At the 70th running of Le Mans, it seems that the only one fast enough to beat Audi in the first four hours has been Team Puncture. Michael Krumm's ...
At the 70th running of Le Mans, it seems that the only one fast enough to beat Audi in the first four hours has been Team Puncture.
Michael Krumm's #3 Audi suffered its first puncture even before the green flag, dropping the Audi Sport Team Joest to the back of the field.
More dramatic, though, was the sudden puncture that the #2 Audi suffered in the hands of Christian Pescatore. In a strong lead after Tom Kristensen's penalty, the yellow-trimmed R8 had to hobble back to the pits, with the undertray dragging on the ground.
With carbon fiber fragments flying and smoke from the back of the R8, the Italian nursed the car into the pits, where the Audi mechanics got it back under way in less than two minutes.
But precious minutes were lost on the way to the pits, and the pole-sitting #2 is now back in third place, beind the #3 and well over a lap away from the leading #1 Audi of Emmanuele Pirro.
Pescatori is pushing hard, though, and is lapping about a second faster than Pirro, two seconds faster than the #3, and four seconds quicker than the fourth-place MG of Jonny Kane.
But what the racing gods take away, they sometimes give back. And only 20 minutes after Pescatori's flat, Marco Werner had the second puncture of the race for the #3 Audi. Werner was already in the second part of the lap, but still lost second place back to Pescatori as he crawled back into the pits, rear diffuser dragging on the ground.
Kane passed the pit-bound Audi for third place as well, and managed to hang on to the third place through his fuel-only stop immediately after Werner's incident.
Behind those four, the fastest cars are the Cadillac LMPs of Max Angelelli (#6) and Eric Bernard (#7), but both have suffered from early mechanical woes and are three and 10 laps behind, respectively.
Further back, Formula One test driver Tomas Enge (Ferrari 550 Maranello) holds the LM GTS lead from Johnny O'Connell (#63 Corvette), but the team of O'Connell, Ron Fellows and Olivier Gavin is in hot pursuit, chasing a repeat class win.
The Saleens, which have given the Corvettes a great deal of trouble in 2001 and 2002, are some three laps back of the Enge-O'Connell battle, though. Dusk is approaching and nighttime is bound to bring excitement -- and more changes -- to the 2002 Le Mans.