at Le Mans 2010
coverage of the previous nine hours, click
arrives with Mike Newton starting a new stint
in the #25 RML AD Group Lola HPD. Just seconds
before the calendar clicked over, Tommy Erdos
handed over driving duties to the CEO of AD
Group, and Mike and his Lola burbled away
down the pitlane to rejoin the race in 18th
place overall, fifth in LMP2.
The #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo has a major disagreement
with the barriers at the Ford Chicane, and
loses the entire front-left corner of the
car the process. Yvon is fortunate not to
have passed the pitlane entry, and is able
to grass-track across the infield and join
the pit road. The wheelarch is a terrible
mess, with frayed cables, trunking, bits of
carbon fibre and shreds of front wing. It
may be a lengthy rebuild, but the incident
proves that even the slow (relatively) and
steady can hit problems.
Probably to pick up the bits left by the Oak
incident, the safety car is deployed. Olivier
Pla in the ASM #40 has used this as an opportunity
to pit from fourth in class. Several others
have followed suit, and it's eerily quiet
as the safety cars slow everything down, and
process through the countryside.
The race resumes, but within seconds the #13
Rebellion Lola is off, also in the Ford Chicane,
and crumps heavily into the tyre wall, demolishing
the right rear and seriously misaligning the
rest. The damage is extensive and far-ranging,
including suspension and gearbox. The car
is towed clear by one of the incident vehicles,
but looks unlikely to move again under its
remains well served by active runners, although
has lost a few in the preceding nine hours
of racing. The order stands as:
Strakka Racing HPD (12th)
Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd (15th)
Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek (16th)
Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek (19th)
Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd (30th)
WR Salini Zytek (34th)
Race Performance Radical (42nd)
Racing Box Lola Judd (Retired)
Pegasus Norma: 6:39.578 (Retired)
Danny Watts and Marino Franchitti are trading
laptimes, but the #42 Strakka Racing HPD leads
by over two minutes.
New fastest lap for Olivier Pla in the #40 Quifel
ASM Ginetta Zytek. A time of 3:41.052 is a close
match for Tommy's best in the Lola, and draws
him closer to Moreau in the #35, but only fractionally,
as the Frenchman replies with a new best for the
#35 of 3:42.828.
The timing screen advises us that the #26 Highcroft
HPD is running slow, but no indication of where
Newton remains in. Fuel & screen clean only)
Mike Newton is in for his next scheduled pitstop.
Straightforward refuel and screen clean and away
he goes. The #39 KSM Lola is also in for similar
treatment, although in the case of the open-topped
Lola, the stop is much, much longer.
Marino Franchitti gets the Highcroft car back
to the pits, where the rumour is it's either
a puncture or a fuel issue. Whichever, the
car is swiftly fettled and sent on its way.
Nevertheless, it was a ten-minute lap.
a quick round-up of happenings in other classes:
Overall, the race lead is held by the #2 Peugeot,
currently being driven by Stephane Sarrazin.
He has a lead of around 3 minutes over the
privateer Oreca Peugeot, driven by Lapierre.
Third is the #9 Audi R15 (Timo Bernhard),
with the #8 fourth and the #7 fifth. Sixth
place is occupied by the formerly troubled
(and even more formerly leading) #1 works
petrol class is fronted by the #007 Aston
Martin Lola, Adrian Fernandez on driver duty,
and fending off the attentions of Sam Hancock
in the #008.
GT2, the memories of that glorious duel between
Corvette and Ferrari are a fading memory.
The Risi Ferrari is not officially a retirement,
but might as well be. It remains static in
the garage. Instead we have a Corvette one-two
with the #77 Felbermayr Porsche in third.
All three, as well as GT2s in the next four
places, are ahead of the GT1 leading Saleen
S7-R. Despite long teeth, the RML-inspired
leviathan thunders on, it's V8 resonating
magnificently through the night. The first
of Luc Alphand's two Corvettes lies second,
but two laps behind, with the sole surviving
Ford GT third, ten laps down the line.
Several more official retirements have been
posted, including the aforementioned Risi
Ferrari. Others fallen by the wayside include
the #13 Rebellion Lola (accident) and the
#92 Aston Martin GT2 (accident), making a
total of thirteen no longer actively running.
Tim Greaves pits the #41 Bruichladdich Ginetta
Zytek from 6th. Still in the hunt, but several
laps down on the leading group. After his
puncture, Marino dropped back some distance
from Danny Watts in the Strakka HPD, which
is now two laps clear. Moreau in third is
in a dice with the #14 Kolles Audi, and showing
well, half a second behind. Hard to believe
sometimes that the same R10 that Kolles campaigns
was winning here a few years ago. Christian
Bouchut is circulating more quickly in the
#14, but not vastly.
The LMP2 class leader arrives in the pitlane
for another scheduled pitstop. Danny Watts
sits impassive in the cockpit as the team
scurries around him, refuelling the HPD, ad
then waving him off for another stint. The
stop will hardly have dented their two-lap
Newton out, Andy Wallace in. Fuel, tyres &
Mike Newton into the pitlane, on time and
on schedule. Hand over to Andy Wallace.
