- Race Day at Le Mans
Saturday morning warm-up kicked off at nine,
with 47 of the 55 taking immediately to the
damp track. The rain overnight had been torrential
and relentless, right through until around
seven. The deluge then eased, and finally
petered out at half-eight. Puddles remained
around the circuit, and the cars that stayed
out beyond the first installation lap trailed
a light plume of spray down the pit straight,
windscreen wipers working hard to clear the
moisture from their screens. It was much worse
around other sectors of the track.
Erdos was among that first group, but returned
to the pitlane after his out-lap. Conditions
were making life difficult for the higher-powered
prototypes, and the top running P1s aside,
some of the faster times were being set by
the GT2 runners. The #29 Racing Box Lola was
one to suffer, with Pirri setting a fairly
quick time before ending up in the gravel
at the first chicane. Seventh quickest overall
was Tony Vilander in the #95 Ferrari 430,
getting the better of more than twenty prototypes.
installation lap complete, Tommy was back
out again to work through the RML checklist.
This time the warm-up would not follow the
team's usual routine, and with the changed
conditions Erdos would occupy the #25 cockpit
for the entire forty-five minutes. With fifteen
of those completed, all fifty-five runners
had been out for at least one lap.
pushing even just a smidgeon over the limit
was being punished. Jonny Kane, usually ultra
cautious despite his undoubted speed, got
caught at Arnage, and joined a list that included
Lotterer in the #8 Audi and Farnbacher in
his Hankook sponsored #89 Ferrari that had
ended up in sliproad, no damage done.
of the first to come to terms with the slippery
conditions was the rainmeister himself; Tommy
Erdos. His first flying lap would be a 4:20.973,
and at the time, good enough for 6th overall,
but a drying line was starting to appear,
and with that, times did start to drop, even
if only marginally. In 1995, when Tommy made
his debut at Le Mans with Team Marcos, the
rain during the night was widely remembered
as being amongst the heaviest known at Le
Mans in recent times, but the Brazilian thought
nothing of it, and was, for perhaps two hours
or more, among the fastest on the track.
of those having trouble with the damp managed
to get away with their indiscretions lightly,
but Tim Greaves in the #41 Bruichladdich Ginetta
Zytek crumped the front-left corner lightly
into a barrier, and had to return for repairs.
Several, including Nigel Mansell in the #5,
and Stefan Mucke in the 007 Aston Martin had
to negotiate the tyre barriers on the Mulsanne
chicanes having missed their braking points.
been extracted from the gravel at the first
chicane once, Pirri then repeated the exercise
in exactly the same place for a second time.
Fifteen minutes remained when the timing screens
still had a strangely topsy-turvy appearance.
The LMP1 prototypes remained fastest, but
Erdos and Warren Hughes aside, nearly all
the other LMP2 prototypes had fallen victim
to the conditions, and were being out-paced
by the GT2 Ferraris, Porsches and Chevrolets.
the final ten minutes, Marco Werner joined
the top-paced LMP2 runners in the Highcroft
HPD, posting an impressive (under the circumstances)
4:08.262, but this aside, and a general shuffling
of the overall order, there was little of
remained in the '#25 Lola HPD throughout,
working on collecting data for a wet set up
should it be needed for the race. As the chequered
flag flew, the prospects certainly didn't
look good. The broken clouds that had allowed
a dry-ish line to develop had filled once
more, and a light drizzle was starting to
fall. As the saying goes . . . "it always
rains at Le Mans."
Times - Warm-up Times
Highcroft HPD: 4:08.262 (13th)
RML Lola HPD: 4:20.973 (18th)
Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek: 4:23.160 (19th)
KSM Lola Judd: 4:32.770 (23rd)
Pegasus Norma: 4:35.266 (31st)
Strakka Racing HPD: 4:44.831 (43rd)
Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek: 4:49.818 (44th)
Racing Box Lola Judd: 4:52.655 (46th)
Racing Performance Radical: 6:34.636 (50th)
Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd: 6:39.578 (51st)
Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd: 6:54.422 (52nd)
WR Salini Zytek: 10:31.921 (55th)
support races were staged during the early morning.
The Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup France nine-lapper
was won by Sylvian Noel, with Britain's Tim Harvey
third. This was followed by a thrilling, and at
times heartbreaking Group C Legends race. The
win eventually went to Justin Law in the ex-TWR
Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-9, but not before there had
been several accidents, incidents, and examples
of very spirited driving.
Berridge (Mercedes-Benz C11) took to the gravel
first time through Dunlop, but recovered remarkably
to reach 7th before sustaining a puncture. He
pitted for new tyres, and started another fight-back
that looked set to net another top-ten position,
before the rubber let him down again. He finished
12th. Nathan Kinch also had a promising run, setting
fastest lap in GTP, before mechanical issues intervened.
Alex Buncome was forced to retire his XJR-9, but
Gary Pearson finished third in the XJR-11. Second
went to Gary Evans in the #23 Nissan R88C.
the stands began to fill, the pitlane entertainment
began. Cheerleaders, a display of electric and
"alternative" powered race cars, a drive-by
from a small selection of Rondeau racing cars
and a parade of Corvettes filled in the time before
the pitlane opened and the first of this year's
competitors began pushing their cars out onto
the tarmac, and RML was there, keen and eager
amongst the first group.
