The battle to stay on track

Mechanical problems began to take their toll as night fell at Le Mans 24 Hours. At midnight there had been seven retirements and several more cars suffering problems either in garages or nursing them out on the circuit. The most significant ...

Mechanical problems began to take their toll as night fell at Le Mans 24 Hours. At midnight there had been seven retirements and several more cars suffering problems either in garages or nursing them out on the circuit.

The most significant casualty was the #17 Pescarolo Sport Judd 01, which pitted at the start of the eighth hour and the car remained in the garage. "We had a big oil leak in the engine," said team director Henri Pescarolo. "We thought we had found it but it seems to be coming from another part of the engine." The team persevered and eventually the car was able to return to the track shortly before midnight.

The #9 Creation Autosportif Ltd Judd CA07 of Shinji Nakano had a long pitstop after the crash at the end of the seventh hour. The car had been off the track twice already in the race and the team were short of parts needed to repair the car.

Warren Hughes was leading the LMP2 class by over a lap but he suddenly started touring on lap 115. The left front of the car was in the air as the right rear wheel had detached and the car coasted to a halt out on the circuit without drive. At the same time the #83 Team GPC Sport SRL Ferrari F430 GT of Carl Rosenblad picked up a left-rear puncture and coasted round to the pits.

Retirements so far include the #3 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI after Mike Rockenfeller's crash, the #64 Team Corvette Racing C6-R which suffered a broken driveshaft, and the #21 Team Bruichladdich Radical AER SR9 which suffered accident damage after Tim Greaves went off the circuit during heavy rain.

Not all the cars were going slowly however. Minassian was pushing hard in the third-placed #7 Peugeot and setting the car's fastest laps of the race in the LMP1 class, and behind him Stefan Mucke was continuing to put in an extremely strong performance in the #15 Charouz Racing System Lola-Judd B07-17 - the car was doing its fastest laps of the race and closing up on the #16 Pescarolo that was over a lap ahead. Tomas Enge in the #007 Aston Martin was also pushing hard at the front of LMP2 class to extend the 30 second gap over the #009 Aston Martin.

Audi continued to dominate at the front of the field with the #2 car of Rinaldo Capello running two laps ahead of the #1 car of Frank Biela. Nicolas Minassian as another lap further behind in the #7 Peugeot in third place.

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Series LEMANS