Tim Greaves spins his way out of the Ford
Chicane and into the pitlane. He was almost
due anyway, but a kiss on the tyrewall prompts
this earlier visit. The contact was slight
and it only takes the team a brief check to
confirm that all's well, and Tim is back on
Another pitstop for Highcroft. It's their
thirteenth; one more than Strakka, but due
Pitstop for the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo,
which had been running strongly in 15th overall,
third in LMP2. Fuel and tyres going on, and
driver change to Jan Charouz.
due another pitstop fairly shortly, the #42
Strakka Racing HPD is currently running three
and a half laps clear of Franchitti in the
chasing Highcroft #26. After the pitstop,
Charouz has lost some ground and is now on
the same lap as Warren Hughes. The former
works MG, RML and Embassy driver is back in
the #40 Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek and pushing
same can be said of Andy Wallace, who's unable
to match the pace of the HPDs, but is nevertheless
quicker than most of the rest in LMP2.
The overall leader, Sarrazin in the #2 Peugeot,
pits and rejoins. Duval closes, but the gap
was over a lap, so no order change at the
Still running, if almost twenty laps down
on the class-leading Strakka HPD, is the KSM
Lola Judd. De Pourtales has just pitted from
30th overall and handed over to Jonathan Kennard,
but the Oak Racing #24 was merely 39 seconds
behind when the German car headed for the
pitlane, so positions are likely to change.
Andy Wallace's laptimes are remarkably consistent.
Time and again he's posting times within a
second or so of one another, typically 3:50
or forty-nine. He's seven laps clear of Manu
Collard, leading GT2 and lying 18th overall.
The gap forwards to Warren Hughes is less
than a lap and, for now anyway, the former
Le Mans winner is lapping a second or so quicker.
#009 Aston Martin Lola is tagged as running
"slowly", but no reason given.
Pitstop for Tom Kristensen in the #7 Audi.
The popular Dane and his co-drivers have been
battling for several hours now to make up
for the ground lost over incident with the
Pitstop and driver change for Strakka, with
Nick Leventis taking over from Danny Watts.
The surviving BMW, #78, is also into the pitlane,
but this is more serious, and the car is hauled
backwards into the garage. The team is clambering
all over the car, and burrowing under the
bonnet. Not clear what the issue is.
Routine stop for the #8 Audi from third overall.
Lotterer is the cockpit.
Wallace remains in. Fuel & screen/headlight
Andy Wallace into the pitlane for a scheduled
pitstop. Fuel and tidy round only, and he's
back off up the pitlane in a matter of moments.
Less brief is Chalandon's visit in the #41
Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek, backed into the
garage from 6th in class, 20th overall. The
team is working on the front of the car, and
fitting a new underfloor.
#6 Oreca Matmut AIM has been in the garage
for several laps now,and is in danger of losing
several places. First to benefit will be Nick
Leventis in the #42 Strakka HPD.
Highcroft HPD into the pitlane for a routine
pitstop and driver change; Marco Werner taking
over in the cockpit. As well as the #6 Oreca
car, the #4 is also in the garage now, pulling
out from second overall. It's bodywork-off
in both cases. Another car languishing for
longer than expected is the #14 Kolles Audi.
Pitstops for Charouz and Hughes (#35 and #40
respectively) are routine by comparison.
has been a bad quarter-hour for Oreca, with
both cars pitbound and neither showing any
obvious sign of leaving soon. Leventis has
duly overtaken the #6, and the #42 Strakka
Racing LMP2 HPD moves into eleventh place
hard to believe, but after twelve hours we're
run the equivalent of two Le Mans Series races,
in time anyway, and have two more still to
go. With that fact at the back of our minds,
the thought that only thirteen cars have been
officially retired is testament to the improved
reliability of contemporary racecars. It's
not so long ago that only the walking wounded
finished in LMP2, for example.By contrast,
in 2010 just two have fallen short of half
distance, and of the ten still running, only
one might be considered as running below par.
leading five have successfully taken their
race to the tail-end of LMP1, and the #42
Strakka Racing HPD is knocking on the door
of the top-ten. Even those further down the
order are providing entertainment, with three
cars disputing 30th overall, and until recently
on the same lap.
there is a sick man of sportscar racing these
days, it's GT1. The ending of this once paramount
category was confirmed a couple of days ago
by the ACO, and the Le Mans swan song is hardly
going well. Emasculated by the current regulations,
the class-leading Saleen has been left in
the shade by six of the top GT2 cars. The
#50 car boasts a three lap lead over the first
of the remaining GT1 Corvettes, but is three
down on the works Corvettes in GT2, running
first and second in the class, 19th and 20th
overall. Here lies the future, evidently.
With hindsight, it might have been more appropriate
to allow GT1 to go out on a high, either by
restoring some parity, or by killing them
off twelve months ago when the writing was
already on the wall.
There's a car off in the Porsche Curves. The
screen suggests Kolles R10 #14.
#37 WR Salini has been in the pits now for
nearly twenty minutes. Right now, however,
the #12 is the car with problems, and the
surviving Rebellion Lola has eased to a halt
in what looks like the length between the
end of the Porsche Curves and the pitlane
entry. Neel Jani is the car at the moment,
and is being encouraged and, within the limits,
helped by a group of marshals. They're pushing
the Lola behind the wall, but he will be able
to work on the car there and try to make the
100 metre trek back to the sanctuary of the
for Nick Leventis in the Strakka HPD - fuel
and visor clean. The car still a comfortable
two-lap lead over Highcroft.