"Class of 2010" group photo for all
the drivers was staged at quarter to two, complete
with "Miss 24 Hours 2010", and with that completed,
the process of clearing the grid began.
year, a change in "tradition",
or an attempt to hark back to an old one, with
the designated starting drivers taking up their
positions on the grass opposite their cars and
then "running" across the track to
be strapped into their cars. It was all very
new to the drivers, and we had a "false
this year, when God Save
the Queen was being
played. Most were already into their cars before
realisation dawned that they'd have to do it
all over again . . . after the Marseillaise.
their race suits, and helmeted, the drivers
returned to their white circles, marked on
the grass like some vestige of a satanic rite,
and prepare themselves for another sprint.
Most didn't bother, and there was a mix of
serious runners and lethargic strollers as
they headed for their cars.
aboard, their team engineers had seven minutes
to help them strap in before the signal to "start
your engines". It was 2:15.
minutes later and a procession with the green
flag started moving down the grid, releasing the
cars one-by-one on the parade or "siting"
lap. Aside from a spin by the #12 Rebellion Lola,
and a puncture for the Flying Lizards Porsche,
it was an uneventful lap, with of the cars then
taking the opportunity to visit the pitlane to
refuel, check tyres and assess the first-lap data
before heading back out again - some to do it
again, others to take up their correct positions
on the grid.
coverage was being prepared "live" and
was uploaded regularly, sometimes several
times each minute, during the course of
the race. Apologies for variations in tense,
as some items were edited or added
#2 Peugeot made a very slow parade lap, but took
up its position on the second row without pausing
at all. Could a ploy to save fuel. All 55 cars
took up their positions on the grid - the largest
collection of sports and GT cars to race at Le
Mans for over fifty years. At 2:42, all the slots
were filled and the pitlane closed.
to three and the cars moved off the grid on the
formation lap. The now-traditional stirring anthem
music blared out from the public address system,
as eyes craned to see the massive TV screens at
either end of the grandstand complex.
in formation by the pace car, the leaders set
off up the hill towards the Dunlop Chicane. Headlights
ablaze, the cars weave from side to side as they
try to maintain, or generate extra heat into their
tyres. Four Peugeots, three Audis, two Astons
and the rest of the LMP1 field, the big names
to the fore, followed by Jonny Kane heading off
LMP2 for Strakka, with David Brabham directly
behind for Highcroft, and then Tommy Erdos, across
on the right. Some are weaving heavily, others
just a slight twitch from left to right.
the cars enter the Porsche Curves, the sounds
of Mars from Holst's Planets Suite rise above
the sound of the crowd, the thumping timpanis
building to a crescendo as the leaders hove into
view. With a puff of smoke from the rear engine
cover, Pedro Lamy brings the pole-sitting Peugeot
through the final complex and out onto the pit
straight . . . .
Start (Designated driver: Thomas
holds the pace for a few moments longer, and
then, with a roar - at least from the petrol-powered
cars - the leaders accelerate away up the pit
straight, the sound of each exhaust note combined
and multiplied by the echoes from the surrounding
grandstands. It's a remarkably clean start,
and as the field streams up through Dunlop,
down the hill the other side, and out into Tetre
Rouge, there are no major place changes.
LMP2 leaders also make a clean start, Jonny
Kane dicing with Paul Drayson, but then easing
in behind as the Lola makes its extra power
show. David Brabham on the Strakka HPDs tail
and Tommy tucked in behind.
there are no changes in order, Allan McNish
is trying to do something about it. He's all
over the tail of the #4 Oreca Pug, and filling
Lapierre's mirrors with red and silver R15.
He tries time and again to take the place, pulling
alongside on the run between Mulsanne chicanes,
and again into Indianapolis, but the 908 has
the edge, and shuts the door each time.
cars complete the first lap without any
obvious change of position anywhere through
the field, although the #19 Autocon Lola
is slowing. In LMP2, the leaders cross the
line, Kane just behind Drayson's Lola, and
Brabham a fraction of a second behind, followed
by Erdos and then Pla (below)in the '#40
ASM Ginetta Zytek. Next up is the #35 Oak
Pescarolo, with the #29 Racing Box Lola sixth.
The KSM Lola is close behind, despite its
relative age, and showing strongly in the
hands of de Pourtales. There's then a lengthy
gap to the #24, the Bruichladdich GZ, the
Pegasus and then the WR Salini.
#72 Corvette pits at the end of the first lap,
and the Autocon Lola has stopped on the run
between Arnage Corner and the start of the Porsche
are starting to develop throughout the field,
some significant. Lamy leads by a generous margin
over Montagny and Gene, these two in a tight
duel over second. Lapierre remains fourth, and
there's now air between him and McNish.
LMP2, Jonny Kane retains his grip on Drayson's
tail, and Brabham holds brief a couple of car
length's behind. There's a few seconds now back
to Tommy in third, and a lesser margin to Pla
in fourth. Already these four are streets ahead
of the #35 Pescarolo in fifth., while the #29
Racing Box Lola is still in touch.
The leaders on to their fifth lap, and the first
major incident of the race. Nigel Mansell in
the #5 Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek spins
off into the barriers on the fast run down towards
Indianapolis, and hits the Armco hard. The rear
right takes a heavy impact, and there's serious
damage to the suspension and bodywork. It's
not clear yet what caused him to lose control,
but there already appeared to be debris on the
track, or perhaps oil - suspected to have come
from the GT2 Jaguar, which has had engine problems.
