Racing action in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans – Click above for high-res image gallery
As the cars raced into the night at Le Mans, attrition has begun to take its toll. Several of the fastest cars on the track have succumbed to accidents or mechanical failures. For those who are planning to watch on DVR, move along, the rest of you can get a recap of the first 12 hours after the jump.
After 2 hours
Shortly after our first report, the BMW M3 GT2 art car suffered a tire puncture on the course. After Jorg Muller nursed the car back to the pits it was rolled into the garage where the aluminum central under-tray was found to be cracked. This may have been the cause of the puncture.
Frank Montagny continues to lead the four Peugeot 908s up front followed by the three Audi R15s and then the two factory Aston Martins. In LMP2 the two ex-Acura HPD ARX-01cs are leading with the Strakka Racing car ahead of the Highcroft machine.
In GT1, the Matech Competition Ford GT is ahead of the ex-factory GT1 Corvette C6.R. The Matech car is one three Fords that started the race. It would be quite an achievement for a Ford GT to win Le Mans four years after production ended and 41 years after its similar looking precursor last won the French enduro.
In the hotly contested GT2 class, the Corvettes continue to lead with Olivier Baretta ahead of Johnny O'Connell. The Risi Ferrari has moved up to third place behind the Corvettes.
At 2:26 into the race the #3 Peugeot in the hands of Pedro Lamy has suffered a right front puncture and smoke is pouring out as bodywork is ground down. Lamy was maintaining a lot of speed on the return to the pits, which generated a lot of downforce causing damage under the car.
Alan McNish is right on the tail of the fourth place Peugeot being run by Oreca Racing just before he heads into the pits for a driver change. In 2009, Pescarolo Racing ran a year-old Peugeot, but a lack of funding left the team out for 2010. In contrast, Oreca is actually running a brand new 908 with the same specification as the three factory cars.
Lamy has made it back to the pits and the car is going into the garage for repairs. The mechanics are very angry as they check out the car. The damage to the underside of the #3 Peugeot appears to be terminal. It's not clear yet if the root cause was a mechanical failure or the puncture. If it's the latter, than Lamy made a serious mistake as he sped back to the pits on a flat tire. It's now three on three, Peugeot vs Audi.
After 3 hours
A vibration has caused the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd to be wheeled into the garage so the crew can go over the car. When they send it back out, former Audi star Emanuelle Pirro will be taking the wheel.
The damage to the tub of the pole-winning #3 Peugeot is too severe to repair in the garage and it has been covered and retired.
The Risi-Krohn Ferrari has contacted the Race Performance Radical SR9 sending the P2 car into the gravel and the Ferrari to the garage for repairs.
Johnny O'Connell has brought his Corvette in for fuel after a 14-lap stint. The Risi Ferrari ran 15 laps on its last stint. Beretta in the other Corvette still leads Bruni in the Ferrari and then O'Connell.
The Matech GT1 Ford leads the Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DBR9 as the #73 Corvette pits.
The Pegasus Racing Norma-Judd has just come together in the Porsche curves with the GT2 Spyker C8 damaging both cars. Both cars have made it back to the pits.
After losing 11 laps in the garage, the BMW art car has returned to the track having had its entire rear suspension replaced.
It's been confirmed that the Mansell car suffered a rear puncture, which triggered the spin that ended his race just 15 minutes in.
After 4 hours
Anthony Davidson continues to lead Stephan Sarrazin in the two factory Peugeots as things have settled in for the long haul into the evening and night. The Oreca Peugeot has dropped a lap down with the three Audis right behind.
The Strakka and Highcroft HPD cars are leading the way in P2 while the Matech Ford has maintained its position over the Corvette in GT1.
Back in GT2, the Risi Ferrari has gone from last to first opening a two-second lead over Beretta's Corvette. The Ferrari is running harder than anyone while still getting the best fuel efficiency. That's gotta hurt for the Corvette Racing crew.
Bad news for eight-time winner Tom Kristensen as he went into the gravel trying to take the crawling BMW art car on the outside. The right-front wheel of the BMW was damaged and the driver couldn't turn in. However, TK had to make a quick decision as he came upon the BMW and chose wrong.
Kristensen made his way back to the pits, and after only two and a half minutes in the garage, the Audi-Joest crew had the #7 Audi back on its way.
Emmanual Collard in the #64 Corvette has retaken the GT2 lead from the Risi Ferrari.
After 5 hours
The all-female team driving the #61 Ford GT is now out of the race. Natacha Gachnang just pulled off the track right in front of the marshals with black smoke pouring out of the car. No visible fluids around the car, so not clear what the problem was.
The BMW art car is again limping and has just pulled off the pavement onto the grass. Poor Andy Priaulx is swerving back and forth as if he is out of gas. The art car just seems to be cursed. Meanwhile the Flying Lizard Porsche has been in the pits for some time having damaged a radiator.
Up at the head of the pack Alex Wurz is still flying in the #1 Peugeot. Wurz is the youngest ever Le Mans winner and has two overall victories in three starts.
After 6 hours
The Strakka HPD that has led LMP2 since the green flag fell spins off into the gravel during a full course yellow. After getting a push from the marshals, it makes its way back to the pits, but in the process the American Highcroft car moves into the class lead.
In GT2 the Flying Lizard Porsche has officially retired after being damaged in an accident. The 911 had a hole in its radiator and was losing oil pressure.
Hours 6 to 12
After Bryce Miller's #92 GT2 Aston Martin Vantage went off course at the Porsche Curves, the safety cars were brought out for a full course yellow. During the yellow flag period, Manual Rodrigues spun his Kolles Racing Audi R10, damaging the right front corner of the car.
After 7 hours the #1 Peugeot continued to lead the #2 car overall with the Strakka racing HPD leading the Highcroft machine in LMP2. The #60 remains out front in GT1 and Risi Ferrari is still ahead of the Corvettes in GT2.
At 22:18 the leading Peugeot headed into the pits with an electric problem giving up the lead to the #2 car. The team replaced an alternator but after a single lap back on the track the car was retired from the race. Shortly after that the #82 Risi Ferrari came in with a gearbox problem, stuck in second gear. The GT2 leader was worked on in the garage for some time and ultimately retired as well.
After eight hours, we're down to two Peugeots with all three Audis still going strong. The #2 Peugeot leads the #4 Oreca car followed by the Audis. Strakka still in front in P2, Ford GT in GT1 and #64 Corvette in GT2.
After nine and a half hours, the GT1-leading Ford collided with the Oak Racing Pescarolo-Judd triggering another full course yellow and extended pit time for both. The Larbre Competition Saleen S7R has moved to the front of the GT1 ranks ahead of the two Luc Alphond Corvettes.
During the 11th hour, the Audis moved ahead of the #4 Oreca Peugeot, closing in on the leading #2 Peugeot. The Strakka HPD, Larbre Saleen and Corvettes continue to lead the P2, GT1 and GT2 classes.
At hour 14, the #2 Peugeot continues to lead one lap up on the #9 Audi. The #8 Audi lies in third and Alex Wurz is back in fourth in the the #1 Peugeot. In LMP2 it's still the Strakka and Highcroft HPD cars in that order. In GT2, the #64 and 63 Corvettes lead the Team Felbermayer Porsche. Finally the Larbre Saleen continues to lead GT1 three laps down on the GT2 leading Corvette.