Wallace remains in. Fuel & screen/headlight
Another exemplary pitstop from that well-drilled
crew at RML, having Wallace back out again
in seconds. "Thanks guys" says Andy
as he accelerates up the hill towards the
Pitstop for the #40 Quifel ASM car. Less than
two laps now separate third, fourth and fifth
in LMP2; Oak Racing's #35, the ASM #40 and
Andy Wallace in the RML AD Group Lola. If
all goes smoothly for the two HPDs in first
and second, the challenge for third could
become the only meaningful battle left in
Orecas are back in the hunt. The #4 resumed
in sixth place some while ago, and the #6
is now running 13th. The #12 Rebellion Lola
is a confirmed retirement.
race has entered one of those stable phases
where, largely speaking, there's not a great
deal going on, save that about 38 cars are
still racing like this was a sprint, and pushing
the boundaries of man and machine. Two more
are confirmed retirements, although both we
knew about. The #12 Lola went just before
the hour, and to that list as been added the
#14 Kolles Audi R10.
officially listed but there see little doubt
that the JLOC Lamborghini has given up. It
hasn't actually moved for several hors, and
is sitting in the garage having completed
115 laps. The crew is supposedly rebuilding
the gearbox in the back of the truck, but
it's not clear of, or when it will rejoin,
and even if it does, a classified finish looks
unlikely. A question mark also hangs over
the status of the 11 Drayson Lola, which is
in the garage having a new fuel cell fitted.
If all goes to plan, it should resume shortly.
Wallace out, Erdos in. Fuel, tyres & screen/headlight
Andy Wallace completes another triple stint,
having been in the car since ten-to-two. Tommy
is sent on his way, grumbling about the state
of the windscreen.
Nick Leventis into the pitlane too, for a
routine pitstop. Although the least experienced
member of the young team, he's driven well,
and even if he's lost a little time to Highcroft's
Marco Werner (a triple winner here at Le Mans
with Audi) he certainly hasn't disgraced himself.
Jonny Kane takes his place, the the Strakka
HPD is back in the action within a couple
We're advised that Olivier Pla is running
slowly in the #40 Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek.
No reason given as yet, but he heads the RML
Lola by a single lap. With Erdos in the car
now, the pace will rise, and given another
generous double or even triple stint, the
#25 Lola could regain some lost ground.
Quifel ASM into the pit garage and up on high
stands as the engineers scurry around her
like worker bees round a queen.
Jan Charouz also visits the pitlane, although
this is a more conventional pitstop. Driver
change to Lahaye and back out again.
The race control advise us that car 18 is
running slowly. We don't have a car 18, so
not sure who's in trouble.
Kristensen pits the #7 Audi having completed
what appears to be a quintuple stint
at the wheel He's replaced by Dindo Capello,
and loses a place to the #1 Peugeot in
the process. The #2 Peugeot leads from
the #8 Audi, with the #9 R15 in third.
The two Audis are separated by just 18
seconds, and are both within striking
distance of the lead lap. Even a small
error from Minassian, however unlikely,
could hand this race to Audi now.
The sound of the Lola's HPD V8 wails through
the grandstand corridor as Tommy Erdos blasts
through to take fourth in LMP2. The ASM Ginetta
Zytek is still in the box. The challenge to
catch Lahaye is much harder though, as there's
more than a lap to make up.
Kane back in the Strakka HPD, the team's lead
is extending once again, and stands at a full
and healthy lap. The Ulsterman's last was
a 3:38.708, a full ten seconds faster than
Werner in second place.
#40 ASM is still up on the high stands and
the team is working on the engine, which has
suffered a driveshaft failure. Margins are
so readily lost, and in this instance, some
five laps have slipped away while the team
labours to fix the transmission.
#60 Ford GT has been confirmed as a retirement.
Werner pits the #26 Highcroft HPD from second
in LMP2. After refuelling, the tea removes
the ear bodywork.It looks to be a struggle,
and reluctant to move. They've even tried
kicking in their attempts to loosen the main
panel! It does the trick, and with a replacement
panel fitted, Werner sets off.
Highcroft in the pitlane, Andy Meyrick powers
the #6 Oreca Matmut AIM through into 12th.
Kane leads LMP2 by two laps from Werner, with
Lahaye third and Erdos fourth. Pla and the
#40 ASM car are still in the garage, but have
four laps in hand over the #41 sister car
of Team Bruichladdich. The second Oak Pescarolo
has dropped to 25th, narrowly ahead of the
KSM Lola, but both are well clear of the #28
Radical, 34th overall. Technically the WR
is still in the race, but 36th position and
thirty laps down on the class leaders suggests
things are not going well.
The Lamborghini has left the building! After
hours in the garage, the JLOC Lambo is back
in the race.
Erdos stays in. Fuel & screen/headlight
Thomas Erdos into the pitlane for fuel. A
clean screen and some tweaking from the engineers,
and he's back on his way. At least he can
see where he's going again, after having to
cope with another lathering of oil across
the screen for the previous half hour.
