LE MANS
The 24 Hours
-
17/06/2001
 
Race Report
Part 7
 
The #9 Racing For Holland Dome is still climbing up the order, now up to 16th place and still charging.

Problems for the third placed #8 Bentley. Andy Wallace brings the car in, bodywork off. Team boss John Wickham tells Radio Le Mans "It's a gearbox problem". As a result, Stephane Sarrazin takes third in the #15 Chrysler. Teammate Olivier Beretta in the #16 Chrysler pits from 10th place and stays in the car to charge out again in pursuit of the #17 Courage. The Bentley loses a lap before rejoining in fifth position.

The #15 Chrysler Mopar LMP takes fourth place, demoting both the Bentley and the #38 ROC Reynard. So the order at 1.15am is R8, R8 (-150 secs), Chrysler , Chrysler, Bentley.

Further Retirements since our last report:

#56 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper (44 Laps)
#71 Racing Engineering Porsche 911 GT3-R (44 Laps)
#19 Phillipe Gache Courage-Judd (51 Laps)
#55 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper (61 Laps)


The #76 PK Sport Porsche pits with coolant leaking from the front of the car. Mike Youles "I believe Stephen (Day) touched another car and there's damage to the radiator".

The race seems to be over for the Champion Audi R8 as it is wheeled towards the 'dead' car park.

The Bentley retakes fourth from Ni Amorin's #14 Chrysler.

The GTS leading #63 Corvette is up to 6th place overall - surely a GTS car can't repeat the Daytona wins of 2000 and 2001! Is anyone at home in the RML Saleen?



The MG pits again. Chamberlain are clearly keen to use this race as a very long live test. A great many points have been proven by this team this weekend.

The two fastest men on the circuit at 1.30 am are both Chrysler drivers. Frank Montagny in the third placed #15 car is lapping in 4:27 but Beretta in #16 is now ninth and lapping in 4:21. But the #1 and #2 cars - numbers and positions - are typically at or beneath 4:25. It's not raining - it probably stopped at about 01.30, but the track is still very wet.



The ROC Reynard is still in the top ten (seventh), while the #20 Ascari is in ninth.



John Nielsen's trying race in the #10 Den Bla Avis Dome is finally over. Fuel pressure problems have finally defeated the Dane.

The #17 Courage has further woes. Pesca himself explained that the car had previously been stuck in gear and now there were further gearbox troubles. The car is down to tenth, with the 11th placed #6 Cadillac closing quickly. Olivier Beretta meanwhile was away and gone in the #16 Chrysler, now lapping in the 4:17s and 4:18s and closing in on 7th place.

Panoz news (the first for a while and the last for Le Mans 2001). The #12 car is out of the race with a major electrical failure in the gear selector. The #11 car too is out of the race. Panoz spokeswoman Fiona Miller reveals that Klaus Graf has had an 'off' coming out of the Porsche Curves; Klaus is shaken but unhurt and the car is too badly damaged to continue.

A quick and harmless spin for the second placed #2 Audi at Mulsanne Corner with Capello at the wheel. Next time round though the car looked wayward again at Mulsanne, could the Joest steamroller be running out of steam?

The #70 Callaway has had overheating problems, apparently caused by a slipping drivebelt on the waterpump. The team believed the problem had been solved, but after a handful of further laps the C12-R returns to its pit garage for further attention. It's 25th and last in GT, at 14.20.

2AM and the #36 Dick Barbour Reynard comes down the pitlane with the rear of the car well alight. The fire was quickly extinguished and Didier de Radigues hopped out unhurt. Cause unknown at the moment but the singed Reynard is out of the race.

PK Sport return to the fray, now back in 24th place, 9th in GT. Stephen Day is straight back on it, more than ten seconds a lap quicker than the cars ahead of him. He's got four laps to make up on the #79 del Bello car, if he's going to make up a place.

The ROC Reynard is now back up into sixth place, demoting the #63 Corvette.

02.20 - Aiello drives straight into his garage, for a rear end change. Stuart Codling of Radio Le Mans indicates that there are scorch marks around the back end. Kristensen goes a lap ahead in the favoured Biela / Pirro R8. After 5 minutes, it's out on the pit road again - fuel added, gone after 5 minutes 45, Capello at the wheel.

"The MG #33 has mild oil incontinence," according to an MG spokesman. It's not thought to be terninal.

Overall at 10 and a half hours:

1. #1 Joest R8
2. #2 Joest R8 (-1 lap)
3. #15 Chrysler LMP (-7 laps)
4. #8 Bentley (-9 laps)
5. #14 Chrysler LMP (10 laps)
6. #38 ROC Reynard (-10 laps)
7. #20 Ascari (-10 laps)
8. #63 Corvette (-11 laps)
9. #17 Pescarolo Courage (-12 laps)
10. #6 Cadillac Northstar (-12 laps)
11. #64 Corvette (13 laps)
12. #16 Chrysler LMP (13 laps)
13. #60 Saleen (-15 laps)
14. #83 Seikel Porsche (15 laps)
15. #62 RML Saleen (-15 laps)

But the Chryslers are in trouble - both 14 (starter trouble) and 15 are in for long stops. The Bentley should pass the stationary #15. The ROC and Ascari move up to fifth and sixth, which is extraordinarily satisfactory for both teams as we approach 11 hours into the race.











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