LE MANS 24 HOURS -- AFTER 6 HOURS LMP1 ...
LE MANS 24 HOURS -- AFTER 6 HOURS
#5 -- Swiss Spirit Lola B07/10-Audi
Drivers: Jean-Denis Deletraz (CH), Iradj-Alexander David (CH), Marcel Fassler (CH)
Position after 6 hours: 50th overall; 14th in class
Best Time: 3m37.493s on lap 8
Swiss Spirit's first Le Mans with the potent Lola-Audi combination took a severe set back at just after 19.00 with a fuel pressure problem. Prior to stopping just after the Porsche Curves, the team's trio of drivers had demonstrated the enormous potential of the Audi engined Lola B07/10 in the early exchanges. Marcel Fassler started the race and instantly started to cut through the rest of the LMP1 petrol engine field. Starting from 14th place on the grid, Fassler got up to as high as 7th position before heavy rain meant a change to wet weather tyres. However, with the ever changing conditions the team soon had to swap back to slicks. At 16.30 on a greasy track Fassler spun off at the Dunlop Chicane and lost time as he rejoined. Bringing the Michelin shod car in for its first change shortly after this incident, Jean-Denis Deletraz took over but also suffered a harmless spin. When Iradj Alexander-David took over the car was running quickly again but in the early stages of his stint, Alexander stopped on the circuit with the fuel pressure problem. Just before the six hour mark Alexander managed to get the car back to the pits and the team set about trying to get the car back in to the race. However it had lost over two hours at this stage.
#15 -- Charouz Racing System Lola B07/17-Judd
Drivers: Alex Yoong (MAL), Stefan Mucke (D), Jan Charouz (CZ)
Position after 6 hours: 6th overall
Best Time: 3m36.746s (Stefan Mucke)
The Charouz Racing System team were positioned in a brilliant 6th place overall after 6 hours of racing at Le Mans tonight. The Judd powered Lola B07/17 had a great start to the race with ex F1 racer Alex Yoong coping expertly with the tricky dry/wet/dry conditions. Stefan Mucke was making significant progress inside the top 10 in the third and fourth hours, proving to be spectacularly quick in the drying conditions. The German encountered a spectacular problem in his first scheduled stop when a small fuel fire saw him leap from the cockpit, only to be told to continue after the brief fuel fire was rapidly extinguished by the ever professional Charouz team.
"I was flying in my stint and enjoying it so much. The conditions were still drying and that is these are the conditions that I enjoy, especially in the Lola, which has fantastic grip. When I came in for the stop I felt heat on my overalls and I got out pretty quick! Then Marcus (team-boss -- Sarach) told me to get back in the cockpit. But then I came in early to hand over to Jan (Charouz) because the extinguisher had got in to my helmet and I had to catch my breath a lot. I went to see the medical guy and he was cool and I have absolutely no problems now." Jan Charouz carried on the excellent progress of the Lola-Judd to ensure that the car was in a solid 6th on the same laps as the 5th placed Pescarolo-Judd.
-- Chamberlain-Synergy Lola B07/10-AER
Drivers: Bob Berridge (GB), Peter Owen (GB), Gareth Evans (GB)
Position after 6 hours: 44th overall; 12th in class
Best Time: 3m42.471s (Bob Berridge)
The Chamberlain Synergy Lola B07/10- AER driven by Bob Berridge experienced a puncture on the first lap, with the force of the blow triggering damage to the rear light. Berridge steered the yellow colours of the Chamberlain Synergy LMP2 back to the pits to change the tyre. The team's difficult start to the race also saw some small mechanical problems. With the water temperatures fluctuating, team boss Hugh Chamberlain took advance of the safety car being on the track to bring the team in to fix the fault immediately.
Peter Owen, the Chamberlain driver summed up the opening 4 hours, "We had a puncture on the opening lap. The pit crew have been kept busy and they've been doing a marvellous job. With 18 hours to go, there is still a lot to play for. We will stick to the game plan, which is to keep making laps around 3.50." The Oxfordshire based squad are showing both their and the Lola's resilience in creeping up the leaderboard as the race entered the second quarter.
LMP2 #25 -- RML MG-Lola EX264 AER
Drivers: Mike Newton (GB), Tommy Erdos (BRA), Andy Wallace (GB)
Position after 6 hours: 46th overall; 9th in class
Best Time: 3m46.634s (Tommy Erdos)
Thomas Erdos got the RML MG-Lola EX264 AER off to a good start, registering his best lap of the opening stint on lap 7, recording a time of 3.46.634. After lap 25 Erdos took his second stop, with the Brazilian swapping over with team mate Andy Wallace. With barely a lap under his belt, a faulty crank sensor forced him to park the RML on the side of the track. The former Le Mans winner used his vast experience to get the car going again. Wallace was finding a good rhythm, and was the fastest P2 driver on the track, prior to spinning off at the Porsche Curves, sliding the car into the barriers.
The car was towed out of the gravel onto the public roads, enabling Wallace to bring the RML car back to the pits around 4 hours 10 minutes into the race. An accolade to the strength of the Lola chassis, the excellent RML mechanics were able to repair all four corners of the MG- Lola in just 50 minutes to keep the team's hopes alive as they embark on a historic assault to make it a hat-trick of LMP2 Le Mans straight wins.
Andy Wallace, "The car was running really well, then it snapped right, then snapped left as I was coming into Porsche Curves and I was flying in backwards as the car hit the barrier. It's a long race so we'll continue fighting for a top finish."
#31 -- Binnie Motorsport Lola B05/40 Zytek
Drivers: Bill Binnie (USA), Allen Timpany (GB), Chris Buncombe (GB)
Position after 6 hours: 17th overall; 3rd in class
Best Time: 3m51.429s
Last years LMP2 runners-up, Binnie Motorsports ran faultlessly in the first quarter of the race and were in a secure 3rd place in the LMP2 class when the team's fastest qualifying driver, Chris Buncombe started his stint at 20.30 hrs. Earlier, Bill Binnie and Allen Timpany had each successfully completed lengthy stints without drama in the Zytek powered Lola B05/40. On Kumho tyres, Binnie had started cautiously and had stayed out of trouble as many of his competitors encountered problems. Allen Timpany had enjoyed a similar trouble free double stint in the early evening before handing over to Le Mans rookie Buncombe, who was impatient to sample dusk at Le Mans. "Bill and Allen have done a really great job in treacherous conditions," said 28 year old Buncombe just before his stint. "I have the special visor for the setting sun and I feel confident that we can continue with this progress and stay out of significant problems then we will be in a really great position."
Quifel-ASM Team Lola B05/40 AER
Drivers: Warren Hughes (GB), Miguel Amaral (P), Miguel Angel De Castro (P)
Position after 6 hours: 13th overall; 2nd in class
Best Time: 3m44.993s
The Portuguese team had been one of the stars of the qualifying period at Le Mans and that form continued in to the opening stages of the race as they led the LMP2 class convincingly in the first four hours. Warren Hughes did a superb triple stint in the first three hours, making light of a small electrical problem that occasionally stuck his pit lane limiter on. The former Lola-MG works driver was lapping faster than any of his rivals and stayed out on slick tyres under the first safety car period.
Handing over to Miguel Amaral in the third hour and then Miguel Angel De Castro, the Dunlop shod car ended the first six hours in a close 2nd place in class but a pit stop ahead of the leading Zytek LMP2. "It is a good, solid start to the race for us," said Hughes after his stint. "We had an issue early on but we overcame that fine. The car is good and reasonably consistent in the variable conditions and if we can keep to this programme then we will be in really great shape."