(Beechdean later suggested that a slow puncture
had given rise to the accident)
safety cars are immediately deployed, and one
picks up Jonny Kane in the #42 Strakka Racing
HPD. There is some delay getting Nigel Mansell
out of the cockpit, and a whole array of emergency
vehicles arrive on the scene.
safely extracted from the car and taken of in
an ambulance for a routine check. Although his
car is quite quickly cleared from the trackside,
it the safety cars continue to circulate. The
issue concerning Audi is that one of the safety
cars has managed to get in between the leading
four Peugeots and Allan McNish. Considering
the gap was only three seconds, that's quite
an achievement. Regrettably, the second safety
car leading McNish then proceeds to circulate
a full minute per laps slower than the other,
allowing a huge gap to develop between the two
has a problem with the dashboard instruments
on his steering wheel, and he ducks into
the pitlane , leaving the queue, and heads
for the garage. The team check the instruments
and reprogramme the dash. It comes back
on, and the stop is brief, but he loses
many places. "We had an issue
with the ECU. The technicians
had reprogrammed it to last longer
than usual during the race, but they’d
not tried the settings previously, and
it failed," explained Phil Barker. "It
hadn't stopped us from starting the race,
and it seemed to work OK at first, but within
a lap Tommy had no dashboard and he had to
change gear on the limiter, which is not
ideal. Mansell’s incident and
the resulting safety car was fortunately
timed for us, but we could have run to the
end of the stint if necessary."
"I was very glad to get it working again,"
said Tommy afterwards. "We had no electrics
at all – no
dash, no traction control, no rev counter,
no shift lights, nothing. Not having the traction
control, when you’re racing against other
cars that do, is a huge disadvantage, not only
with car control and performance, but also
in the way you can look after the tyres," he
in 46th position overall, one lap down on
the class leaders.
third safety car is introduced.
Cars on the start-finish line begin racing again,
headed by Jonny Kane in the #42 Lola. They are
released twenty seconds before the second group
at Arnage, where the #29 Lola promptly goes
for a spin on the exit.
LMP2, Kane leads from Brabham, with Pla third
and Moreau in the #35 Pescarolo fourth. They're
running 1th through 17th overall, and have all
overtaken the Drayson Lola #11, but Drayson
himself regains two positions soon after the
his lowly position among the tail enders, Tommy
is having to work back through the traffic and
within a lap has risen to 27th from 46th.
Confirmation that the Beechdean Mansell Ginetta
Zytek is the first official retirement.
anticipated, the safety cars have not been kind
to Audi, and McNish's three second gap on the
leaders has grown to fifty. In the interim,
Lapierre pitted the #4 and lost a handful of
places to emerge in seventh.
As we near the end of the first hour, Tommy
has moved through to 23rd overall, and
stands 7th in class. He's lapping ten seconds
quicker than Yvon in the #24 Oak Pescarolo
ahead of him, and only Kane and Brabham
The first pitstop window has now effectively
opened, with the leaders having completed 13
laps. Tommy's enforced pitstop means he's one
ahead of the rest already, but he's now overtaken
the #24 Oak, and is gunning for de Pourtales
in the #29.
Kane leads by thirteen seconds over David Brabham,
and has the #6 Oreca and the #11 Drayson Lola
stuck between. Pla is thirteen seconds further
behind. Tommy has just been lapped by Lamy,
who leads overall by five seconds over Gene,
up to second in the #1 Peugeot.
Erdos up to fifth in LMP2, having comfortably
overtaken the #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo. This
brings the Brazilian back up onto the first
of the three timing screens. Not long ago he
was near the bottom of the third!
Kane's lead has extended now to 17 seconds over
Brabham. The #50 Saleen is being pushed down
the pitlane by the mechanics.
There's been a coming together between one of
the Oak Pescarolos, probably the #24, and the
#6 Oreca Matmut AIM. Both cars continue, but
not without a spin, and the #6 subsequently
overtakes the #35 Oak Pescarolo for fourth in
LMP2. The gap to Olivier Pla is just 13 seconds.
The #50 Larbre Saleen has resumed racing.
All LMP1 cars now back in sequence, with Drayson
and Ayari (#11 and #6) ahead of Kane, but with
Ayari now in the pitlane being attended to,
the #42 Strakka HPD is likely to regain 16th
#39 KSM Lola is reported as circulating slowly.
Timing screens confirm that Jonny Kane has passed
the pit-bound Oreca #6.
leading factory Peugeots are still running one-two-three,
and with barely a hair's breadth between them.
Well, in truth, it's eight-tenths of a second
between Lamy and Montagny (now back ahead of
Gene in their on-going tussle) and less than
a second between these two. They're dicing through
the tail-enders like a strangely flexible caterpillar.
The Racing Performance Radical #28 (44th overall
and last in LMP2 at the moment) has gone off
into the gravel on the exit of the second chicane.
The car appears to have sustained a puncture.
Ayari's problems seem to continue, and he's
now had a nudge with one of the Aston Lolas.
Luckily no damage this time. He's running 17th,
and sandwiched between Kane and Brabham.
has narrowed the gap on Olivier Pla to just
8 seconds. The ASM Quifel Ginetta Zytek is now
easily visible just a few hundred yards up the
Thomas Erdos. Fuel and screen clean)
comes in for what should have been his first
scheduled pitstop. The team refuel the car and
clean the windscreen, but otherwise it's straight
in the #76 Porsche loses control on the way
into the first Mulsanne Chicane and spins off
across the gravel, sliding across the track
at the exit directly in front of Tommy, now
well into his out-lap.
up the road, Jonny Kane continues his class-leading
run for Strakka. In 15th position overall, he's
68 seconds ahead of David Brabham now. The Australian
and last year's winner here at Le Mans holds
third from Pla by 17 seconds. Jan Charouz has
taken over in the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo,
in fourth, after Tommy's second pitstop, and
holds the position comfortably.
traffic, Montagny has taken the overall lead
Another mishap for KSM, but de Pourtales recovers
quickly and presses on.
Montagny pits and Lamy resumes as leader. McNish
then pits from fourth.
Things have settled down for a while now, with
all the main runners pitting in sequence still.
Jonny Kane leads LMP2 by over a minute from
David Brabham. The gap to Pla is 20 seconds.
battle in LMP2 between the two Aston Martin
Lolas. They're disputing 8th place overall,
and taking no quarter. Stefan Mucke (#007) just
has the edge on Darren Turner (#008) and there's
little more than traffic between them.
The glorious BMW "art car", #79, has
pulled off at the first Mulsanne chicane. It
has a rear left puncture, and is now making
a leisurely journey back to the pits, Dirk Muller
probably all-too conscious of damaging that
The #70 MarcVDS Ford GT has had a major off
at the foot of the Esses, going backwards heavily
into the tyre wall. There's a strange image
on the monitors of the car's rear, with wheels
still spinning wildly, but no rear bodywork.
Judging by the state of the armco, it looks
to have been a very heavy impact. Regional yellows
at the moment, but if the Armco is seriously
rearranged, this may necessitate another safety
Jan Charouz pits the #35 Oak Pescarolo from
4th in LMP2. Strakka has also pitted, and Jonny
Kane has handed over to Danny Watts. On the
next lap through, Brabham pits to pass over
driving duties to Marino Franchitti.
the start of the third hour most of the leading
group in LMP2 have completed their second scheduled
pitstops, with the exception of Tommy Erdos,
who has his yet to come. He's currently second
in class as a result, but will probably lose
two or three places when he visits the pits
#70 Ford GT is attempting to return to the pits,
but clearly has serious geometry problems. The
left-rear is oscillating wildly, and there are
bits falling off at the rear.
considering Kane's first-stint pace, and Tommy's
extra pitstop, the RML Lola is still on the
class leader's lap, albeit a minute down.
Franchitti in the Highcroft HPD has lost a place
to Olivier Pla, possibly in the pits. The gap
is only four seconds, but the loss can be accounted
for by a lengthier pitstop by the Highcroft
The Ford GT has arrived at Mulsanne Corner,
just as Pla and Franchitti sweep by, now nose-to-tail.
Franchitti's last lap was three seconds quicker.
Franchitti recovers second on the entry into
Indianapolis and soon starts to ease clear.
Watts is setting a fiery pace, and has just
posted a 3:43. That's nearly three seconds faster
than Franchitti, and easily quickest in the
class, at present.
#70 Ford GT gets back to the pits. The back
of the car looks very sad.
leads again from Lamy, with Gene third, all
for Team Peugeot Total. The privateer Oreca
Peugeot 908 is fourth, with Allan McNish fifth
now setting three-forties. Tommy is just 24
seconds ahead of Marino Franchitti, so is likely
to lose that place, at least, when he pits soon
Change: Erdos out, Mike Newton in. Fuel, Tyres
& screen clean)
Clean and unflustered pitstop and driver change
from RML's experienced crew with Mike Newton
strapped in and away in good time. "We
were very happy with the way the Dunlop tyres
performed," said Tommy. "We were able to triple-stint
each set with minimal drop-off in grip and
performance, and that was very important for
Possible puncture or front-right body damage
to the #3 Peugeot, from second place. Lamy presses
on at speed, but is trailing smoke from the
The #3 Peugeot has made it back to the pits,
and the team is beavering away to make good
the repairs. Could be just a brief stop, unless
the suspension is damaged. Both the #7 and #9
Audis pitted simultaneously.
pitstop situation in LMP2 has now resolved itself,
and Watts leads Franchitti by well over a minute.
Olivier Pla retains third, with the Oak Racing
#35 fourth and Mike Newton, now in the cockpit
of the #25, fifth.
in class is de Pourtales in the #39 KSM Lola,
with Karim Ojeh seventh in the Bruichladdich
Ginetta Zytek, and #24 eighth, and the #29 9th.
This group is neatly bunched between the #12
Rebellion Lola (16th overall) and the #60 Ford
leading the GT category. The rest of the LMP2
runners are way down the order; #38 next up
but 37th overall, the #37 WR Salini in 42nd,
and the #28 Race Performance Radical 50th.
The #3 Peugeot remains in the garage, and the
prognosis is not good. Sebastian Bourdais had
been prepared to clamber into the cockpit but
had been tuned away by the team, and looked
totally disconsolate on the TV monitors. There
seems to be a marked lack of activity around
the car, perhaps suggesting that the damage
is more serious than we'd first thought.
The #3 Pug continues to tumble down the order,
and is 21st overall now.
Newton has got into his stride, and on the last
lap was four seconds quicker than the #35 Pescarolo,
37 seconds ahead of him on the track. It's a
long chase, but it's heading in the right direction.
remarkably, the #19 Autocon Lola, which
failed to complete the opening lap, has
just been credited with finishing that 15
kilometre circuit. It could be the car's
on the back of a recovery vehicle, of course
. . .which turns out to be the case.
Terminal gearbox problems for the former
Synergy racing Lola. It will ultimately be
recorded as the race's first retirement.
Mike moves through to take third, overtaking
the #35 Oak as the Pescarolo makes its pitstop.
