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Sunday - Race to Finish at Le Mans

Hour 10 (12:00-01:00)

Mike is passed by the #64 Corvette, driven by Olivier Beretta. The GT1 car is matching Mike almost to the second, but on Mike's pitstop, just before midnight, managed to get ahead. The #25 RML Lola is 20th overall, again, and fourth in LMP2.

00:27 Pitstop ( Driver change: Newton - Dyson )
Mike in to the pitlane for a scheduled pitstop and driver change. The car refuelled, the drivers swapped over, new tyres fitted and a quick clean-round for debris and dirt, and then back out on track for Chris Dyson. The cost? Almost exactly two minutes.

Confirmation that Stuart Hall has been told that he has been excluded from the rest of the race, as a result of his move on the Bruichladdich Radical at half-seven. He is "totally gutted" by the decision, but very contrite. Others consider that the punishment is severe, and they have seen far worse go unpunished. There seems little question now that the move was not a deliberate move.

Chris has settled down to a good pace, and is consistently lapping in the three-fifties, and occasionally ducking into the top forty-nines. With the effects of the pitstop evening out, he has a lead of half a lap over the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo LMP2, and is 2:47 down on Beretta in the #64 Corvette.

Hour 11 (01:00-02:00)

Chris moves ahead of the #10 Oreca on pitstops to take 20th position. Bruno Senna is back in the LMP1 car and now marginally quicker than Chris, but is almost two minutes behind.

Entering the eleventh hour, the Team Essex Porsche is now very comfortably placed, nearly three laps ahead of the #5 Goh Porsche, which has had a couple of niggles during the last few hours and lost touch with the Danish entry. It has also fallen almost within the clutches of Xavier Pompidou in the #33 Lola, which has resumed its metronomic pace, but the Frenchman is tending to miss out on the Goh's pace by a second or so each lap, so holding station is possibly his best hope.

The #64 Corvette pits from second in GT1, and Chris moves ahead to take 19th. These position changes are starting to become a little predictable.

Chris reports that he's just had a flicker from the fuel warning light.

Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar

01:15 Pitstop ( Driver: - Dyson )
Chris into the pitlane for refuel and a clean-up. He says there's some pick-up on the tyres, but it's manageable at the moment. It's a very short stop (67 seconds track-to-track) and Chris in soon back in the hunt, but not before Senna sweeps by to retake 19th.

Chris is only 12 seconds behind the #64 Corvette and closing at a rate of eight seconds a lap.

The gap is down to four seconds.

Before he's able to catch and pass Fassler in the Corvette, both cars move in front of the #10 Oreca after Senna pits to hand over to Monteiro.

Closer and closer. One second separates the two cars and 19th beckons once more. Within the minute they cross the line, and Chris Dyson is already four seconds ahead of the Corvette. He's two minutes down on the leading GT1 Corvette, the #63, in 18th.

Chris moves back onto the first screen by passing the #4 Creation, which has been in the pits for several laps with suspected braking problems.

It's a brief moment, and within a couple of minutes Chris is back to 19th again as the LMP1 Oreca retakes the place. Chris then radios in to say he's encountered a problem. The car's still running, but he's lost speed. He's heading back to the pitlane in "limp-home" mode.

01:58 Pitstop ( Driver change: Dyson - Erdos )
Chris into the pitlane. While Chris scrambles out, Tommy Erdos climbs back in. Fuel and tyres. The fitting of the seat inserts takes a little longer than usual, and meanwhile the team cleans out the ducts as usual, removing the build up of rubber and debris from the apertures.

Hour 12 (02:00-03:00)

Tommy leaves the pitlane, but is on the radio within a couple of minutes to advise that the car has a misfire that can't be cured by changes to the mapping. Already the delay of Chris's slow in-lap and the driver change have cost the team several places, and Tommy is in 23rd overall, sixth in LMP2.

02:06 Pitstop ( Driver: Erdos )
Tommy into pitlane. The misfire has worsened. The car is refuelled and then hauled back into the garage. More news as we get it.

The team has checked over the engine, made a plug change (according to Radio Le Mans), and addressed a few other minor maintenance issues, and Tommy's been sent out again. Unfortunately, the refitted engine cover may not be located properly, as the RML Lola-Mazda has no rear lights, and he'll have to pit again straight away.

Tommy back in for the crew to re-connect the rear lights. It takes only a matter of seconds and he's back out.

All seems to be going well again, and Tommy has just set a lap of 3:48.984 for his first flyer of this stint, which is as quick as anyone else is going in LMP2 at present.

Tommy presses on with the car now lapping consistently, under his direction, in around 3:46 or thereabouts. The #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo has just pitted with Ajlani at the wheel, and that is RML's next target.

Tommy passes the #35 car to move into 23rd.

