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Hybrid battle rages into final four hours

17 June 2012

The battle for honours between the two hybrid Audi cars is now in full swing as the Le Mans 24 Hours heads into the final four hours – with the two cars running more or less together on track in the top two places.

Having reclaimed the lead, the #1 car stayed out front until the 18th hour, when Marcel Fassler ran off track at Mulsanne Corner when he suddenly found a spinning Corvette in his way. Although he avoided the car, contact with the barriers caused damage to the rear and led to the team being forced to change the rear wing and legality panel during his next stop.

With Tom Kristensen taking fuel only on his next stop, the pair ended up together on track with Fassler sliding across the gravel as the duo battled for the lead – putting Kristensen up front.

Differing strategies for the two cars has seen the lead swap hands numerous times with the qualifying laps the order of the day in an attempt to gain an advantage. Heading into the 21st hour it was the #1 car out front in the hands of Benoit Treluyer, but an upcoming pit-stop was sure to give Allan McNish the lead back in the #2.

Behind the two leaders, the #4 R18 Ultra continues to hold third place despite an ongoing issue that has seen both Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis stop on track. The delayed #3 car is therefore closing in but still five laps further back in fourth place, with the #12 Rebellion Lola in fifth. The sister car has slipped down the order however having been forced into a clutch change.

The JRM Racing HPD is now into the top six after its earlier problems and is a place ahead of the LMP2 leader, with the Starworks Motorsport team a lap clear of second places TDS Racing Oreca.

A number of LMP2 teams have hit problems however, with the JOTA Zytek crashing out in the hands of team boss Simon Dolan and the Level 5 HPD stopping on track after apparently running dry. Signatech's #26 car has also lost time after a puncture and spin.

In the GTE-Pro class, AF Corse continue to lead the way albeit with an extended lead after the second placed Luxury Ferrari car lost time with a puncture and then a brake change. In third however, Stefan Mucke in lapping quickly in the remaining Aston Martin Vantage V8 in attempt to move back up to second.

A tough race for Corvette has continued meanwhile, with the #74 going into the wall in the Porsche Curves on two occasions – with the team seemingly now parking the car until the end so it can come out to take the flag – and the #73 also losing time in the pits.

In GTE-Am, the leading Larbre Corvette is less than 20 seconds clear of the second places IMSA Performance Porsche, with Krohn Racing a lonely third. The AF Corse-Waltrip Ferrari meanwhile looked certain to retire after a fire as the car entered the pitlane having suffered a puncture. However, the team soon repaired the damage to allow the car to continue.

Retirements:

#38 JOTA Zytek-Nissan Accident
#33 Level 5 HPD ARX-03b Honda Fuel
#30 Status GP Lola-Judd
#88 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 997 RSR
#15 OAK Racing OAK Pescarolo-Judd Engine
#66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia
#48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03-Nissan Accident
#77 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 997 RSR
#75 Prospeed Competition Porsche 997 RSR Accident
#31 Lotus Lola B12/80 Coupe-Lotus Gearbox
#58 Luxury Racing Ferrari 458 Italia Accident damage
#24 OAK Racing Morgan-Judd Oil pump
#7 Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 HYBRID Engine
#80 Flying Lizard Porsche 997 RSR Accident damage
#28 Gulf Racing Middle East Lola-Nissan Accident
#8 Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 HYBRID Accident
#0 Highcroft Racing DeltaWing Nissan Accident
#81 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia Accident
#99 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 Accident damage
#16 Pescarolo Team Pescarolo-Judd Power steering
#29 Gulf Racing Middle East Lola-Nissan Accident


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