The #28 Racing Performance Radical is in the
gravel at Indianapolis.
the race approaches the end of the third hour,
the positions in LMP2 are . . .
Strakka Racing HPD (15th)
Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek (18th)
Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd (19th)
Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek (21st)
Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd (22nd)
Racing Box Lola Judd (23rd)
WR Salini Zytek
Pegasus Norma: 6:39.578 (44th)
Race Performance Radical (48th)
The Spyker goes off at Indianapolis, and recovers
the track, but on his way through the Porsche
Curves, collides with the #38 Norma LMP2, and
both cars are seriously damaged. The Spyker
is backed into the garage, but the Pegasus us
struggling to get back to the garage.
The Pegasus Norma gets back to the pitlane.
It would appear that the driver; da Rocha, was
attempting to get out of the way of one of the
leaders, about to lap him, and may not have
realised that Peter Dumbrek in the Spyker was
circulating slowly after his accident at Indianapolis.
retirements are now: Lola #19, Jaguar #81, Beechdean
Mansell #5, and the #3 Peugeot.
Anthony Davidson leads in the #1 Peugeot from
Stephane Sarrazin in the #2, and the #4 third.
Tom Kristensen has taken over from Allan McNish
in the #7.
Mike Newton. Fuel & screen clean only)
Mike Newton into the pits for a routine pitstop.
It's a fuel and screen-clean only, plus an
attempt to revive the pump on his drinks bottle.
"Mike’s first stint was extremely
good," said Phil Barker. "I couldn’t
believe how well he started, considering how
little time he’d
had in the car."
Warren Hughes is hustling along in the ASM Quifel
car, #42, and running a strong 3rd in LMP2.
He's just set a new quickest lap for the car,
and pulling away from the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo.
The gap's now 12 seconds. Mike Newton is another
The WR Salini spins through the Ford Chicane,
ending up dangerously breached across the track.
Philip Salini himself in the cockpit gets it
going again, but the pace is very average.
contrast, Danny Watts in the class-leading Strakka
Racing HPD is setting laps that would look quite
acceptable from an LMP1 car. His last was a
3:40, but he's been going quicker than that,
and three-thirty-sixes have been regular. Another
picking up the is whoever's at the wheel of
the #35, who's just set a new fastest lap for
the car of 3:44.378.
transpires that the Norma was actually hit into
the Spyker by one of the factory Audi R15s,
and our apologies to Christian Albers (at the
wheel of the #15 Kolles Audi) for an earlier
misunderstanding over "Audi" and "15".
Warren Hughes (Quifel ASM) and the #35 Oak Racing
Pescarolo both pit, for scheduled refuelling.
Quifel had a slightly extended pitstop last
time round to investigate an overheating issue,
which they attributed to duct tape obscuring
part of the inlet.
for the class leader in LMP2. Such was the gap
over Franchitti in second that Watts resumed
still leading the class.
True enough, Watts retains his lead over Franchitti,
who pits two laps later and swaps places with
Marco Werner. Highcroft reckon they can consistently
go a lap further on a tank than Strakka, but
with the margin the #42 now enjoys, the compromise
between pace and economy is insufficient to
give Highcroft any obvious track advantage.
Mike is setting a good pace for a "sportsman"
driver - in other words, a non-professional
- and is holding his own very well. The gap
to the #35 is pretty much the same as it was
when Mike took over, some hours ago, and stands
at about 70 seconds. He's trading times with
Jonathan Kennard in the #39 KSM Lola give or
take a couple of seconds here and there, and
remains a lap ahead of the German Lola.
Norma Judd remains stationary in the garage
under repair. The team has hopes of getting
the new car, making its race debut here this
week, back out and into the race again as soon
as they can.
back to the morning, it seems hard to credit
that a day that started with torrential rain
could be heading towards an evening under bright,
almost cloudless blue skies and baking hot track
conditions. The sun is now dipping down behind
the grandstands, and crisply defined shadows
are lengthening across the circuit. We've now
witnessed four hours of, at times, exciting
and dramatic racing. Who'd have expected Nigel
Mansell's "Red 5" to be one of the
first retirements? The sports headline writers
in the UK will be scratching their heads in
search of a suitable pun. In similar vein, few
would have predicted such a dominant opening
stint from Peugeot. Despite help from the safety
car incident, precipitated by Mansell's accident,
they've shown consistent pace and good pitwork
to establish a two-minute lead over the first-placed
Audi, the #7 R15 of McNish, Kristensen and Capello.
Newton out, Andy Wallace in. Fuel, tyres &
Mike hands over to Andy Wallace. Officially,
this marks Andy's 21st appearance here at Le
Mans. In last night's drivers' parade, the crowds
still cheered loudest for Andy, thanks largely
to his famous win here for Jaguar in 1988. Few
win on their debut, and fewer still can claim
to have done so in such a memorable way.
Werner sets a new fastest lap for the #26 Highcroft
HPD. He's still a lap down on Watts in the leading
Strakka HPD, but he was a second quicker on
that last lap. It seems the transponders in
the Oak Racing Pescarolos are not functioning
correctly, as they are unable to identify the
mentioned them much, but the lead battle in
GT1 continues apace. The #60 Ford GT of Grosjean
leads the first of the two Luc Alphand Corvettes
by nearly a minute, 23rd overall. GT2 is being
lead by Pierre Kaffer in the #82 Risi Competizione
Ferrari 430, which took pole in the class but
then had to start from the back of the grid
after failing post-qualifying scrutineering.
Second place is held by Manu Collard in the
Slow lap for the #79 Artcar BMW.
