Le Mans » 23 June 2013
Hour 16: All quiet on the LMP1 front
Audi continues to lead Toyota in the premier class at Le Mans, but the 'junior' categories begin to heat up.
The 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours edged closer to its three-quarter distance point with no major developments at the front of the field, as Audi continued to keep its rivals at a comfortable distance.
While Loic Duval maintained a steady pace in the lead Audi, Toyota also resisted the temptation to swap drivers aboard its cars, with both Sebastien Buemi and Alex Wurz remaining at the wheel in the hope of tracking the Frenchman down. Wurz's pursuit, however, took a hit when the #7 TS030 HYBRID was required to return to the pits in order to replace a slow puncture.
There was also an issue for the #13 Rebellion Lola, which reported a loose engine cover, but remained in fifth spot, the best of the non Audi/Toyota runners. With two laps in hand over the battle between its sister car and the #21 Strakka entry, there was no problem for the #13 retaining its spot.
There were more dramatic moments in LMP2, where the #33 Level 5 Motorsports HPD suffered an exhaust fire during what was otherwise a routine pit-stop. Despite the flames in his mirrors, however, owner-driver Scott Tucker remained in the cockpit, and rejoined without further problems.
Already in its garage, the Jota team confirmed that the #38 Zytek had indeed suffered broken suspension ahead of its hour 15 spin, with the damage to the right front corner dropping the British car to eighth in class by the end of hour 16.
That promoted the #42 Greaves Zytek – crewed by Michael Krumm, Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordonez into third spot behind the metronomic OAK Racing Morgans, which continued to occupy first and second in class with the #35 ahead of the #24.
While both prototype classes kept some interest, the GTE-Pro battle stepped up with four cars on the lead lap and another not too far behind.
Although the leading #99 Aston Martin took a trip into the gravel at Indianapolis, any loss of position was remedied when the #92 Manthey Porsche pitted for new brakes, allowing the British car to retake the lead. Aston Martin Racing and Manthey filled the next two places, while Ferrari was added to the mix as AF Corse propelled its #51 car – with Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Matteo Malucelli – into fifth spot.
GTE-Am continued to be headed by the #76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Raymond Narac, Christophe Bourret and impressive rookie Jean-Karl Vernay, while AF Corse gave chase with its #55 and #61 cars, both of which were a lap adrift of the leader, along with the Dempsey Del Piero Porsche.
1. #2 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro * 237 laps (22 stops)
2. #8 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 236 laps (20 stops)
3. #7 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 235 laps (19 stops)
1. #35 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 223 laps (21 stops)
2. #24 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 223 laps (20 stops)
3. #42 Mardenborough/Ordonez/Krumm Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan 221 laps (19 stops)
1. #99 Bell/Makowiecki/Senna Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 * 213 laps (17 stops)
2. #92 Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR * 213 laps (15 stops)
3. #97 Turner/Mucke/Dumbreck Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 * 213 laps (16 stops)
1. #76 Narac/Bourret/Vernay IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR * 207 laps (15 stops)
2. #55 Perazzini/Case/O'Young AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 206 laps (16 stops)
3. #61 Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia * 206 laps (16 stops)
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