Pace hots up as sun rises over Le Mans

Pace hots up as sun rises over Le Mans

Allan McNish put in a strong stint early on Sunday morning to close the gap between his number ...

Allan McNish put in a strong stint early on Sunday morning to close the gap between his number #2 Champion Racing Audi R8 and the #3 car of Tom Kristensen to under a minute. McNish maintained a strong pace and forced Kristensen to respond with his car's fastest laps of the race in order to maintain a safe gap between the two cars, although at one point Jean-Marc Gounon lost control of his fourth-placed Audi Playstation Team Oreca R8 and narrowly avoided collecting McNish.

#80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Johannes van Overbeek, Lonnie Pechnik, Seth Neiman.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.

The #16 Pescarolo of Emmanuel Collard remained in third place, four laps ahead of the chasing Audi Playstation Team Oreca of Jean-Marc Gounon, as Collard put in an immense pace running up to six seconds faster car of McNish in front of him and set the fastest lap of the race so far. Collard had a brief off-track excursion on lap 211 at the Michelin chicane but rejoined without a problem.

The #58 Aston Martin Racing car lead the GT1 class at the hands of Tomas Enge and was running in sixth place overall. The Corvette Racing C6R pair of Olivier Beretta and Ron Fellows were running about half a lap behind. "Italians like to stay up at night," #63 Corvette Racing driver Max Papis joked. "We've been working a lot on tire choices, and we've been finding a good balance in the car. The car is comfortable; it's cool and not tiring to drive, so you can stay in for a long while."

"So far I'm very happy with how everything is going," said #64 Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen after his night-time stint in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R. "Obviously we didn't expect the two punctures we had in the beginning that put us behind the game, but we've caught up now. The first time in the car when the sun was out, it was tough because it was really warm, but the night stint was not bad."

Alex Job Racing continued to lead the GT2 class with Marc Lieb one lap ahead of Jorg Bergmeister in the White Lightning Racing Porsche GT3-RSR. Both cars ran extremely quickly overnight and regularly lapped within a second of their fastest lap times. "We're halfway home now but there is still a long way to go, " said Dale White, Team Manager and Sporting Director. "We've still got a whole Sebring left in this race. The good part about that is that we have plenty of time to pressure the BAM team. The bad part is there is still a lot of negative that can happen to us too for sure. We're going to keep sticking to our plan and see where we're at in the end."

Frank Hahn went off the circuit in his #35 G-Force Racing Courage Judd at Tertre Rouge on his 129th lap. The car lightly brushed the barriers and was removed from the gravel trap by the marshals. The car pitted for fifteen minutes to be repaired by the team and then pitted twice again over the next hour and but remained in fifth place in the LM P2 class.

The #36 Paul Belmondo Racing Courage Ford of Adam Sharpe was wheeled backwards into the garage. The mechanics worked on the back of the car for about five minutes. This sister car of Didier Andre was brought into the garage almost immediately and the team worked in the area around the driver, having already suffered a puncture a few laps before.

Jamie Campbell-Walter pitted his #7 Creation Autosportif DBA Judd for a routine pit stop but after some communication between the mechanics and the driver the back of the car was removed and the car pulled backwards into the garage. The Kruse Motorsport Courage Judd of Phil Bennett also entered the garage for a quick five-minute mechanical inspection.

The Yojiro Terada spun his #24 Rachel Welter WR Peugeot at the Dunlop chicane but eventually got going again after some assistance from the trackside marshals to continue running in sixth place in the LM P2 class.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Tomas Enge , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Didier André , Max Papis , Ron Fellows , Emmanuel Collard , Jörg Bergmeister , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Yojiro Terada , Johannes van Overbeek , Paul Belmondo , Marc Lieb , Jean-Marc Gounon , Seth Neiman , Lonnie Pechnik , Olivier Beretta , Adam Sharpe , Frank Hahn , Phil Bennett , Alex Job
Teams Aston Martin Racing , Corvette Racing , Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports