Le Mans » 14 June 2009
Le Mans update: Hours 16-18
After the dramatic early morning action at La Sarthe, which saw the Pescarolo Peugeot and the Flying Lizard Porsche both crash out, a period of calm descended on the Le Mans 24 Hours, with Peugeot continuing to lead the way.
Marc Gene made the most of a stop for the #1 Audi early in the 16th hour to put an extra lap on the defending champions and strengthen Peugeot's position out front, with the Spaniard then handing the car over to David Brabham.
The Aussie remained out front through to the end of the 18th hour ahead of Stephane Sarrazin in the sister car, while the third factory Peugeot – now running back inside the top ten – posted the quickest lap of the race during the 18th hour in the hands of Nic Minassian. Prior to Sarrazin getting into the second-placed car however, Franck Montagny had been closing in on the leader.
Behind the three leading diesel runners, the #007 Lola Aston Martin continues to lead the way amongst the petrol runners having continued to run without any major problems, although there have been changes behind.
The sole remaining Team ORECA entry is now fifth after delays for the Kolles Audis and the Pescarolo-Judd. Firstly, the #14 Audi pitted early in the 16th hour after suffering an issue with the upshift and was followed a matter of minutes later by the sister car carrying front-end damage.
Both cars would return to the track, although Andre Lotterer went off briefly at Arnage after outbraking himself, while Christijan Albers took a trip over the gravel at the second chicane – both rejoining without drama.
The delays in the pits saw the #14 drop one place to sixth, and at the 18 hour marker, Charles Zwolsman is under pressure from Neel Jani in the Speedy Racing Lola Aston Martin, with the Swiss driver having been ahead on the road before a low-speed spin into the gravel at the Dunlop chicane.
The Pescarolo-Judd sits eighth having been pushed into the garage during the 18th hour for a brake change, with the #7 Peugeot closing in behind in ninth, while the delayed #15 Audi sits tenth.
The #008 Lola Aston endured a difficult period which saw the car forced to the garage to replace the clutch before Jos Verstappen was sent back out. However, with the car smoking, the Dutchman was straight back in again, although he rejoined shortly before the end of the 18th hour of competition.
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