24-Hour Le Mans: Cracks Showing?
From Brian Laban, in Le Mans
08.00: Just about on the stroke of sixteen hours in, eight to go, the pattern was finally broken, as the second-placed 7 Audi dived into the pits with heavily damaged rear bodywork – possibly caused by kerb-bumping and aero drag, because it certainly hadn’t hit anything. So the Audi lost about seven minutes for repairs, which meant the pressure finally eased a little on race-leader Nico Hulkenberg in the number 19 919 Hybrid, but only to extent that the 9 Audi was a little further back than the 7 had been – but still on the same lap.
Behind them, Mark Webber in 17 was now chased by the re-joining 7 Audi, the 8 car that had had its own early delay after thumping the barriers, the 18 Porsche and the distant Toyotas.
Forty minutes later, though, any tantalising possibility of a new distance record evaporated as a heavy accident for Roald Goethe’s GTE Aston Martin brought out the race’s fourth Safety Car. But records apart, the race between Porsche and Audi is still wide open, and literally as I write, the leading 19 Porsche’s pit-stop has seen it into the garage for a new rear wing. . .