SUNDAY 19TH JUNE 2005
With night gone and dawn breaking over La Sarthe, Audi still lead the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours but a French storm may be brewing in the shape of Emmanuel Collard at the wheel of Henri Pescarolo's eponymous title #16 prototype.
The Collard/Boullion/Comas driven Pescarolo continued to chip away at the two leading Champion Audi's, which became one when Allan McNish went off the road in the #2 Audi in the 15th hour at Indianapolis corner. A suspension problem, which led to a tyre problem, was the culprit and McNish was fortunate to be able to make it back to the pits.
The Scotsman's drama allowed Boullion up into second place, now just two laps behind the leading Lehto/Werner/Kristensen Audi and lapping significantly quicker than the #3 R8 as the race moves into its final eight hours.
After a lengthy stop, McNish finally resumed in third position, now four laps behind the second place Pescarolo and just one tour ahead of the ORECA Audi, which had earlier given the race leader a mighty scare in the final chicane, cutting across the gravel directly in front of Kristensen in the #3 Audi.
Three laps behind the French Audi, and ten laps behind the overall race leader is the second Pescarolo while the remarkable Team Jota Zytek continues its merry progress in sixth overall, two laps behind the fifth placed runner.
Two threats to Jota's top six position suffered problems in the early hours of daylight with both the Creation Zytek and the Jim Gainer Dome striking trouble. Andy Wallace suffered a radiator problem in the Creation entry and dropped behind the squabbling GT1 leaders while the Dome stopped on track with an as yet unidentifiable problem.
With just two laps separating the top four GT1 contenders and all four now running inside the top ten, the final hours of this year's race look anything but dull as the Enge/Kox/Lamy Aston Martin kept its one lap advantage over the leading Corvette of Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen, both cars lapping within a second of each other.
Separated by less than a minute, the second Corvette and Aston machines round out the top ten with the yellow American muscle car leading the dark green British beast. The two remaining Ferrari's, one from Larbre the other from Russian Age complete the class runners but there will be no Prancing Horse triumph this year.
An electrical problem for the RML Lola dropped it out of the lead in LMP2 shortly before dawn broke; allowing Paul Belmondo's pair of Courage's to occupy the top two slots. However with the Lola cured and lapping significantly quicker than the two French prototypes, the Hughes/Erdos/Newton had regained its slot at the head of the class by the end of the 15th hour.
The Alex Job/BAM Racing Porsche holds a two lap advantage over the Peterson/White Lightning Porsche in GT2 with the Flying Lizard entry a further six tours back in third.
1. #3 Lehto/Werner/Kristensen Champion Audi R8 245 laps
2. #16 Collard/Boullion/Comas Pescarolo-Judd 242 laps
3. #2 Biela/Pirro/McNish Champion Audi R8 239 laps
4. #4 Montagny/Gounon/Ortelli Playstation Oreca R8 237 laps
5. #17 Loeb/Helary/Ayari Pescarolo-Judd 234 laps
6. #9 Hignett/Stack/Kurosawa Jota Zytek 233 laps
7. #58 Enge/Kox/LamyAston Martin 232 laps
8. #64 Gavin/Beretta/Magnusson Chevrolet Corvette 232 laps
9. #63 Fellows/O'Connell/Papis Chevrolet Corvette 231 laps
10. #59 Brabham/Sarrazin/TurnerAston Martin 231 laps
Top three LMP1
1. #3 Lehto/Werner/Kristensen Champion Audi R8 182 laps
2. #2 Biela/Pirro/McNish Champion Audi R8 181 laps
3. #16 Collard/Boullion/Comas Pescarolo-Judd 178 laps
Top three LMP2
1. #36 Gosselin/Ojjeh/Sharpe Paul Belmondo Courage-Ford 209 laps
2. #25 Erdos/Newton/Hughes RML Lola-MG 206 laps
3. #37 Belmond/Andre/Sutherland Paul Belmondo Courage-Ford 204 laps
Top three GT1
1. #58 Enge/Kox/LamyAston Martin 232 laps
2. #64 Gavin/Beretta/Magnusson Chevrolet Corvette 232 laps
3. #63 Fellows/O'Connell/Papis Chevrolet Corvette 231 laps
Top three GT2
1. #71 Hindery/Rockenfeller/Lieb Porsche 911 220 laps
2. #90 Bergmeister/Long/Bernhard Porsche 911 219 laps
3. #80 Overbeek/Pechnik/Neiman Porsche 911 213 laps
Enge/Kox/Lamy, Aston Martin Racing, Aston Martin DBR9, Le Mans 24 Hours, 18/06/05
Tommy Erdos - RML Lola-MG