Strakka HPD in for a pitstop - Jonny Kane
stays aboard for a routine stop, home and
After a lengthy pitstop to have that new fuel
cell fitted, the Drayson Lola returns to the
fray . . . only to head straight back again
when a fuel leak is identified.
Minassian is hustling along in the lead Peugeot
and sets a new fastest lap for the race of
3:20.943. The light is becoming noticeably
brighter, and blindingly head-on as the cars
rise up through Dunlop.
off for Hideki Noda in the KSM Lola at Indianapolis.
He ends up in he gravel, but is helped back
to the track and races on.
Olivier Pla is pushing, pushing in the #40
ASM Ginetta Zytek and posts a new fastest
lap for the #40 car. It's a low 3:40.
Erdos stays in. Fuel & screen/headlight
Tommy responds by setting a new fastest lap
for the RML Lola of 3:39, and then pits. It
was his last flying lap of the stint, and
completed on a light load.
After fifteen hours, things do not look good
for the Krohn Racing Ferrari #83, as a thick
rooster tail of white smoke erupts from the
back of the car. It's still moving, but for
how much longer?
Back into the pitlane for the LMP2 class leading
Strakka Racing HPD. Straightforward stop for
Jonny Kane, who leaves as rapidly as he arrived.
Problems for the #40 ASM Quifel Ginetta Zytek,
which has pulled off the track at post 100
with Olivier Pla on board but, for a moment,
going nowhere. He soon rejoins. Meanwhile,
the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo is in the garage
and losing ground to Tommy Erdos, who's just
set a new fastest second sector for the #25
#35 Oak Racing Pescarolo has left the garage,
but it's not clear yet whether Moreau managed
to do so in time to prevent Tommy Erdos taking
Having only just rejoined The #11 Drayson
Lola goes for a rapid pirouette and ends up
in the gravel. Jonny Cocker was on fresh and
perhaps cool tyres.
The timing screen catches up with the action
on the track and confirms that Tommy Erdos
and the RML AD Group Lola has moved up a notch,
and is now running third in LMP2.
Jonny Cocker gets going again and leaves the
gravel bed at Indianapolis and begins a gravel-strewing
journey back towards the start-finish line.
He's not going particularly fast, and there's
a wisp of smoke from the back of the car as
he travels along.
A new fastest lap of the race for David Brabham
in the Highcroft #26, posting 3:35.844. Tommy
responds with a similar improvement for the
#25 Lola, although 3:37.921 does rather emphasise
the speed advantage that the Wirth Research-developed
HPD chassis currently enjoys.
That impressive flyer from Brabham was his
last of the stint, and he was into the pitlane
next time around for a refuel.
Having moved ahead of the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo,
Tommy has started to ease out a time advantage
too, and this has stretched to 35 seconds.
On current pace, that gap will increase at
the rate of around two seconds each lap.
Erdos out, Mike Newton in. Tyres, fuel &
Tommy clambers out of the car after his second
triple stint, hot, wet through with perspiration,
and shattered. He's driven a remarkable dawn
stint for the team, and put the car back up
into the third position he only lost through
the dashboard failure right at the start of
the race. It's taken fifteen hours, but he's
made good the deficit.
stints take it out of you, but I'll survive,"
shrugged Tommy after climbing the steps into
the back of the team truck. "The HPD
cars have their own pace, and we simply can't
stay with that. I could try, but the car would
probably break up, so we have to be sensible
and drive within our limits. Once in a while
I get a clear lap, and I can set a quick time,
just to prove a point, if you like, but we
can't maintain that sort of pace for ever.
All we can do is hope we have a clean run
to the end, and if any of the others hit trouble,
then we can capitalise, but there's no way
we can catch them on pace alone."
car has been reliable, and consistent. We've
had a few issues with vibration, largely from
pick-up, and visibility too, thanks to oil
from other cars, but in every other respect
we couldn't have asked for more from the car.
The crew should be proud of where we are and
what we've achieved, because it's all down
Great drama out on track when flames start
to erupt from the right-hand side of the lead
Peugeot as it heads out of Tetre Rouge and
onto the Mulsanne. Montagny pulls over onto
the grass, where nearby marshals extinguish
the flames. He was on his out-lap from the
pits, and hardly back up to speed when the
The timing screens confirm that Mike has lost
third during the pitstop. The #35 Pescarolo
is back there again, and Moreau is setting
very quick times in the Judd-powered machine.
we begin the seventeenth hour with a strange
look to the timing screen. For the first time
this year, there's an Audi one-two, with the
#9 leading from the #, the surviving works
Peugeot #1 in third, but with evidence of
earlier damage still visible to the side of
the car. The third R15 lies fourth, with Capello
at the wheel of the #7
Strakka Racing HPD has made a pitstop and
driver change, with Danny Watts taking over
from Jonny Kane.
More drama, although perhaps not as intense,
as the KSM Lola goes straight on and heavily
into the tyre wall at Arnage corner. The marshals
haul the Lola clear using manpower and a rope,
but it's not sure yet whether the car can
A succession of two new fastest laps for David
Brabham in the #26, culminating in a 3:34.382.
Brabs then pits for fuel at 07:26 and then
back into the race.
sign of any return of the #39 KSM Lola, so
potentially a sad end to a gallant run for
the open-topped car.