In an attempt to avoid hitting the slow-moving
#79 BMW, which was drifting across the track,
Kristensen is forced into the gravel at the
entrance to the Porsche Curves, and thumps into
the tyre wall. There's some damage to the rear.
He's extracted from the gravel by a snatch vehicle,
and dragged back to the sliproad. The car will
be full of gravel, as well as damaged.
#79 meanwhile makes it back to the garage, where
the unrelated damage is swiftly repaired, and
Andy Priaulx rejoins the race.
Kristensen is back on the hard stuff, and heading
back towards the pits. Meanwhile, there is a
heated exchange of words between Audi's Dr Wolfgang
Ulrich and the BMW team. Clearly no love lost
on this occasion.
Andy Wallace has nearly completed his first
half-hour, and is settling down to a steady
pace in the mid forties. Several of the class
leaders have pitted this lap, including Danny
Watts (Strakka), Warren Hughes (#40 ASM), and
the #35 Oak. This may allow him to close the
gap a little.
Leventis takes over driving duties in the Strakka
HPD. The #24 Oak has just set a new fastest
lap (no indication of driver) but 3:51.143 is
way slower than either its team mate, #35, or
the likes of Watts, Hughes and Erdos.
Leventis leads LMP2 by 100 seconds over Marco
Werner, and is running 14th overall. The Highcroft
racer is a lap clear of Warren Hughes in third.
Lahaye in the #35 Pescarolo is a further 32
seconds behind, and then Andy Wallace in fifth.
Pitstop for Highcroft. Fuel only.
the leading group in LMP2 have completed their
fifth pitstops, except Andy Wallace, who needs
to make the car's sixth. He's currently fifth
Wallace stays in. Fuel, tyres & screen)
Andy heads for the pitlane. He'll be taking
on a full set of tyres at this stop, having
insisted he flat spotted the front right during
the middle of his stint. He was three minutes
behind Lahaye at the last count.
the overall battle for the lead, Alexander Wurz
holds first position for the #1 Team Peugeot
908, with Nick Minassian second in the #2, and
the Oreca #4 third. The #9 Audi R15 now heads
the chasing pack, with the #8 fifth, and the
first of the petrol-engined cars, the #007 Aston
his incident with the #79 BMW, Tom Kristensen
handed over to Dindo Capello, and Dindo is holding
hours completed, and all well at the head of
LMP2. Strakka continues to lead, although the
margin has narrowed to 67 seconds between Leventis
and Werner. Warren Hughes retains third comfortable
over the #35 Oak racing car (gap is 82 seconds)
and Andy Wallace is fifth, almost a lap behind.
A fiery end to the Le Mans challenge for the
all-girls squad in the #61 Matech Ford GT. The
engine erupts as Gachnang heads down towards
the Mulsanne Corner. Andy confirms that last
time he passed the car, he'd had a generous
screen dusting of oil droplets across the screen,
so he's not surprised. She gets out of the car
as flames start to blossom from the rear arches
and beneath the engine cover. She emerges safely
from a cloud of black smoke and extinguisher
powder, as the marshals run to help.
The #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo (Richard Hein,
sixth in class and 20th overall) is reported
as going slow. Andy reports that the visibility
through the screen is now very poor, as a result
of the smeared oil. He considers it too dangerous
to proceed and will pit this lap for a clean.
The #79 BMW is in trouble again, and has coasted
to a halt beside the track on the run down to
Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Andy Meyrick has gone
straight on into the tyre wall at Arnage. It's
not a race-ending impact, and he reverses out
and heads back towards the pitlane. The car
appears skittish but driveable.
Wallace stays in. Fuel, & screen tear-off
Andy into the pitlane. He requests guidance
as he cannot see where to stop. He stops and
the team refuels the car before removing the
uppermost screen tear-off sheet. "Big,
big change!" he says, delighted that he
can now see where he's going.
returned slowly to the pits, the #24 rejoins
Leventis pits the Strakka Racing HPD from the
lead. His narrower advantage means Marco Werner
eases forwards and assumes the mantle, at least
for the moment.
Leventis trails Werner by just 35 seconds, so
ill certainly resume the lead when the German
makes his pitstop. Amaral is now aboard the
#40 ASM Ginetta in third and noticeably slower
The Highcroft HPD enters the pitlane. Moments
later Leventis crosses the line to retake the
lead. Now that he can see where he's going,
Andy's laptimes have improved significantly,
and he's regularly doing forty-fives and sixes
- closing on Lahaye and pulling clear of Greaves,
who's just handed over the #41 Bruichladdich
Ginetta Zytek in sixth.
group has had a race-long battle with the Drayson
LMP1 Lola. Much faster when it's working, the
#11 Lola has spent a total of half an hour in
the pits, effectively negating any performance
advantage. It comes out again, recovers some
lost ground and a few places, and then dips
back into the pitlane again to lose everything
After an afternoon of blazing sunshine overhead,
the light is beginning to fade as the sun dips
down towards the horizon. It highlights a gripping
duel for the lead in GT2, where just the length
of a towrope separates the #82 Ferrari from
Collard in the #64 Corvette.
An unexpected extra pitstop for Highcroft, with
Werner having only visited the pitlane a few
minutes ago. The team replaces the front-right
tyre, and the lime-green and black car returns
to the fray. The Drayson Lola is back in the
garage again . . .
The GT2 battle is coming to a head, and Kaffer
is feeling the pressure. Tyre-smoke and lockups
betray just how hard he's having to race in
order to keep Collard at bay.
