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UPDATE: 24 Hueres Du Mans; Race Day!

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On: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 9:36AM | By: John Welch

UPDATE: 24 Hueres Du Mans; Race Day!

The cars are waiting on the grid, the drivers anxiously pulling on their gloves and HANS device. I've got my pound of coffee, two laptops and a clear schedule. We will be updating the 24 Hours of Le Mans all day, but first a few dramatic happenings before the race has even begun.

The GT2 pole went to Risi Competitzione and Ferrari after qualifying, but it was stripped from the team after post-qualifying tech inspection. The rear wing on the Risi F430 GTE was found to be an inch to short. This infraction cost the American team the pole and possibly the race; they will now start from the very rear of the field. Crushing disappointment for Risi, the Ferrari teams penalty was Corvette Racing's gain. Having qualified second and third, Le Mans now has an all Corvette front-row in GT2. Another interesting note, both GT2 Corvettes qualified in front of several GT1 cars.

The Audi R15's are struggling for pace. Out qualified by all of the Peugeot 908's, the Audis need to hustle at the beginning of the race just to keep it interesting. Both diesel teams are light years faster then gasoline-engined car LMP's, but the Peugoet is one order faster then the Audi. Lack of testing due to economic kafuffles has seriously affected Audi's ability to stay ahead of their competition. The economic climate favors the older and better-sorted 908, rendering the R15 Plus's potential technological advantage moot.

The race is underway, and Allan McNish is ramming his R15 right up the ORECA Peugeot’s arsche. This apparent recklessness is classic McNish, driving the first lap of a 24-hour race as if it were the last lap. Updates throughout the day . . .

UPDATE, Lap 5: Nigel Mansell loses a rear tire on his Ginetta-Zytek, crashing into the barrier at the entrance of the Indianapolis corner. Mansell is taken in the ambulence, no word on his condition.

Class Leaders,

LMP1: Peugoet 908 No. 3

LMP2: Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01c No. 42

GT1: Matech Ford GT No. 60

GT2: Corvette ZR1 No. 64

UPDATE, Lap 38: 21 hours 30 minutes to go, and crazy things are starting to happen. Rubbing a curb just a bit to hard, the leading No. 3 Peugoet 908 HPDi FAP comes to the pit lane and is wheeled into the garage. It isn't clear how bad the damage is, but the mechanics are slinging their headsets across the Peugoet pits. Pedro Lamy may have broken a lower wishbone mount, possibly ending the race for the dominant French team.

The Audi R15 Plus of Allan McNish, No.7, was able to turn a 13 lap stint, pitting just as the No. lost it's lead. Turning one lap more then the longest stint Peugoet has been able to complete, Audi may have found an economy advantage over their inter-European rival . . .

The Patron-Highcroft HPD ARX-01c picked up some debris after Nigel Mansell's crash on lap 5. The car's handling became unpredictable and David Brabham had to slow his pace. Over the course of the next twenty laps the handling returned to the American prototype- Look for them to catch up with the LMP2 leader by the second driver change.

Class Leaders:

LMP1: Peugoet 908 No.2

LMP2: Strakka Racing ARX-01c No. 42

GT1: Matech Ford GT No.60

GT2: Corvette ZR1 No.64

UPDATE Lap 55: 12:30 and the race coverage on SPEED comes to an end until 6 p.m. EST. You don't have to settle for a break in the action however, the missing portion of the SPEED coverage is being streamed from SPEEDtv.com as we speak. Back at 6 with a full update and more images!

UPDATE Lap 198: Sooo, it's a little after six . . . I know. The Party Du Mans got a smidge out of control. Many crazy happenings since the television coverage has gone off and come back on air, so we'll dive right in.

Peugeot is still leading, but a win is no longer a given. The No. 2 908 is plodding right along, but the other three works-supported 908s havr all had their issues. The No. 1 car had an electrical issue, the No. 4 ORECA 908 a drive-shaft gremlin. The No. 3, pole-sitting Peugeot went out in the first four hours when the suspension fell apart. And seperated itself from the chassis. And Sebatian Bourdais shed a tear. The second and third LMP positions are now Audi's, and the 007 AMR Lola is in fourth.

Patron-Highcroft is still 2nd in LMP2, and they are on the same lap as the UK-based Strakka Racing ARX-01c. I wish they could have run their normal headlights, I don't think I like the "low-downforce" package all that much.

Corvette ZR1's continue to occupy the top two positions in GT2, and, a surprise, Labre Competition is heading up the GT1 field, maintaining a healthy lead in their ancient Saleen S7R.

Class Leaders:

LMP1: Peugeot 908 No. 2

LMP2: Strakka Racing ARX-01c No. 42

GT1: Labre Competition Saleen S7R No. 50

GT2: Corvette ZR1 No. 64

UPDATE Lap 388: 30 minutes to go and we have eclipsed the distance record for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is an arbitrary statistic in a sense; the La Sarthe circuit is on it's fourteenth iteration. The old record stood at 382 laps, so by the end of the hour that record will have been demolished.

The craziness hasn't stopped throughtout the evening. There are ZERO Peugeots still on track. Three engine failures and a crumbling chassis have put the French manufacturer out of the race . . . Not that they didn't have it coming. Shortly after dawn, Anthony Davidson, who had been caught on camera verbally dispareging his teammates earlier in the day, took the wheel of the No. 1 Peugeot 908. Frustrated by a race that was quickly turning sour, Davidson turned up the wick and began circling La Sarthe a second a lap faster then the rest of the field. So fast, that 'ole Tony didn't notice the leader in GT2 occupying a slice of asphalt that the 908 required to maintain forward progress. Mowing down the No. 64 Corvette ZR1 of Emmanuele Collard wasn't completely nesessary, and karma bit the French team later. The loss of the 64 represents the last serious ALMS team to fall out of the race. A shame, American teams had it pretty rough at Le Mans this year.

Audis are one, two, three on the scoreboard, a post regarding the finish sooooonnn . . . .

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