Hour 13 (03:00-04:00)

Photo: Peter May  / Dailysportscar

Half way . . .

03:01 Pitstop ( Driver: Erdos )
Tommy into the pitlane for a scheduled pitstop. Fuel, a dash of oil, and off on his way again.

A pitstop for the #1 Audi involves a quick detour via the garage for what is believed to be a clean-out of the R15's brake ducts. On departure, the car leaves a trail of fluid all the way out through the Dunlop Curve. On the entrance to the Esses, the #15 Kolles Audi is off, and so to a GT car. Phil Warns Tommy over the radio to beware both potential risks.

The #1 R15 has dropped to third as a result of the extended pitstop, so it's back to Peugeot one-two for the first time in many hours.

Tommy reports a lot of gravel on the track, and that he's picked up a bit of an imbalance in the tyres as a result.

03:43 Pitstop ( Driver Change: Erdos - Newton )
Tommy comes back into the pitlane to hand on to Mike. He exits from 22nd place, and looks likely to retain it, as Moreau also pits simultaneously in the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo. Mike heads out at 03:45, aware that the pit speed limiter is not functioning correctly.

03:47. A quick catch-up on the situation at the sharp end of LMP2, where the #31 Porsche continues to enjoy a generous advantage of a full three laps over the #5 Team Goh Porsche. The #33 Speedy Sebah Lola is another five laps behind, with three laps separating that car from the #30 Racing Box Lola-Judd, which has crept almost unnoticed through to fourth. The RML Lola-Mazda is now nearly two laps behind, but has made five additional pitstops.

Hour 14 (04:00-05:00)

His first timed lap completed, Mike is 22nd overall, fifth inLMP2.

There has been an horrific accident to the #17 Pescarolo Peugeot at the bottom of the Esses. There is a sombre silence throughout the Media centre and around the rack. An ambulance and other safety vehicles are hurrying to the scene. A safety car has been released.

Marshals at the scene have been able to open the door on the cockpit, but otherwise there have been no other movements from the car. Benoit Treluyer was on his out-lap having just taken on fuel and tyres. The marshals have surrounded the car with tarpaulin screens and there are several medics attending the scene.

The car had been running exceptionally well, and was the top-placed non-factory entry, holding fourth place overall. The Pescarolo-entered Peugeot had been many people's favourite for a win here this weekend, and the concerns and thoughts of everyone here go out to the driver, Benoit, and to Henri Pescarolo himself.

More cars are pitting under the safety car, Mike included.

News that Benoit has been removed from the car and will be transported to the circuit's Medical Centre. Benoit is a local guy - born not far north of here at Alencon. This is his fifth participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours, and his fourth appearance with Pescarolo.

The Safety Car persists, There has been a release from the ACO, but it tells us little more than we already know. The #30 Racing Box Lola has spun at Indianapolis, but recovers and resumes.

The remains of Benoit's car is being hoisted onto the back of a flatbed recovery vehicle. It is almost unrecognisable. No, it is totally unrecognisable. Apart from the fact that it has two wheels still attached, it would be hard to identify it as a car of any kind, let alone a closed coupé prototype. Covered with a tarpaulin and under cover of natural darkness, the #17 Pescarolo is ferried back towards the paddock.

In a poignant moment, Daniel Poissenot, Sport Vice President of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), has walked into the Pescarolo Garage to return Benoit's racing helmet to the team. That his helmet has been removed is actually a good sign, and the most up-to-date report suggests that he was able to communicate with the medics on his removal from the remains of his car.

The lights were briefly off on the safety car, but were then turned on again.

A well-synchronised restart from both safety cars - on the main straight and at Mulsanne and we're back in action.

To re-cap: The leader in LMP2 is the #31 Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder, 11th overall on 208 laps, from the Team Goh Porsche, 13th. Third is the \33 Speedy Sebah Lola, now with Jonny Kane in the cockpit. The two Corvettes are back in the thick of the LMP2 front-runners again, and holding 16th and 17th.

Fourth in LMP2 is the No. 30 Racing Box Lola, for the time being at least. The car pitted under the safety car, but is still there. Mike Newton holds 22nd overall, fifth in LMP2.

The Racing Box Lola resumes, but Mike has taken advantage of its 6-minute pitstop to move ahead.

Hour 15 (05:00-06:00)

05:00 Pitstop ( Driver: Newton )
Scheduled pitstop for Mike for fuel and a quick clean-up. Mike was held at the end of the pitlane for a very long time before being released back onto the track.

Racing Box into the garage having limped back to the pitlane with evident signs of damage. It is assumed that the car has dumped fluids on the track, and as a result there's another Safety Car period. The Lola looks set for a lengthy stop.

