Bentley quickly roared into the distance at the start of Le Mans 24 hours. Rinaldo Capello, in the pole position ...
Bentley quickly roared into the distance at the start of Le Mans 24 hours. Rinaldo Capello, in the pole position #7 Bentley, and Johnny Herbert, in the sister car, pulled away from the rest of the field as the cars crossed the start line under the flag waved by Guest of Honour, Don Panoz.
As the Bentleys pulled away, the Dome Judd of Jan Lammers got the jump on the Audi R8 of Frank Biela to move up to third place and crucially hold-up the Audi attack. All three Audi cars lined up nose-to-tail behind the Dome but were unable to get past, despite several attempts by Biela.
Jan Magnussen, in the sister Audi, gradually moved up and passed Biela to move up to third place. Magnussen was then unleashed to try to make up the 11 second gap to the Bentley pair. The Dome of Lammers fell back down to sixth place behind the Audi trio.
The Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R driven by Oliver Gavin pulled into the pits at the end of the first lap but rejoined soon afterwards. The Team Nasamax Reynard Cosworth of Romain Dumas pitted with a gear-related problem and the Carsport America Oagani Zonda Mercedes of Mike Hezemans also pitted with a mechanical problem.
The race started under hot and very humid conditions with a mostly dry track. Rain had fallen for a couple of hours during the pre-race build-up but the weather cleared up and the skies brightened shortly before the start.
By the end of lap 6 the Bentley driver Capello was holding a 2.2 second lead over Herbert, who was 18.9 seconds ahead of Magnussen in the Dome Judd.