After 15 hours: 009 leads but 007 hits trouble The 009 DBR9 has once more extended its advantage at the head of the GT1 category in the Le Mans 24 Hours, despite a sudden period of rain that made the circuit extremely unpredictable. At one...
After 15 hours: 009 leads but 007 hits trouble
The 009 DBR9 has once more extended its advantage at the head of the GT1 category in the Le Mans 24 Hours, despite a sudden period of rain that made the circuit extremely unpredictable. At one point, the 009 car held a lead of less than four seconds over its closest rival, the Corvette, in conditions that were extremely slippery.
Nonetheless, thanks to some calm and collected driving from Antonio Garcia, the Spaniard not only managed to keep his determined rival at bay, but also to extend his GT1 class lead by around two minutes.
The rain began to fall just after 5am, starting with a localised shower that then turned into a heavier downpour, soaking parts of the circuit. Many competitors came in for intermediate tyres and then full wets. During the course of these stops, Garcia found himself running immediately in front of the Corvette.
Despite an extremely slippery track - particularly when it had just started to rain - Garcia soaked up the pressure to build up a bigger lead.
Things were not quite so straightforward for the 007 car though. Whilst Andrea Piccini was driving it developed an electrical problem that required a change of alternator. The Aston Martin Racing mechanics were able to quickly carry out the work in the pit garage, and the car only lost two places after about 15 minutes of repair work. The car is now back to full health, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen at the wheel.
The Charouz Racing System LMP1 prototype, powered by Aston Martin, is currently 12th overall after fighting back from a half-hour delay caused by an off at the beginning of the race. The privately-entered DBR9 of Team Modena is eighth in the GT1 class.
The rain is still falling at La Sarthe, and predictions are that it might remain for a lot of the morning. The amount of damp on the circuit varies from place to place, making it extremely difficult to judge how much grip is available.
As Heinz-Harald Frentzen, an acknowledged rainmaster, points out: "If it is full wet conditions, at least you know where you are. But where it is more wet in some places than others, then it becomes tricky. You just have to try to be really careful."
Nonetheless, with the Corvettes so close behind, the Aston Martin Racing team cannot afford to drop any time being careful - even though the cars are now all running on wet tyres to combat the damp conditions.