Blundell fighting to make up the deficit

Second-placed Mark Blundell set about making up the huge deficit to the other Bentley during the fifth hour. A costly extra pit stop early in the race to remove some cockpit debris during David Brabham’s stint and bad luck with the safety cars...

Second-placed Mark Blundell set about making up the huge deficit to the other Bentley during the fifth hour. A costly extra pit stop early in the race to remove some cockpit debris during David Brabham’s stint and bad luck with the safety cars had caused the number eight Bentley to fall a long way behind.

The number eight Bentley made a fuel stop at the end of lap 63 and lost just 54 seconds. The team were ready with new tyres but decided not to replace the existing tyres on the car, so he rejoined just 5 seconds ahead of Werner’s Audi in third place.

The number seven Bentley made a tyre, fuel and driver stop at the end of lap 66. The car was in the pit lane for a total of 1 minute 18 seconds and Guy Smith pulled on to the circuit for his first stint a couple of minutes ahead of team-mate Blundell.

Blundell set about making up this deficit and, with a blistering run of laps with times peaking at six seconds a lap faster than Smith, he soon got the gap down to just one and a half minutes. Werner, now back on the lead lap, was also putting on a strong run and tried to keep within ten seconds of Blundell.

Behind the Bentley and Audi battle the Racing for Holland Dome Judd, driven by Andy Wallace, was running strongly in fifth place ahead of the JML Team Panoz of Gunnar Jeannette in sixth.

The Team Goh Audi had a frantic pit stop on lap 72. Werner stepped out of the car to hand over to Seiji Ara while the mechanics took the bodywork off the car and carried out some quick repairs. He joined the track in fourth place 40 seconds behind the sister Audi of Johansson in third place.

The Champion Racing Audi pitted on the next lap for their driver, fuel and pit stop. The pit stop went perfectly and the car was stationary for just 1 minute 16 seconds, with Emanuele Pirro joining in fourth place and promoting Ara to third. Pirro’s pace was blistering and he was the fastest driver on the track.

The battle at the front of the LM GTS class was still very close. The number 88 Veloqx Prodive of Jamie Davies was two minutes ahead of the sister Ferrari 550 Maranello driven by Kelvin Burt. Davies however was forced to pit at the end of his 66th lap as his car was suffering from excess water loss and he lost the place to Burt, rejoining 17 seconds behind.

The LM GT class was lead by Lucas Luhr in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 who was running in 20th place overall and one lap ahead of the second placed Orbit Racing Porsche of Marc Lieb. The Orbit car however had to pit due to a radiator problem shortly before 9pm and promoted Team Taisan Advan’s Porsche, driven by Akira Iida to second place.

The leader of the LMP675 class, the lowest-placed class leader down in 19th place overall, was the Noel del Bello Racing Reynard-Lehmann being driven by Jean-Luc Maury-Laribiere.

The Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam, driven by Bryan Willman, which had spent a significant amount of time in the pit lane, slowed and pulled off the circuit along the Mulsanne straight.

Blundell pitted at the end of lap 76 for a fuel stop. Again the team decided not to change the tyres and the number eight Bentley rejoined the track in second place after just 52 seconds in the pit lane.

At the close of the hour Smith made fuel stop and returned in the lead by 1 minute 29 seconds. Blundell was running second in his Bentley and Ara was third place for Team Goh.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Andy Wallace , David Brabham , Guy Smith , Seiji Ara , Mark Blundell , Jamie Davies , Lucas Luhr , Gunnar Jeannette , Bryan Willman , Akira Iida , Marc Lieb , Kelvin Burt , Jean-Luc Maury-Laribière , Noel del Bello , Alex Job , Emanuele Pirro
Teams Alex Job Racing