The #92 Aston Martin GT2 , Bryce Miller aboard,
has gone off in the Porsche Curves, and a safety
car has been deployed. Hopefully he hasn't had
a serious accident, and they've introduced the
safety car as a precaution, but there are emergency
vehicles in attendance. The marshals use this
as an opportunity to clean the rack, sweeping
debris and dusting oily patches.
came through a little while ago that the Racing
Box Lola #29 is an official retirement. The
car initially had a fractured fuel pipe and
problematic pump, but then reputedly suffered
#79 BMW has been suffering with engine issues.
main problem has centred on a vibration that
made the car almost impossible to drive, and
raced to a shock-absorber. Pirro reports that
since the last pitstop the car has been delightful
to drive. The car also had a fumes-in-the-cockpit
issue, also resolved.
has pitted the #35 under the safety car.
Two incidents, involving the #14 Kolles Audi
and Nick Leventis in the #42 Strakka Racing
HPD. The Kolles incident appears to be near
Indianapolis. Strakka is off at Dunlop. They
Nick rejoins and continues on around the track.
The Kolles car is into the pitlane, and looks
badly damaged. The Strakka HPD, on the other
hand, looked fine.
The race is back on again, and whether as a
result of his off, or the safety car bunching
things up, but Leventis only leading by 32 seconds
now. The margin to Amaral in third is several
laps - unclear how many just yet. Roughly 45
seconds between Amaral and Lahaye, but then
a lap to Wallace.
Nick Leventis pits the Strakka HPD from the
lead, and hands over to Jonny Kane. The Highcroft
car sweeps through to take the class lead.
GT2 battle is back on again, but the roles reversed.
Ollie Gavin is in the #64 Corvette now, and
is being chased by Jaime Melo in the Risi Ferrari.
Game on . . .
timing screens confirm the retirement of the
Pegasus Norma. The pastel blue debutante is
ordered as the first LMP2 retirement, although
the #29 appeared on the list first.
Wallace out, Erdos in. Fuel, tyres & screen
Andy is commenting on poor visibility from the
screen again, and the team carries out a thorough
clean of the offending perspex. "Nice and
steady" operation, and the car is swiftly
back out again with Tommy Erdos back on board.
Andy reports that track conditions are generally
fine, but there are some corners where the sun
is causing problems with glare.
Jaime Melo takes the GT2 class lead with a stunning
inside sweep through the corner at Indianapolis.
One suspects that Oliver Gavin would not have
been expecting that!
Marco Werner sets a new fastest lap for the
Highcroft HPD of 3:37.189, but in response to
an even quicker lap from Jonny Kane. There's
50 seconds between them, so the gap will be
interesting to watch.
first flyer is a forty-three, but he's upping
the pace lap-by-lap, and already ten seconds
quicker than Amaral in the #40 Quifel ASM car
ahead of him. Big gap to make up though.
Another improvement from Werner, posting 3:36.199.
Having played gently gently catchee monkey for
six hours, perhaps Highcroft has decided to
try outright pace instead. The gap has increased
to 53 seconds.
Werner into the pits. Evidently low fuel had
allowed him to push those times. Is the gap
sufficient for him to hold the lead?
As the timing screen catches up with the pitstops,
Jonny Kane has regained the LMP2 class lead,
and heads David Brabham (who's resumed duties
for Highcroft) by 46 seconds.
The fisticuffs in GT2 have been resumed. Having
taken the lead from Ollie Gavin only a little
while ago, and seemed able to pull away, the
gloves are off again, and the Corvette ace has
found a sweet spot in the car's weight to performance
ratio. He's closed right down on the little
red Ferrari once again.
a lap later, as they dice for the first chicane,
Gavin dives up the inside and takes the lead.
Then, in perfect role reversal, Melo returns
the compliment into the second chicane, and
they head down towards Mulsanne Corner with
the #82 Ferrari narrowly holding the GT2 class
Lahaye pits the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo from
third in LMP2. Jonny Kane proves his point by
setting a new fastest lap for the #42 Strakka
HPD, posting 3:35.292 to better Werner's offering
by nearly two seconds.
hours completed, and we head off into the eighth
with a series of exciting conflicts flaring
throughout the field. Jonny Kane is pushing
hard to re-establish the LMP2 lead over Brabham,
and his last lap was a 3:34.832, five seconds
quicker than Brabham's. In GT2, the hostilities
have been suspended as Gavin pits for fuel.
Melo will probably follow him into the pitlane
any tour soon.
is the entertainment value in these secondary
classes that any dispute over the outright lead
has lost its appeal for the moment. Alexander
Wurz (#1 Peugeot) has an 80 second lead over
Nick Minassian (#2) with Oliver Panis third
in the Oreca Peugeot and Treluyer fourth for
Audi, in the #8. Dindo Capello is in the #7,
but after the incident with the BMW, several
hours ago, has much ground to recover before
it will be back in contention again.
The Strakka Racing HPD is back into the pits,
but only briefly. It seems unlikely this is
scheduled but evidently not serious, as the
car swiftly rejoins the race. What effect this
has had on the lead will be evident shortly.
behind these two, Matthieu Lahaye has taken
third place from Miguel Amaral in the Quifel
ASM Ginetta Zytek, even through the #40 car
still has a pitstop to make. The gap between
them has grown quickly to about 8 seconds, with
Lahaye consistently two or three seconds quicker
more official retirements; #61 Matech Ford GT
(the 'girls'), #80 Flying Lizard Porsche and
#92 JMW Aston Martin.