A new fastest lap from Danny Watts, whose
3:33.742 is another significant improvement
for the team's HPD. With the demise of the
leading Peugeot, Strakka is now into the top-ten
Newton is still holding fourth, but has seen
the gap ahead of him to Moreau steadily lengthen
to almost 100 seconds. He has a safety net
of eight laps over the #40 ASM Ginetta Zytek.
The KSM Lola is back from Arnage and trundling
down the pitlane sans bonnet.
The #40 ASM is off at Arnage, following in
the footsteps of the #39. The impact does
not look as heavy.
Amaral gets going again, with relatively light
damage, but then overcooks it again through
the Porsche Curves. This time the impact is
a side-swipe on solid concrete and hard, ripping
the side off the Ginetta Zytek and seriously
damaging the front left-hand wheel. He limps
the car back to the pits, but what might have
been a straightforward nose-job is now a major
between Newton and Amaral is now 10 laps and
growing. Next in class is the #41 Bruichladdich
Ginetta Zytek, 17th overall, 13 laps in arrears.
A spectacularly graceful spin for the Prospeed
Porsche. Almost in slo-mo the car completes
a full 360 and ends up facing the right way,
and coolly continues as if nothing happened,
So lucky not to touch the armco.
to Mike Newton from Moreau in third is 2 minutes
#41 car has eased through ahead of the still
The #2 Peugeot is returned to the garage on
a low loader, where the team wheel it inside
and close the shutters.
The chasing #1 Peugeot unlaps itself (with
Anthony Davidson's help!) on the run down
to the second Mulsanne chicane, necessitating
a detour onto the hard shoulder to achieve
The #73 Luc Alphand Corvette slows to a halt
beneath the Rolex "bridge" on the
run between Mulsanne and Indianapolis. It
was running second in GT1.
Anthony Davidson may be on a charge in the
#1 Peugeot, but his pass on Collard in the
#64 Corvette GT2, the class leader, was inappropriate
and suicidally timed. Whether there was contact
or not, the 908 was so close that the GT2
leader was sent spinning into the barriers
near the middle of the Porsche Curves and
the back-end hit the steelwork heavily. The
crumple zone takes the impact, and the Corvette
ends up looking a lot shorter than it did
gets the car moving again, and speeds back
to the pits, tyre smoke betraying the extent
of the damage. The Peugeot also pits, next
time round. Moments after it leaves, the safety
car is deployed. No doubt the process will,
in some way, aid Peugeot in their attempt
to regain the lead.
suspension of racing is to allow the marshals
to tidy up the debris and check the barrier
and neighbouring catch fencing.
Mike out, Andy Wallace in. Tyres, fuel &
A whole succession of cars take to the pitlane,
including Moreau (#35) and Newton (#25), third
and fourth in LMP2. The #24 Oak car also pits
a little later, just as racing resumes.
As the race gets under way again, de Pourtales
loses it on cold tyres through the Dunlop
Esses and ends up in the gravel. May lose
track position and a position in class to
the #28 Radical in the process.
the #007 Aston Martin in the pits, Danny Watts
passes by on the straight to take 9th overall,
272 laps completed. Brabham is still second,
two laps down, for Highcroft, and the #35
Oak Racing Pescarolo holds third on 265 laps.
Andy Wallace is fourth, a lap down.
Pitstop for Danny Watts - fuel only.
Oliver Gavin brings the #64 Corvette back
into the race. The class lead is long gone,
but the car is fifth in GT2.
equivalent of a full Le Mans Series race still
to go. A daunting thought. Watts leads LMP2
for Strakka by two laps, but has just lost
tenth overall to Didier Andre in the #6 Oreca
Matmut AIM. Franchitti holds second for Highcroft
by five laps over Charouz in the #35 Pescarolo.
Andy Wallace is running fourth but more than
a lap down on the pink and charcoal Oak Racing
TV production crew follow Andy for a whole
lap in the #25 RML Lola.
New fastest lap for Charouz in the Oak Pescarolo;
3:42.606. Andy Wallace is doing forty-fours
Driver: Andy stays in. Fuel & clean)
Simultaneous pitstops for Charouz, rounding
off his stint, and Andy Wallace - both for
fuel. In the race they're a lap apart.
The GT1 leader is in the gravel at the start
of the pitlane after overcooking the first
element of the Ford Chicane. May need recovering.
leads overall with #9 R15 and Dumas, one minute
22.446 seconds ahead of the #8 R15, and third
is Anthony Davidson in the chasing Peugeot
#1. McNish is pushing even harder and setting
fast sector times for the #7 Audi R15.
Having got the #64 Corvette back into the
race, Ollie Gavin pulls off at the Mulsanne
Corner with smoke from one bank.
Pitstop for Strakka, with driver change and
new tyres. Danny Watts out and Nick Leventis
in. "It's very much cooler this morning,
and that makes the car feel different, but
the car is still very good and balanced. We
did have a vibration that was making it hard
to focus," said Danny. "Highcroft
are keeping us honed, and we just need to
keep pounding round and keep out of trouble.
It's slightly easier than it was as there's
a little less traffic as some drop out but
there's more pressure and you have to dish
out the lap times even more consistently."
Ferrari 954, second in GT2, goes straight
on at Indianapolis and down the escape road
with a stuck throttle - front wheels locked
solid and rears spinning like mad. Not a pleasant
sensation for Fisichella.
