Bentley has close call but maintains lead

The incredible Le Mans 24 Hours race continued into the third hour with more drama, action and surprises. Frank Biela, who had appeared to retire, rejoined the circuit to complete a few hundred metres. Backmarkers played a significant role...

The incredible Le Mans 24 Hours race continued into the third hour with more drama, action and surprises. Frank Biela, who had appeared to retire, rejoined the circuit to complete a few hundred metres. Backmarkers played a significant role baulking leaders at crucial moments and Bentley had another scare under braking.

Biela, having appeared to retire with an empty fuel tank, incredibly drove back on to the circuit and continued as if there had not been a problem. However he slowed a few hundred metres later and again had to pull off the circuit.

David Brabham, in second place and 40 seconds behind Kristensen, pitted at the end of lap 36 for more fuel in a stop that lasted 1 minute 8 seconds.

The Team Nasamax Reynard Cosworth driven by Romain Dumas pulled off the circuit after spending a significant part of the race in the garage with mechanical problems.

Bentley had a narrow escape on lap 38 when Tom Kristensen left his pit and was very nearly collected by Jean Marc Gounon’s Courage Competition Judd. Kristensen followed the Courage very closely for half a lap before eventually overtaking and pulling away.

Gavin Pickering spun his Rachel Welter WR-Peugeot near the end of a lap and, in a dramatic moment, very nearly collected team-mate Bastien Briere who was following close behind.

There was a collision on lap 40 at Virage D’Arnage. The Racing For Holland Dome Judd of Beppe Gabbiani pulled to the inside to lap Kelly Collins’s Corvette Racing Chevrolet. Collins, however, just moved across the front of Gabbiani and both cars spun round and stopped briefly before spinning round and rejoining.

Brabham caught up with Marco Werner’s Audi on lap 41 and eased past into the Courbe Dunlop. Brabham then got caught behind traffic on the exit of the corner and Werner sailed past back into second place and nearly three seconds ahead. Werner pitted at the end of the lap and he was forced to brake sharply to avoid a slow-moving Porsche. Brabham stayed out on track and, at the same time, had to violently swerve to avoid back markers.

Edouard Sezionale had a dramatic moment when the Edouard Sezionale Norma Ford suffered a left-rear puncture under braking. The car spun violently over the gravel trap before coming to a rest.

In the LMP675 class RN Motorsport DBA Zytek suffered an appalling run of bad luck. The car had to return to the pits again, this time for a new alternator, and then, while in the garage and in pieces, was subsequently awarded a stop-and-go penalty. This handed the lead to the Noel del Bello Racing Reynard Lehmann of Didier Andre.

The LM GTS leader was the Veloqx Prodive Ferrari of Tomas Enge who was running two and a half minutes ahead of the Luc Alphand Aventures Ferrari of Luc Alphand. Three seconds behind was the Veloqx Prodrive of Anthony Davidson. The cars were running an impressive 13th, 15th and 16th in the overall classification.

The number 8 Bentley had another scare at the Virage De Mulsanne on lap 45 as again the car violently twitched under braking. Brabham was able to recover though while staying on the tarmac and rejoined three seconds further behind Kristensen.

At the end of the third hour after 47 laps Kristensen led team-mate Brabham by 47.7 seconds with Werner’s Audi 1 minute 14.5 seconds behind in third place.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Tomas Enge , David Brabham , Tom Kristensen , Frank Biela , Didier André , Marco Werner , Luc Alphand , Romain Dumas , Edouard Sezionale , Beppe Gabbiani , Gavin Pickering , Bastien Brière , Jean-Marc Gounon , Noel del Bello
Teams Corvette Racing