GT2, Melo has now completed the pitstop that
puts him back on par with Gavin. The question
is, who did the faster pitstop? The next pass
has slipped to 21 seconds adrift of Lahaye,
and Erdos was closing up behind, but it's time
for another Erdos pitstop.
Erdos remains in. Fuel & screen clean)
Erdos pits on schedule, displaying just under
a lap to Amaral, who has also just completed
his car's 8th pitstop. The RML Lola shows nine,
thanks to the extra pitstop early in the race.
The leading Peugeot #1 is into the pitlane .
. .and into the garage! Drama abounds . . .
The erstwhile leader is still in the garage,
and the #2 Peugeot (Montagny currently in charge)
breezes by down the pit straight. Maybe there
is going to be a race after all.
Drayson Lola is back in the pitlane again, with
the engine cover off. It has now dropped down
behind the leading LMP2 group, and lies 21st
LMP2, Kane has pulled out a narrow advantage
over Brabham, and leads by 14 seconds. Lahaye
is third, Amaral fourth, and Erdos fifth, but
he's taken a full minute out of the Quifel ASM
Ginetta Zytek already.
Highcroft back into the pitlane again. This
seems very soon after the last pitstop, so unlikely
to be routine. Even so, it's only a brief visit,
and Brabham is soon back out and active.
#1 Peugeot remains stationary in the garage,
where a faulty alternator is the suspected cause.
It has slipped to 5th now, and may be overtaken
by Stefan Mucke next in the leading petrol Aston,
The #1 Peugeot rejoins, and two minutes later,
so does the #11 Drayson Lola, picking up in
30th overall. The Peugeot slips in at 7th, behind
McNish in the #7, but just ahead of Darren Turner
in the #009.
Lahaye pits the third-placed #35 Pescarolo.
It's an on-schedule stop and may allow Amaral
through, but the Portuguese driver still has
his ninth pitstop to make. Moreau takes over,
so the Oak car's pace is likely to improve.
Now it's Amaral's turn. He enters the pitlane
with a margin over Tommy of just 100 seconds
or so, and hands over to Olivier Pla. Out at
the head of the class, Kane leads Brabham by
over two minutes, so can almost afford to make
a pitstop without loss of position.
Tommy comes through to begin his 116th lap,
and finds himself in fourth place, having overtaken
Olivier while the ASM car was in for the pitstop.
The gap is just under 30 seconds.
Strakka in for a pitstop from the lead.
complains about driving over something in the
middle of the Mulsanne. He's not sure what it
was. Later reports suggest it was a rabbit,
and there are rumours in the media centre that
Phil Barker is hopping mad.
Into the final hour of Saturday and the leading
group in LMP2 looks much the same now as it
did four hours ago, with Strakka leading Highcroft
from Oak and RML. Jonny Kane has established
a lead of 76 seconds over David Brabham.
Thomas Erdos into the pit road in anticipation
of his next pitstop. He pulls up outside the
garage and kills the engine sitting patiently
while the refuellers got to work behind him.
The team carries out a number of other quick
checks, and then clears Tommy for departure.
Marc Gene sets a new race best for the #1 Peugeot,
and 3:20.973 is very impressive. Treluyer's
response in the #8 Audi is even more remarkable,
to the point of being incredible. 3 minutes
01.125 is twenty five seconds too fast to be
so, conditions out there on track are obviously
very quick at the present, and these two are
not alone in setting new improvements for their
cars. Olivier Pla has managed a few fastest
sectors, although still not enough to shake
off Tommy Erdos, who came back out after the
last pitstop over a minute in arrears, but has
already narrowed it to 57 seconds.
Highcroft back into the pits for a speedy pitstop;
refuel and out again. The gap to Strakka had
been 82 seconds, but will now have extended
further. Two minutes later the #24 Oak car pits
from 6th in class, accompanied by the #41. The
Oak stop is significantly longer, and the Bruichladdich
car moves through to take its place.
that fantastic battle with the #64 Corvette
the Risi Ferrari has hit problems, and with
gear selection problems has been in the pits
long enough to have dropped way down the order,
and opened the door for a Corvette one-two.
Jan Magnussen and the #63 Corvette are now running
second in GT2, ninety seconds behind Beretta,
now pushing along in the #64.
Slightly ahead of expectations, the #40 ASM
Ginetta Zytek has come in for a pitstop. It
seems routine, and Olivier Pla is back out and
at 'em after the briefest of pauses, but it's
cost him fourth place to Tommy Erdos. The Brazilian
is through and 1:53.264 behind Moreau in the
encouraged, Tommy sets a new fastest first
sector for the #25 Lola, and rounds it off
with a 3:41.729. It's not quite the quickest
in the class - that honour falls again to
Jonny Kane, but it's nearly ten seconds
faster than Moreau ahead of him.
Jonny Kane hands over to Danny Watts but Strakka
manages to hold on to the lead, such is their
advantage at the head of LMP2 at the moment.
It narrows to 30 seconds, but Strakka is ahead
in the pitstop stakes too
A new fastest lap for Tommy Erdos, posting 3:41.226.
Erdos out, Mike Newton in. Fuel, tyes &
screen clean )
Tommy comes in to make the final pitstop of
Saturday, and hands over to Mike Newton for
the first run of the new day. As this is all
happening in the pitlane, Marc Gene has set
a new fastest lap for the recovering #1 Peugeot
of 3:19.644. That's quicker than pole.
report continues on the dedicated Sunday page
Le Mans 2010 gallery can be accessed here