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Hour 20: Battle resumes after lengthy safety car

23 June 2013

The first half of the hour was run behind the safety car, as track workers were once again hard at work repairing barriers. This time it was a consequence of Frédéric Makowiecki's hard hit after understeering at the first chicane in the #99 Aston Martin Vantage V8, which had put an end to the team's hopes of winning the class in memory of their fallen team mate Allan Simonen. Fortunately Makowiecki was okay after being checked out by the medics, albeit with some rib pain form the violence of the impact.

While the teams circulated under yellow, the radio waves were alive with the sound of team strategising - when to time the next pit stop, how to handle the final driver assignments, and also the small matter of fuel conservation to make sure they hit their mileage targets to get them home to the chequered flag from here. The #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro appeared especially anxious, as the car was on rain tyres and needed to sync the fuel stop with the next tyre change in order not to be hit by double visits to pit lane.

What looked to be a lengthy repair only took a little over 30 minutes - a grand total of four hours and 53 minutes behind the safety car so far in 2013, matching to the minute the 2011 record - and the green was out at 10.30am local time (9.30am BST), and sure enough the #2 Audi left it to the last minute with the green already out before diving into pit lane for a swap to slicks and a driver change of Loic Duval replacing Allan McNish. Ironically that coincided with the latest pulse of rain hitting the circuit, which caught out Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 Toyota TS030 hybrid who went spinning at Dunlop, but he was quickly able to rejoin and resume.

After that early drama, the rain abated and the sun came out - although it didn't really touch the unseasonal chill that had gripped Le Mans and given so many teams headaches overnight with tyre temperatures. With the dry weather looking set for the time being, the #3 Audi was in ten minutes after its stablemate, Lucas di Grassi happy to be sent out on normal slicks into fourth place behind the two Toyotas of Nakajima and Stéphane Sarrazin.

In the LMP2 class, Martin Plowman was holding steady in the lead in the #35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan ahead of Olivier Pla in the sister #24, with Mike Conway a lap off in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 03-Nissan.

Following the exit of the #99 Aston Martin, GTE-Pro honours at the top of the hour went to Marc Lieb in the #92 Porsche AG Team Manthey, with the Aston Martin team's hopes for a fitting tribute win now resting in the hands of Darren Turner in the #97 car.

The #76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Jean-Karl Vernay continued to lead the GTE-Am field ahead of Piergiuseppe Perazzini in the #55 Ferrari 458 Italia AF Corse who was a lap ahead of the #77 Dempsey Del Piero-Proton.

LMP1

1. #2 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro * 288 laps (27 stops)
2. #8 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 287 laps (24 stops)
3. #7 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 286 laps (24 stops)

LMP2

1. #35 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 272 laps (25 stops)
2. #24 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 271 laps (25 stops)
3. #26 Rusinov/Martin/Conway G-Drive Racing Oreca 03-Nissan * 270 laps (25 stops)

GTE-Pro

1. #92 Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR * 261 laps (18 stops)
2. #97 Turner/Mucke/Dumbreck Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 * 261 laps (19 stops)
3. #91 Bernhard/Pilet/Bergmeister Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR * 260 laps (19 stops)

GTE-Am

1. #76 Narac/Bourret/Vernay IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR * 253 laps (19 stops)
2. #55 Perazzini/Case/O'Young AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 252 laps (20 stops)
3. #77 Dempsey/Foster/Long Dempsey Del Piero-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 251 laps (20 stops)

* - denotes World Endurance Championship entrant

See full Hour 20 times.
Tributes pour in for Allan Simonsen.


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