Kristensen returns to the front at Le Mans

Kristensen returns to the front at Le Mans

Audi took over the lead of Le Mans 24 Hours after both Pescarolos suffered separate problems and the ...

Audi took over the lead of Le Mans 24 Hours after both Pescarolos suffered separate problems and the #3 Champion Racing Audi R8 of Marco Werner, JJ Lehto and Tom Kristensen gradually pulled away into the distance. Werner ran a strong stint in the fifth hour and Kristensen took over at the turn of the sixth hour to set about building on the lead.

#3 Champion Racing Audi R8: JJ Lehto, Marco Werner, Tom Kristensen.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.

The Audi Playstation Team Oreca Audi R8 was running in second place but picked up some debris and dropped down to fifth after a double pit stop, promoting the #4 Champion Racing Audi R8 of Allan McNish, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro to second.

The Rollcentre Racing Dallara Judd of Martin Short, Joao Barbosa and Vanina Ickx continued its strong performance to run as high as second before being passed by the two Audis to drop back to fourth. Short admitted that the team was suffering from a power steering leak that the team would need to monitor for the remainder of the race. The #10 Racing For Holland Judd and the #5 Jim Gainer International remained both in touch, and all three cars kept exchanging places during pitstops.

Pescarolo continued their fight back after suffering a series of unfortunate problems earlier in the race. The #16 car dropped down to 10th place but Emmanuel Collard put in an extremely strong stint running around four seconds faster than the leading Audis to close up on the Team Jota / Zytek Engineering of John Stack that was running a couple of laps ahead. The #17 car was futher up the field and had moved up to seventh place from ninth after the earlier stops and Sebastien Loeb was putting in a solid performance.

The Courage Competition Judd of Bruce Jouanny suffered a spectacular left-rear puncture at high-speed on the run down to Indianapolis and the rubber ripped off the rear wing and rear bodywork. The car was running in twelfth position in the LM P1 class and 30 laps behind at the time but was wheeled into the garage for a long series of repairs.

The Kruse Motorsport Courage Judd took the lead of the LM P2 class midway through the fourth hour and Tim Mullen set about pulling out a gap over the Intersport Racing Lola AER of Sam Hancock that had moved up to second position from eighth position. The #63 Corvette Racing C6R took the lead of the GT1 class after gradually moving up through the field running just under a minute ahead of the #58 Aston Martin Racing of Peter Kox.

The White Lightening Racing Porsche GT3-RSR continued its strong fight back from a heavy qualifying crash to take the lead of the GT2 class just after the first hour and the team battled extremely closely with the Alex Job racing Porsche GT3-RSR. Mike Rockenfeller then took the lead in the Alex Job Racing car at the start of the sixth hour and pulled out a ten second lead over Patrick Long in the Porsche. The pair was running a couple of laps ahead of the Raymond Narac Porsche GT3-RSR of Sebastien Dumez.

Panoz Motor Sports had a series of technical problems during the first few hours. The #77 car of Bill Auberlen, Robin Liddell and Scott Maxwell had to pit with radiator problems and then re-pitted soon afterwards. The car pitted again with bodywork damage and then was forced back into the garage again with suspected engine problems. The sister #78 car of Bryan Sellers, Marino Franchitti and Patrick Bourdais also suffered problems after going off the circuit after the collision with the #17 Pescarolo.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Bruce Jouanny , Tom Kristensen , Allan McNish , Frank Biela , Emmanuel Collard , Vanina Ickx , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Scott Maxwell , Sébastien Loeb , Peter Kox , Joao Barbosa , Patrick Long , Marino Franchitti , Marco Werner , Martin Short , Patrick Bourdais , Bryan Sellers , Mike Rockenfeller , Sebastien Dumez , Tim Mullen , Sam Hancock , John Stack , Raymond Narac , Alex Job , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto
Teams Aston Martin Racing , Corvette Racing , Gainer , Alex Job Racing