi

Audi continued to lead the Le Mans 24 Hours after two hours with Tom Kristensen ahead in the ...

Audi continued to lead the Le Mans 24 Hours after two hours with Tom Kristensen ahead in the #2 Audi and Pirro following in the #1 but the third car, the #3 Audi Sport Team Joest, had a big accident and dropped out of contention.

Mike Rockenfeller, in the #3 Audi, went off the circuit at Tetre Rouge on lap 23. The German driver, who was running in fifth place at the time and had just set the car's fastest lap of the race, left off the circuit at high speed at Tetre Rouge early into the lap.

There was significant damage to the back of the car, particularly around the right hand side, and also to the crash barrier on the outside of the circuit. Rockenfeller was able to get out of the car and set about trying to get it in a drivable state to return to the pits.

The second hour started with heavy rain, which caused the deployment of the Safety Car, and this prompted some of the teams to pit for wet weather tyres. The shower was brief however and the track soon dried as the cars toured slowly around.

There was a minor collision in the pits with the #24 Noel Del Bello Courage-AER LC75 driven by Elisabeth Halliday clipping the back of #33 Team Barazi Epsilon Zytek 07S/2 driven by Adrian Fernandez but there was no obvious damage.

The #21 Team Bruichladdich Radical AER SR9 of Tim Greaves toured back to the pitlane with significant damage to the left front of the car after running of the circuit after being caught out by the water on the track and unfortunately the damage, particularly around the suspension, was thought to be too substantial to be repaired.

The #9 Creation Autosportif Ltd Judd CA07 driven by Jamie Campbell-Walter, Felipe Ortiz and Shinji Nakano was pulled into the garage to be worked on, and the #35 Team Saulnier Racing Courage-AER LC75 of Jacques Nicolet was given a stop-go penalty.

Audi did a full driver change with Kristensen taking over from Capello at the wheel of the leading #2 Audi. Peugeot changed their drivers too with Pedro Lamy taking over the third-placed #8 car and Marc Gene taking control of the #7 car behind.

Kristensen had a moment on lap 23 as he ran wide at the Dunlop Chicane but managed to keep the car within the run off area and avoid the gravel or bollards. The #5 Swiss Spirit Lola-Audi B07-10 driven by Marcel Fassler spun into the gravel at the Dunlop chicane, and Rockenfeller had his accident soon afterwards.

The #64 Team Corvette Racing C6-R of Oliver Gavin stopped out on the circuit with a suspected driveshaft problem. He was pushed off the circuit by the marshals but managed to get the car going again to return to the pits on the starter motor.

Due to the brief rain shower and Rockenfeller's accident most of the second hour was run behind the Safety Car. This allowed the #40 Quifel - ASM Team Lola-AER B0540 of Warren Hughes to stay in the lead of the LMP2 class although the #25 Team RML Ray Mallock Lola-AER B05-40 of Andy Wallace was able to close up, although it ground to a halt at the end of the second hour.

The Safety Car really closed up the LMGT1 class with the #009 Team Aston Martin Racing DBR9 of Darren Turner, half a second ahead of the #63 Team Corvette Racing C6-R of Jan Magnussen which was just over a second ahead of the #007 Aston Martin on Tomas Enge.

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