Published on June 23rd, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Le Mans 2013, Final Hours, Audi still in control and in the lead
The final quarter of the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours has just begun. The N°2 Audi of Duval/McNish/Kristensen still leads, but the chasing Toyotas in second (N°8) and third (N°7) places have lost ground following several safety car interruptions. There have been dramatic changes in the LMP1 privateer class, while the N°99 Aston Martin/Michelin now has a cushion of more than two minutes at the top of the LMGTE Pro order.
Since the race’s mid-point, there have been a high number of lengthy safety car interruptions which have taken some of the pressure off the drivers of the N°2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro who have led the race since shortly before 10pm Saturday.
The threesome is currently two laps clear of the N°8 and N°7 Toyotas. Although the Japanese cars threatened to bridge the gap whenever it rained, they were caught out more than once in the wrong safety car ‘train’ and, each time, the delay has given the front-running Audi a little more breathing space. The German car has completed 263 laps (3,584km).
The N°3 Audi follows in fourth place (+3 laps), while the N°1 Audi has climbed back to fifth spot, albeit still 11 laps back. There has been a fair amount of drama recently in the LMP1 privateer battle which, until now, had been dominated by the two Rebellion Lola-Toyotas. However, the N°12 car fell back to 12thoverall because of a clutch change, and work continues as we write. Then, 10 minutes ago, it was joined in the Rebellion garage by the N°13 sister car which sustained significant damage after smashing head-on into a guardrail at the second Mulsanne chicane. All this has played into the hands of the N°21 Strakka Racing HPD which is on the point of becoming the best-placed LM1 privateer, despite starting the race from the 18th row! There have been no changes in LMP2 where the N°35 and N°24 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissans having been trading the lead for much of the race. The N°35 machine is currently in front.
In LMGTE Pro, the situation appears to be unfolding in favour of the N°99 Aston Martin (Bell/Makowiecki/Senna) which has emerged with a safety margin of more than 2½ minutes over the N°91 Porsche, the N°97 Aston Martin and the N°92 Porsche.