23 June 2013
Hour 12: #2 Audi out front as HVM Status bows out with a bang
Allan McNish continued where Tom Kristensen left off, setting a blistering pace at the head of the Le Mans field, but there was a dramatic exit for the #30 LMP2 Lola...
After the eleventh hour passed without any major development in the LMP2 class, the halfway point of the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours arrived with a safety car having to be called for an incident involving one its number.
The #30 HVM Status Lola-Judd/BMW made heavy contact with the wall at the Porsche Curves, ripping the gearbox and rear end from the car. Although medical teams were quickly on site to attend to Canadian Tony Burgess, the driver managed to extricate himself from the wreckage unaided.
The sixth safety car of the race was called out at 0221hrs and remained on track for 17 minutes, giving some of the leading runners – notably the #8 Toyota and #3 Audi – the chance to pit while the race pace was being controlled.
When they resumed, the two LMP1 contenders continued to run nose-to-tail for several laps, before the charging Oliver Jarvis took back a lap from countryman Anthony Davidson, although the pair remained fourth and second respectively.
The other delayed Audi was also continuing its march back towards the top ten, with Andre Lotterer's #1 car claiming a lap back from the leading #2, as the German and team-mate Allan McNish proved to be the fastest drivers on track.
The #2 and #3 R18 e-tron quattros continued to sandwich the two Toyotas, with the Davidson car heading the sister entry currently piloted by Nicolas Lapierre in the other podium positions.
Aside from Burgess' dramatic exit, LMP2 also witnessed a moment for the #49 Pecom ORECA-Nissan, which Luis Perez Companc took straight on at the Michelin chicane.
While the Argentine was able to resume, however, there was bad news for class rival Gulf Racing Middle East, which was forced to retire the #28 Lola-Nissan, and Level 5 Motorsports, whose HPD-Honda was spotted stationary and smoking at the side of the track. Marino Franchitti, who was at the wheel of the #33 machine, appeared unperturbed, remaining in the cockpit as he attempted to rejoin the fray.
The class continued to be led by the #35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan, with the #24 sister car heading the #38 Jota Zytek-Nissan in the top three.
In GTE-Pro, a relatively quiet hour saw the #99 Aston Martin continue to hold sway from the #92 Manthey Porsche and #97 Aston, although the latter appeared to encounter a problem with its signalling lights, which threatened it with a summons to return to the pits for repairs.
The #76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche led the #55 and #61 AF Corse Ferraris, but the class ranks were swelled once again by the return of the #70 Larbre Corvette, which had required a lengthy stop in the pits following its spin and mechanic-assisted return to the garage in the previous hour. Driver Cooper MacNeil confirmed that it had been a clutch problem that restricted to car to a limp – and admitted that it had been his fault as he had killed the clutch while attempting to rejoin from his spin...
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