23 June 2013
Hour 18: Safety car returns, Rebellion quashed
Two lengthy safety car periods prevent much in the way of action as Le Mans passes three-quarter distance.
Having ended hour 17 of the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours content not to have seen sight not sound of either the rain or the safety cars, the remaining runners were 'treated' to both during hour 18.
The frustration unfolded following the demise of the #98 GTE-Pro Aston Martin, which American veteran Bill Auberlen brought to a smoky halt approaching Mulsanne corner. While the driver made contact with his pit crew by telephone, marshals reported the oil slick his car had left between the first chicane and its final resting place.
The safety car returned for nearly 25 minutes while a clean-up was effected, during which time the rain made a fleeting rain, depositing a fine mist over Dunlop and the Esses, but thankfully not extending over the rest of the track.
Despite warnings of a slippery surface when the safety car eventually withdrew at 0832hrs local time, it didn't take long for another incident to occur, this time courtesy of the #13 Lola crashing hard at Indianapolis.
Andrea Belicchi appeared to be trying pass around the outside of a GT class Porsche when he lost control, the black-and-gold Lola snapping sharp right before hitting the barriers nose first. Despite the ensuing damage, the Italian managed to limp back to the pits where, its driver having exited gingerly from the cockpit, it was lifted onto stands for the mechanics to begin the job of rebuilding its front section.
Sadly, the barriers at the point of impact were also badly damaged and, not for the first time this weekend, the safety car was scrambled to cover the repair and remained on track through to the end of the hour.
If Belicchi's spin looked a little embarrassing, it was nothing compared to the errant #39 DKR Lola, which rotated again – this time at Michelin – whilst behind the safety car….
With the race neutralised for so long in the hour, the respective class orders changed little, with the #2 Audi, now in the hands of Tom Kristensen continuing to lead LMP1 and overall, with the two Toyotas still giving chase.
OAK Racing maintained its hold on LMP2, with the #35 still ahead of the #24, while Greaves Motorsport kept third place with its red-and-white Zytek-Nissan.
GTE-Pro remained a four-way bunfight between Aston Martin Racing and Porsche AG Manthey Racing, with AF Corse keeping a watching brief in fifth while, in GTE-Am, IMSA Performance Matmut held a one-lap advantage over its nearest rival.
1. #2 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro * 263 laps (24 stops)
2. #8 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 261 laps (22 stops)
3. #7 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid * 261 laps (21 stops)
1. #35 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 247 laps (23 stops)
2. #24 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan * 247 laps (22 stops)
3. #42 Mardenborough/Ordonez/Krumm Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan 246 laps (20 stops)
1. #99 Bell/Makowiecki/Senna Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 * 237 laps (18 stops)
2. #91 Bernhard/Pilet/Bergmeister Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR * 237 laps (17 stops)
3. #97 Turner/Mucke/Dumbreck Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 * 237 laps (18 stops)
1. #76 Narac/Bourret/Vernay IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR * 231 laps (16 stops)
2. #55 Perazzini/Case/O'Young AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 230 laps (17 stops)
3. #77 Dempsey/Foster/Long Dempsey Del Piero-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 229 laps (18 stops)
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