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24 Hours of Le Mans 2013: McNish and Audi lead at halfway

 

Photo: www.24h-lemans.com

Andre Lotterer (Audi Sport Team Joest No. 1 R18 E-Tron Quattro) pitted from the lead with 22 hr 41 min left, leaving the Toyota piloted by Anthony Davidson (Toyota Racing No. 8 TS 030 Hybrid) at the point. Toyota’s early pace surprised, helped by a 56-min caution brought about in the wake of an ultimately fatal crash by GTE Pro World Endurance Championship leader Allan Simonsen (Aston Martin). I love watching racing. I hate knowing that something like this can happen. My heartfelt condolences go out to all who knew and loved Allan.

Davidson came in at 22:34. With 22:12 left and the first cycle of pits completed, Lotterer held a 22-sec lead over teammate Allan McNish (Audi No. 2). McNish pitted again at 22:07, 10 laps after his first stop. Lotterer followed the 10-lap interval and came in at 22:05. The No. 3 Audi came in 1-min later.   

With 22 hr to go, Davidson was in the lead, pending his second pit stop, which occurred at 21:56 after a 10-lap stint for the Toyota. The No. 7 Toyota with Nicolas Lapierre behind the wheel passed Lotterer on track but had yet to make its second stop, coming in at 21:52 after a 12-lap run.

McNish came in again at 21:26 after 11 laps, with No. 7 Toyota experiencing electrical problems but remaining on track.

The off-and-on rain strengthened in the evening, with a number of cars spinning and/or leaving the course. These included the No. 3 Audi, which tore a tire in the process and had to limp back to the pits. An alternator problem as night fell put the No. 1 Audi 11 laps down by the time it was resolved.

With 13:24 left, Tom Kristensen led behind the wheel of the No. 2 Audi, with McNish getting back in the car shortly afterwards. Davidson and Lapierre followed one lap back in the Toyotas. With 12:42 remaining GTE Pro stood as Aston Martin, Porsche, Aston Martin with the overall leaders unchanged.

A full-course caution came out shortly thereafter when the No. 60 P2 car of Anthony Burgess crashed hard in the Porsche curves and burst into flames. The Oak Racing No. 24 Morgan Nissan led P2 under the caution. The GTE Pro Top 3 were the Aston Martin Racing No. 99 Vantage V8, the Porsche AG Team Manthey No. 92 911 RSR, and the Aston Martin No. 97. The IMSA Performance Matmut No. 76 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR led GTE Am.

Another full-course caution came out with 11:54 remaining as the No. 54 Ferrari left the course in the esses. A rain caution was issued with 11 hr to go, with the safety cars leaving the track but passing not allowed until green resumed.

Posted in: Sports
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