Many cars are taking this safety car period as another excuse for a pitstop.

Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC

Both leading Porsches are not only in the pitlane, but also into their garages. New nose for the No.5 Team Goh car, and should be quite a quick bodywork replacement, but the Team Essex appears to be having major work carried out to the rear.

Both Porsches back on track, so not the delay predicted.

Phil Bennett in the Barazi Zytek has been wheeled back into the garage, and the No. 35 Oak Racing Pescarolo appears to have suffered a blown turbo on the exit from the pitlane, but has pressed on regardless, trailing thick white smoke.

Dawn is starting to break above the eastern grandstands, and the first hints of azure blue and orange are starting to wash across the clouds. This is a difficult period for the drivers, as their eyes adjust to the changing light, and their minds remind them that they really ought to be tucked up in bed, asleep.

The safety cars finally peel away at the end of most bizarre safety car period because there was no obvious reason for it. It's likely that a succession of minor incidents contributed to the "full-course yellow", including debris left over from Benoit Treluyer's accident; fluid deposited on the track after the #5 Goh Porsche rammed the #30 Racing Box Lola up the rear; and problems for the Flying Lizards Porsche at the second chicane (possibly terminal).

There was very nearly another major accident immediately after the restart after Peter Hardman spun the #23 Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek as he accelerated across the line. Then, in his attempts to turn the car round, ended up broadside across the track. He was still there when the next pack came thundering through, and he was lucky not to get collected as they swept by.

Mike Newton remains in the cockpit of the RML Lola, running in 20th position overall, fourth in LMP2.

Hour 16 (06:00-07:00)

It appears that the #30 Racing Box Lola is the latest retirement. Andrea Piccini walks away from his sadly defunct car. The #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo, which was seen leaving the pitlane enshrouded in smoke some time ago, has now been hauled back into its garage for the best part of ten minutes and shows little sign of reappearing.

Confirmation that Flying Lizard's Porsche has been officially retired.

Mike is complaining of poor visibility heading towards the dawn. Under the Dunlop Bridge and down the Mulsanne, he can hardly see where he's going. This is a combination of grime and pitting on the windscreen itself, and the glare of the low-down sun.

Photo: Peter May / Dailysportscar06:13 Pitstop
( Driver Change: Newton - Dyson )

Mike into the pitlane, driver change with Chris Dyson, refuel and tyres.

Chris Dyson is clearly into the swing of things, setting laps in the sub-Fifties - his last was a 3:48.080, and that was second-fastest in class on present form.

Two more semi-official retirements to announce. The Hankook Ferrari is one, and the other is, it seems, the Bruichladdich Radical. Despite the team's tremendous work in rebuilding the car after it was dismissed by the 009 Aston Martin.

Jonny Kane pits the #3 Speedy Sebah Lola from 14th overall, third in LMP2. Xavier Pompdou is preparing to step aboard. Chris Dyson overtakes the #73 Corvette to move into 19th.

06:57 Pitstop. ( Driver: Dyson )
Just under the hour and Chris Dyson came into the pitlane for his scheduled stop for fuel. An unfussy visit, no issues, and Chris back on track in a little over a minute.

Hour 17 (07:00-08:00)

Time for a recap:
LMP1: David Brabham leads overall in the #9 Peugeot, with Franck Montagny second in the #8 just two minutes behind. Third place is still occupied by Tom Kristensen in the #1 Audi, who must be nearing the end of a quadruple stint.
LMP2: Kristien Poulsen leads the class for Team Essex by two laps from Kunimoto in the Team Goh Porsche RS Spyder. Third, and only two minutes back down the track, is Xavier Pompidou. Chris Dyson still holds on to fourth, 19th overall, for RML AD Group.
GT1: A characteristically impressive 14th overall for the #63 Corvette, currently with Antonio Garcia in the driving seat by a lap-and-a-half from Marcel Fassler in the sister car. Third, but several laps further down the road, lies the only surviving Luc Alphand Corvette, #73.
GT2: The battle here has swung wildly between perhaps half a dozen possible contenders. The surprise retirement early on Saturday evening of the #77 Felbermayr Porsche left the field wide open, and the #82 Risi Competitzione Ferrari has picked up the baton, and has a two-lap lead over the JMW Dunlop sponsored Ferrari F430.

Photo: Peter May / Dailysportscar07:19
The #33 Sebah Lola is into the pitlane again It's only half a dozen laps since it was here last time. The team is examining the alternator.

Chris is offered a third stint, and accepts. He'll complete his next pitstop for fuel shortly. Elsewhere, the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo has rejoined the race. Rumours of its earlier demise have been grossly exaggerated.

07:25 - 07:28
The TV producer follows Chris and the RML Lola Mazda for an entire lap. Xavier Pompidou resumes the race, in 18th position.

