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Hour 21: Showers continue to test and tease the teams

23 June 2013

The top of the hour saw the return of drizzle to parts of the 8.469-mile, 38-turn Circuit de la Sarth and a forecast of heavier rain incoming from over Arnage within the next half hour. Anyone hoping for a quiet, easy finish to the 81st Le Mans 24 Hours was out of luck.

Loic Dival brought the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro in for a full service but retained the race seat for another stint, and 15 minutes later it was the turn of the #8 Toyota TS030 hybrid to come in for service with St├ęphane Sarrazin stepping out in favour of Anthony Davidson.

Having a more troubled time of it in the pit lane was the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia, Matteo Malucelli apparently erroneously ushered out by a mechanic while the team was still busy refuelling Malucelli's car. His premature acceleration ended up dragging down the refueller and sent him into a dangerous release that ended in a collision with the #45 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan.

Fortunately the LMP2 car was unharmed by the collision and Phillipe Mondolot was able to continue, although he was soon caught out by the arrival of the latest heavy pulse of rain sweeping over the track. The #45 was sent for a spin at the second chicane where it struggled to get underway again, Mondolot forced to call the pit crew on his mobile for instructions on what he needed to do under the hood to get the car going again.

The shower was only expected to be a brief affair and so teams were unwilling to waste a pit stop for a short-term change to intermediates: the drivers simply had to tread carefully and not throw their car at the scenery in the meantime. Some managed this more successfully than others, with a number of predictable spins and run-offs taking place until the rain abated and the sunshine returned, including Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 Toyota.

In the LMP2 category, Bertrand Baguette was back in charge of the #35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan and managing the class lead with a cool head, now almost a full lap ahead of the sister #24 car which had been handed off to ALex Brundle for the latest stint.

Marc Lieb continued to lead the GTE-Pro class in the #92 Porsche AG Team Manthey, but Darran Turner was pushing hard in the #97 and rapidly closing the gap in his efforts to give the Aston Martin team a much-needed valedictory win in memory of their fallen comrade.

In the GTE-Am class, Raymond Narac took back at the wheel of the leading #76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with a strong leader over Daryl O'Young in the first of two chasing AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italias.

LMP1

1. #2 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro * 305 laps (29 stops)
2. #8 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 304 laps (26 stops)
3. #7 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 303 laps (25 stops)

LMP2

1. #35 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 287 laps (26 stops)
2. #24 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 287 laps (26 stops)
3. #26 Rusinov/Martin/Conway G-Drive Racing Oreca 03-Nissan * 286 laps (27 stops)

GTE-Pro

1. #92 Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR * 276 laps (19 stops)
2. #97 Turner/Mucke/Dumbreck Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 * 276 laps (20 stops)
3. #91 Bernhard/Pilet/Bergmeister Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR * 275 laps (20 stops)

GTE-Am

1. #76 Narac/Bourret/Vernay IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR * 267 laps (20 stops)
2. #55 Perazzini/Case/O'Young AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 266 laps (21 stops)
3. #61 Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia * 266 laps (20 stops)

* - denotes World Endurance Championship entrant

See full Hour 21 times.
Tributes pour in for Allan Simonsen.


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