Highcroft into the pits. Franchitti in the
driving seat, but the stop doesn't seem to
be going to plan. He's stationery for quite
some while. Watch this space.
The 009 Aston with Juan Barazi aboard spins
into the first chicane. A very odd-looking
spin, but he gets back onto the road and starts
the journey back around the track.
The Highcroft HPD departs again after an extended
pit visit to address a water leak.
Official warning for the Highcroft HOD for
having no front lights, but monitor images
show shortage of lights. However, they do
show the car progressing slowly round the
circuit, accompanied by waved white flags.
He'll get back to the pits, but evidently
the water leak, or something associated with
it, may not have been fixed.
Franchitti into the pitlane, and back into
the garage. Glum faces all round.
Whatever the issue, Highcroft's HPD is heading
back out again. Charouz, meanwhile, is into
the pits for a routine driver change and pitstop
for the #35. Out around the circuit, the #08
Signature Plus Aston Martin is in the barriers
at the first Playstation Chicane along the
Mulsanne. Pierre Ragues is shown as current
occupant of the Lola's cockpit.
Franchitti back in again, having completed
just a single lap in the #26 Highcroft HPD.
Things are beginning to look more serious
for the American squad.
Andy stays in. Fuel & clean)
Pitstop for Andy Wallace for fuel. Brief and
Lahaye in the #35 Oak Pescarolo passes the
stationery Highcroft HPD for second place.
Next in line if the team can't make good the
problem is Andy Wallace in the RML Lola HPD.
The Highcroft car still hasn't moved from
the garage, and the team is helpless to do
anything as Andy Wallace sails by in the RML
Lola to take third in LMP2.
The #1 Peugeot makes something of a misjudgment
through the Ford Chicane and ends up looking
more like a rally car as it bounces, hops
and skips across the gravel, grass and kerbs
before electing to return to the pitlane.
Nick Leventis brings the Strakka HPD in for
a pitstop. The team refuel and send him on
his way again.
Nick Leventis moves through to 9th overall
in the Strakka HPD by passing the 008 Aston
Martin Lola, undergoing repairs for accident
damage, just as confirmation. Unless it rejoins
soon, both he #35 Oak pescarolo and Andy Wallace
in the RML Lola may pass as well.
Michelin Green X Challenge front runners are
revealed as cars #42 (Strakka), #26 (Highcroft)
and #24 (Oak Racing)
Pitstop for the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo from
10th, and coinciding with official confirmation
that the 008 Aston is a retirement, lifting
both the Oak and the RML cars up one place.
change: Andy out, Erdos in. Fuel, tyres &
Andy Wallace heads for the pitlane from 12th
overall, third in LMP2. The Highcroft HPD
is still in the garage, and the #41 has made
a pitstop from 14th. The Bruichladdich car
is still four laps behind the stationery #26.
Thomas Erdos comes out to begin what will
be his final stint.
Nick Leventis is moving slowly, and coming
into the pitlane. This is early, but Jonny
Kane gets in, swapping seat inserts as they
go. Fuel and tyres. The car has a six-lap
The #15 Kolles Audi is into the tyrewall at
Jonny Kane departs after a serious pitstop
to address body panel issues, secure the legality
panels and replace a slow puncture, which
had prompted the slow lap from Leventis.
The #8 Audi R15 goes straight on at Arnage
and makes heavy impact with the wall. Lotterer
is running second with a three minute advantage
over the #1 Peugeot.
Andrea Lotterer gets the #8 out ahead but
only just. He has perhaps ten seconds or less
Wurz catches Lotterer into Indianapolis, and
they're nose tail through and out of Arnage.
Lotterer pulls away and through the Porsche
Curves. Lotterer has a second over the line,
but that evaporates through Dunlop. Lotterer
holds on to Tetre Rouge and onto Mulsanne.
Wurz makes his move into the second chicane,
and makes it count.
ahead, Wurz begins to pull clear relatively
Although Jonny Kane looks to have eased back
a little, comfortable in his six-lap advantage,
Tommy Erdos is hustling along, and continuing
to set quick laps for the #25 Lola. The gap
ahead to the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo is a
full lap, give or take, but there are still
three hours to go, and Erdos is lapping as
much as ten seconds a lap faster than the
Erdos stays in. Fuel & screen clean)
The Highcroft HPD returns to the race in 17th
position overall just as Tommy Erdos makes
a pitstop for fuel. The Highcroft's problem
has been related to low water pressure in
the coolant system.
The #15 Kolles R10 has pulled off between
Mulsanne and Indianapolis.
Guillaume Moreau taking over aboard the #35
Oak Racing Pescarolo. Quick pitstop.
Pitstop for #41. Routine.
the race remains with Audi, a least for the
time being, with Rockenfeller leading with
the 9, and Lotterer second with the #8. Wurz
is 42 seconds behind Lotterer now, having
made a pitstop since the duel described earlier,
but he's evidently closing, and with other
pitstops yet to come, anything can yet happen.
Prospeed Porsche back into the pits with another
LMP2, Jonny Kane leads by five laps now from
Charouz in the #35. The delayed pitstop cost
the equivalent of a lap, but a worthwhile
investment if it helps to secure the finish.