Aston #008, currently 9th, appears to have suffered an engine failure. Lots of white oily smoke, but it makes its way back to the garage, where it's wheeled away and the mechanics start scurrying all around the car's rear end.

07:41 Pitstop. ( Driver: Dyson )
Chris is into the pitlane for a straight refuel and away.

It is hard to credit that the length of a full Le Mans Seres race remains to be run.

The RML Lola-Mazda finally moves back onto screen one.

Photo: Peter May  / Dailysportscar

Hour 18 (08:00-09:00)

Nic Minassian sets fastest race lap overall, with a new best for the #7 Peugeot of 3:24.352.

08:20 Pitstop. ( Driver Change: Dyson - Erdos)
A slightly lengty pitstop to see Thomas Erdos into the cockpit of the RML Lola. The little red, white and blue Lola seemingly can't escape the turn of the page, and it continues to oscillate between the top of screen two and the base of the first of the three timing screens. The pitstop drops the car back to 19th overall.

A lengthy gap with little to report, but that's now changed with the arivl of the #23 Ginetta-Zytek in the pitlane, and it's transfer from pit apron to Strakka Racing garage. It looks quite serious.

Photo: Peter May / Dailysportscar08:55
The #23 Strakka LMP1 car is still in the garage, and as a result it has started to slip down the order. Tommy moves up to 18th overall again, as Nick Leventis in the black Relentless-sponsored GZ09S drops off the bottom of the first screen.

Tommy's laptimes have been remarkably consistent, Each one is a 3:47, give or take half a second or so. It's impressive pace this late in the race, and is helping to ease the RML Lola forward steadily. On lap 254, Tommy is two minutes behind the #12 Oreca LMP1 and three laps adrfit of third in LMP2.

Hour 19 (09:00-10:00)

Three quarters distance. A mere six hours remaining.

09:13 Pitstop. ( Driver: Erdos )
Tommy into the pitlane for a very swift and efficient refuelling stop. The guys also cleared out the vents and apertures and topped up the oil.

Having mentioned the Strakka Racing GZ09S, a follow-up to note that the car's woes were electrical - the Zytek engine refused to re-start - but the team made a driver change and put Danny Watts back into the car, and he left again at just after twenty-past. The car resumed in 22nd overall.

09:30 Class Update
1st in class, 11th overall, the #31 Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder on 278 laps
2nd in class, 12th overall, the #5 Team Goh Porsche RS Spyder on 275 laps
3rd in class, 16th overall, the #33 Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola-Judd on 265 laps
4th in class, 18th overall, the #25 RML AD Group Lola-Mazda on 263 laps
5th in class, 20th overall, the #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo on 259 laps

Another major accident in race that has already seen too many accidents. One of the Lola Aston Martins, believed to be Primat in the #009, has gone off into the tyre wall at the same spot where Andy had his accident in 2007, and Mike got airborne last year. Primat appears to be OK.

Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC

09:36 SAFETY CAR Pitstop ( Driver: Erdos )
Tommy is one of most who elect to make a pitstop during this safety car period. Tomy stays in for another stint, on the same tyres.

One of the Kolles Audis, #15, has snapped sideways behind the safety car and slammed nose-on into the barriers.

Photo: David Lord / Dailysportscar09:48 PART RESTART
The pack at the main pit straight has released the cars behind it, whereas the second safety car has not. Now the organisers are trying to reassert their control by waving cars past one pace car and collect them with the other . . .perhaps. No, all cars now racing again, although some confusion.

The damaged Kolles car is making a very slow return to the pitlane.

The #3 Audi R15 has gone off on the left-hand element at Indianapolis.

Hour 20 (10:00-11:00)

The JMB Ferrari has lost a wheel at Arnage and is struggling back to the pits very slowly.

Tommy reports a loss of power. He says the car feels like it's running on only one cylinder, and it's "really bad". He is heading back towards the pits very slowly.

The RML Lola is entering the Porsche Curves.

10:19 Pitstop ( Driver Change: Erdos - Newton )
Into the pit lane, and straight into the garage. Mike and Tommy swap places.

There are reports of very light rain at the Esses.

The car is hauled out onto the pit apron for Mike to set off, but as soon as the engines fires up, Mike can tell from the jangling noises from behind him that things are not right, so the engine is switched off and the #25 Lola returns to the garage. In the adjacent garage, the #4 Creation is following a similar routine, and has also just been pulled back into its garage. The rain seems to have abated.

Mike climbs out of the car.

It has been officially confirmed that the RML Lola Mazda #25 has retired from the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC

Please also refer to final Press Release

The Le Mans 2009 gallery can be accessed here

Le Mans 24 Hours 2009

Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France
Race to Finish - Sunday June 14th 2009