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Sunday at Le Mans 2010

For coverage of the previous nine hours, click here

Hour 10 (12:00-01:00)

Sunday 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 own power.

LMP2 Positions
LMP2 remains well served by active runners, although has lost a few in the preceding nine hours of racing. The order stands as:

  1. #42 Strakka Racing HPD (12th)
  2. #26 Highcroft HPD (14th)
  3. #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd (15th)
  4. #40 Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek (16th)
  5. #25 RML Lola HPD (18th)
  6. #41 Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek (19th)
  7. #39 KSM Lola Judd (20th)
  8. #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd (30th)
  9. #37 WR Salini Zytek (34th)
  10. #28 Race Performance Radical (42nd)
  11. #29 Racing Box Lola Judd (Retired)
  12. #38 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 or why.

00:57 Pitstop ( Driver: 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

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar

Hour 11

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.

Elsewhere, 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 908.

The 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.

In 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 margin.

01:49 Pitstop ( Driver: Newton out, Andy Wallace in. Fuel, tyres & screen clean)
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 his way.

Another pitstop for Highcroft. It's their thirteenth; one more than Strakka, but due about now.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, DailysportscarHour 12 (02:00-03:00)

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.

Although 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 on hard.

The 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 top.

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.

The #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 #79 BMW.

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.

02:41 Pitstop ( Driver: Wallace remains in. Fuel & screen/headlight clean only)
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.

The #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.

This 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 overall.

Hour 13 (03:00-04:00)

Half way!

It's 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.

The 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.

If 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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar

There's a car off in the Porsche Curves. The screen suggests Kolles R10 #14.

The #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 pitlane.

Pitstop for Nick Leventis in the Strakka HPD - fuel and visor clean. The car still a comfortable two-lap lead over Highcroft.

03:32 Pitstop ( Driver: Wallace remains in. Fuel & screen/headlight clean only)
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 Dunlop Chicane.

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 LMP2.

Both 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.

Hour 14 (04:00-05:00)

The 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.

Not 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.

04:23 Pitstop ( Driver: Wallace out, Erdos in. Fuel, tyres & screen/headlight clean)
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 of minutes.

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.

With 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.

The #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.

The #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.

Hour 15 (05:00-06:00)

With 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.

05:14 ( Driver: Erdos stays in. Fuel & screen/headlight clean)
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 away.

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.

Nic 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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, DailysportscarAn 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.

Hour 16 (06:00-07:00)

06:02 ( Driver: Erdos stays in. Fuel & screen/headlight clean)
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 RML Lola.

The #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 third.

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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Sunday morning. Photo: David Downes

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.

06:52 ( Driver: Erdos out, Mike Newton in. Tyres, fuel & clean)
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.

"Triple 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."

"The 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 to them."

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 incident occurred.

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.

Hour 17 (07:00-08:00)

So 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

The 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 be restarted.

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.

No sign of any return of the #39 KSM Lola, so potentially a sad end to a gallant run for the open-topped car.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Sunday morning. Photo: David Downes

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 overall.

Mike 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 repair.

Gap 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.

Hour 18 (08:00-09:00)

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.

Gap to Mike Newton from Moreau in third is 2 minutes 42.

The #41 car has eased through ahead of the still static #40.

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 it.

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 before.

Collard 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.

The suspension of racing is to allow the marshals to tidy up the debris and check the barrier and neighbouring catch fencing.

( Driver: Mike out, Andy Wallace in. Tyres, fuel & clean)
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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Sunday morning. Photo: David Downes

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.

With 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.

Hour 19 (09:00-10:00)

The 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 car.

The 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 or better.

09:28 ( Pitstop. 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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Sunday morning. Photo: David Downes

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.

Audi 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."

RML at Le Mans 2010. Sunday morning. Photo: David Downes

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.

Hour 20 (10:00-11:00)

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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Blumlein

10:25 (Pitstop. Driver: Andy stays in. Fuel & clean)
Pitstop for Andy Wallace for fuel. Brief and efficient.

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.

Hour 21 (11:00-12:00)

The 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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar

11:09 (Pitstop. Driver change: Andy out, Erdos in. Fuel, tyres & screen clean)
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 lead.

The #15 Kolles Audi is into the tyrewall at Indianapolis.

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 to defend.

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.

Once ahead, Wurz begins to pull clear relatively easily.

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 Oak.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar11:56 (Pitstop. Driver: 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.

Hour 22 (12:00-13:00)

Pitstop for #41. Routine.

Overall 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 puncture.

In 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.

The 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 driver.

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.

RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Blumlein

Hour 23 (13:00-14:00)

Just 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.

13:35 (Pitstop. Drivers: Erdos out, Wallace in. Tyres, fuel & screen clean)
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 final stop.

Further heartache for Peugeot and the French nation as the #4 Oreca Peugeot expires at Arnage. This time the left bank blows through Indianapolis.

The 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.

Finish (14:00-15:00)

What 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.

GT2 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.

RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. The final minutes. Photo: Marcus Potts

A final stop for Nicolet in the #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo.

The 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.

RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Waiting for the Finish. Photo: Marcus Potts

Tommy waits tentatively in the pitlane, watching as Andy ticks off the laps, and Mike waits to climb aboard the RML Lola for the final stint.

(Pitstop. Drivers: Wallace out, Newton in. Tyres, fuel & screen clean)
Mike 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 further incident.

The 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.

Having 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.

The 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.

Mike 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 and Andy.

RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Crossing the line. Photo: Marcus Potts

Phil 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 crew. They’re such a great group of guys and they deserved this."

“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 Newton. “This 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 with.”

“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.”

Result Listing:

  1. #9 Audi R15 LMP1
  2. #8 Audi R15 LMP1
  3. #7 Audi R15 LMP1
  4. #6 Oreca Matmut AIM LMP1
  5. #42 Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01c LMP2
  6. #007 Aston Martin Lola LMP1
  7. #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo LMP2
  8. #25 Lola B09/83 HPD LMP2
  9. #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo LMP2
  10. #41 Team Bruichladdich Ginetta Zytek LMP2
  11. #77 Team Felbermayr Porsche 911 GT2
  12. #89 Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari 430 GT2
  13. #50 Larbre Competition Saleen S7-R GT1
  14. #97 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 911 GT2
  15. #72 Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette GT1
  16. #95 AF Corse Ferrari 430 GT2
  17. #76 Imsa Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT2
  18. #28 Racing Performance Radical LMP2
  19. #78 BMW M3 GT2
  20. #40 Quifel ASM Ginetta Zytek LMP2
  21. #75 Prospeed Competition Porsche 911 GT2
  22. #52 Young Drivers Aston Martin DBR9 GT1
  23. #37 WR Salini Zytek LMP2
  24. #88 Team Felbermayr Porsche 911 GT2
  25. #26 Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c
  26. #39 Kruse Schiller Motorsport Lola Judd
  27. #85 Spyker GT2
  28. #11 Drayson Racing Lola Judd LMP1

RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. On the Podium. Photo: David Lord

Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Downes

The Le Mans 2010 gallery can be accessed here

Le Mans 24 Hours 2010

Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France
Raceday - Sunday June 13th 2010

RML AD Group at Le Mans 2010. Crossing the line. Photo: Marcus Potts





























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RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar























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RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: David Blumlein








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RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar




RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar








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RML at Le Mans 2010. Photo: Peter May, Dailysportscar














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