Tommy Erdos is a single lap behind the #35,
but 17 laps clear of the #24.
Highcroft HPD did not stay out for long, and
is back into the garage once again. Marino
Franchitti is sitting and waiting, his eyes
shut. The crew meanwhile are clustered around
the rear of the car discussing prospects.
Do they try to fix it. Do they cobble it together
enough to finish? Do they call it a day and
come back next year. Time alone will tell
. . .
Pitstop for LMP2 leader, the #42 Strakka Racing
HPD. Fuel only and a drinks bottle for the
Pitstop for the #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo.
The car is holding 13th overall, 5th in class.
A new fastest lap for the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo;
3:41.915. Two and a half hours to go.
It has been a case of just pressing on and
not taking too many risks for most of the
cars still in this race, but maybe Peugeot
has forced that risk over the edge. Puffs
of white engine smoke suggest that the #1
Peugeot may have problems. It is now into
the pitlane, trailing oil across the pit apron
and into the garage.
Warnings of slippery surfaces throughout the
final section of the track, from Arnage to
the pitlane as a result of the oil lost by
the #1 Peugeot. The car is evidently a retirement.
two hours to go, and there are emotional scenes
in the pitlane where the final Team Peugeot
908 has retired with engine failure. The honour
of France now rests with the singleton privateer
908 being run by Oreca, and currently holding
fourth place. It's Audis one, two and three.
Danny Watts takes 7th from the 007 Aston Martin
Lola in the pitlane, although the LMP1 car
is up to speed again now and may recover the
place in due course.
A new fastest lap for the #4 Oreca Peugeot,
posting 3:19.074 and closing to within 18
seconds of the third-placed Audi R15 #7. He
has an hour to make up that difference and
stake a claim to the podium. His time is quicker
than pole in qualifying.
Roundup of LMP2 status sees the 42 Strakka
Racing HPD leading from 7th overall on 344
laps. Second is the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo
on 338 and Tommy Erdos on 337.
Erdos out, Wallace in. Tyres, fuel & screen
Tommy Erdos pits for fuel, tyres and driver.
Smooth and faultless, as usual.
The #85 Spyker has come into the pitlane but,
knowing that the #4 is due another pitstop,
has stopped well short and clear of the Oreca
garage. At 13:42 the Oreca leaves, and the
GT2 Spyker can move forwards to make its own
Further heartache for Peugeot and the French
nation as the #4 Oreca Peugeot expires at
Arnage. This time the left bank blows through
tension has gone, the expectation has evaporated,
and it's another Audi win at Le Mans. The
Peugeot was undeniably the fastest car in
the race, but for various reasons all four
have expired. It is hard not to feel enormous
sympathy for Peugeot.
Danny Watts makes what should be a final pitstop
for the #42 Strakka HPD. He stays in the car,
perhaps appropriately, since there's no doubting
he's worked hard for this.
more can this race throw at us in the final
sixty minutes? The edge may have been taken
off the battle in LMP1, but there remains
an hour during which more spirits can be broken
and dreams made. Timo Bernhard leads from
Benoit Treluyer second and Dindo Capello third,
all for Audi. In fourth place is the leading
petrol-engined car, the 009 Aston Martin Lola,
with the #6 Oreca Matmut AIM fifth and the
leading LMP2 runner, Danny Watts in the #42
Strakka Racing HPD sixth.
It continues. Now the leading petrol-engined
car, the 009 Aston, has blown on the exit
of Mulsanne. Sam Hancock pulls onto the grass,
surrounded by a cloud of smoke.
will not quite go to the wire, but it's as
close as one lap between the leading #77 Porsche
and the #89 Farnbacher Ferrari in second.
The #97 Porsche in third is nine laps behind.
In GT1, the chance of an historic win for
the RML-designed Saleen S7-R, with the surviving
#72 Corvette second for Luc Alphand.
A final stop for Nicolet in the #24 Oak Racing
Audis are starting to work out their positions
for a photo finish. The first two are through
Arnage just ten seconds ahead of the third.
The three Audis are now in line astern, the
lead car catching the other two on the Mulsanne.
Danny Watts into the pitlane for a final splash
and dash in the #42 Strakka HPD.
All three leading Audis come in to make their
final pitstops for fuel. They'll complete
the last half hour in formation, #9, #8 #7.
waits tentatively in the pitlane, watching
as Andy ticks off the laps, and Mike waits
to climb aboard the RML Lola for the final
Newton in. Tyres, fuel & screen
Newton into the RML Lola to bring the car
home. Trackside reporters suggest the #35
Oak is smelling very oily. Can it last?
The #007 Aston Martin has a puncture to the
right rear. Hopefully it can complete
the lap to get a replacement without
final twenty minutes take on their characteristic
end-of-term flavour, as the remaining runners
are joined by the walking wounded. The
Drayson car continues to go round, but
too far behind now to be classified. Having
sat in the garage for the previous couple
of hours, the Highcroft HPD re-emerges,
the coolant issue still a concern, but
sufficiently cobbled to ensure the car
can cross the line in tandem with the class-winning
Strakka HPD. It does so as a last-lap gasp.
witnessed his Peugeot expire, Hugues de
Chaunac, the boss of Oreca, can take some
small consolation in seeing his Matmut
AIM finishing a strong fourth overall,
and the first petrol-powered car to finish
in 2010. It was a close-run thing though,
with the Strakka Racing LMP2 looking
a near bet to deny the multi-coloured
#6 that honour.
Audi R15s complete a leisurely pitstop,
all three entering the pitlane together,
and carrying out a choreographed refuel
that might have graced a synchronised swimming
competition. They depart in convoy to complete
the final laps and prepare the perfect
one-two-three photo opportunity - the fourth
time Audi has managed to do this, starting
in 2000 and following on in 2002, 2004
and now 2010.
Dumas, Bernhard and Rockenfeller, the "young
guns" of the Audi squad, become first-time
Le Mans winners, taking the chequered flag
ahead of their team-mates and a cluster
of hangers-on. That makes it nine wins
in eleven years for Audi - or it could
be ten if you include the Bentley
win with Audi power. Danny Watts brings
home the Strakka Racing HPD in fifth place
overall to win LMP2; the team's third race
at La Sarthe in three different categories,
but the first win.
Newton narrowly misses out on the Audi
photo-op, and has to complete an additional
lap to finish third in LMP2. Although a
little grubby, the #25 RML HPD has barely
a scratch on it, and has survived 24 hours
of intense competition without mishap or
misdemeanour. It's an impressive run from
the Wellingborough squad, and makes it
three podiums on the trot for Mike, Tommy
Barker was visibly exhausted, but delighted
to have seen the chequered flag again at
Le Mans for the first time since 2006.
"It feels good
to get back on the podium again after a
gap of three years," he said. "We
know what it takes to win here at Le Mans,
and we also know how it feels to lose.
Le Mans is all about the detail - preparation
and planning – and
having a good team behind you. It’s
also about thinking on your feet, and adapting
quickly to the unexpected. This year, aside
from the issue with the dash right at the
start, the car ran faultlessly all the
way, and from that respect, it seemed relatively
easy, but we were a little fortunate. I'd
also say that we had a very good set-up,
and that made it easy for us to triple-stint
the tyres. The Dunlops were still immaculate
when they came off, and our guys even suggested
they could have been quadruple stinted
and still done an excellent job. This was
a great team effort by everyone concerned
- drivers, engineers, technicians and support
such a great group of guys and they deserved
“The whole team did really well. I
felt I had a very clean run – all of
us did - and that gives you a tremendous
sense of satisfaction,” said Thomas
Erdos. “There was no contact, no offs,
no mistakes, just nice and steady all the
way. The car itself was faultless throughout
and it did everything we asked of it. I’m
very proud to be a member of the team, and
grateful to the guys for the car they put
together for us. It was excellent.” He
also had praise for the other teams on the
podium. “It seems to be a just result
for all three of us, but the other two were
just that little bit better on the day,” he
suggested. “Strakka ran an excellent
race, and it would have been a travesty if
they hadn’t won, but I also feel this
was a triumph for RML as well, perhaps even
more so than for either of the two Le Mans
wins we’ve had. This time the competition
was strong, well up to the mark, and luck
didn’t come into it. Finishing third
under these circumstances is even more of
an achievement, and perhaps this has been the
team’s finest race.”
“The guys did a terrific job, and
the car was just perfect from the first lap
to the last,” said Mike
is a new package for us, with Lola, HPD and
Dunlop, yet we’ve had three podiums
from three races. Yes, it might have been
nice to be on the top step, but we were running
a genuine pro-am team this year and some
of the others were always going to have the
edge on us for pace. Based on past experience,
we knew that as long as the car was reliable
and we stayed out of trouble, we’d
be there at the end. The trouble is, two
other teams were reliable too. Even so, this
result should be a reminder to people that
we’re still a force to be reckoned
“Strakka ran an exceptional race,
the Pescarolo had the benefit of a full pro
line-up, and you’re never wise to dismiss
ASM. The Strakka HPD is clearly an exceptional
chassis and difficult to compete with on
pure pace, and that’s also something
that Nick (Leventis) has never been short
of. I think he surprised a lot of people
by driving such a good race – always
on the pace, keeping out of trouble, and
he deserves to be congratulated.”
“It has been a very different story
in P2 this year,” was Mike Newton’s
final take on the overall result. “Almost
all those that started the race have also
finished, and many quite strongly. To have
four cars in the top ten suggests that the
idea P2 must be considered fragile is going
to have to be revised.”
Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01c LMP2
Aston Martin Lola LMP1
Oak Racing Pescarolo LMP2
Lola B09/83 HPD LMP2
Oak Racing Pescarolo LMP2
Team Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek LMP2
Team Felbermayr Porsche 911 GT2
Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari 430 GT2
Larbre Competition Saleen S7-R GT1
BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 911 GT2
Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette GT1
AF Corse Ferrari 430 GT2
Imsa Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT2
Racing Performance Radical LMP2
BMW M3 GT2
Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek LMP2
Prospeed Competition Porsche 911 GT2
Young Drivers Aston Martin DBR9 GT1
WR Salini Zytek LMP2
Team Felbermayr Porsche 911 GT2
Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c
Kruse Schiller Motorsport Lola Judd
Drayson Racing Lola Judd LMP1
Le Mans 2010 gallery can be accessed here