Night falls over the Circuit de la Sarthe (Photo Credit: Rolex/Stephan Cooper)

Night falls over the Circuit de la Sarthe (Photo Credit: Rolex/Stephan Cooper)

The 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans entered the midnight hour with an Audi lock-out of the podium places ,with the field settled and relatively strung out.

The #1, #2 & #4 Audi’s ran the hour trouble free to remain top of the time-sheets ahead of the Rebellion Racing cars.

The hour stared quietly with a smattering of pitstops, driver changes and the odd pitlane speeding penalty the only action as the race seemed to settel down as they head toward the small hours. There were also a few minor offs, such as Philippe Haezebrouck, who spun his #43 Judd LMP2 car at the Michelin Chicane.

Then some drama. The #48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca-Nissan, which was leading the LMP2 class, was wheeled backwards into the garage after seemingly suffering a puncture and other issues at the rear end of the car. The car spent ten minutes in the garage before rejoining, albeit in a weaker position than before.

The clam was broken once again on lap 144, as a number of cars suffered troubles simultaneously out on track. First, the #80 Flying Lizard Porsche spun and stopped at the Michelin Chicane, while the #45 Boutsen Ginion Racing Oreca-Nissan stopped at the Porsche Curves. At the same time, the #28 Gulf Nissan had an off at Indianapolis. The #80 failed to get going again, while the #45 did shortly, before another off at the first chicane.

The race settled once again with a number of stops for the lead cars.

Then, the LMP2 leader curse struck once again when the #24 OAK Racing car struck problems. The car pitted for an unscheduled pit stop and was wheeled back into the garage. The initial signs looked bad and it seemed they were finished. However, the team started work on an apparent engine issue to try and get the car back out.

As the race heads into the small hours, its very much status quo at the front.

2012 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 9 hours:

LMP1

  1. #1 – Audi Sport Team Joest – Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer – 151 laps
  2. #2 – Audi Sport Team Joest – McNish/Capello/Kristensen – 151 laps
  3. #4 – Audi Sport Team North America – Bonanomi/Jarvis/Rockenfeller – 150 laps
  4. #12 – Rebellion Racing – Prost/Jani/Heidfeld- 147 laps
  5. #13 – Rebellion Racing – Belicchi/Primat/Bleekemolen – 146 lap

LMP2

  1. #44 – Starworks Motorsport – Potolicchio/Dalziel/Kimber-Smith – 141 laps
  2. #26 – Signatech Nissan – Panciatici/Ragues/Rusinov – 141 laps
  3. #49 – Pecom Racing – Perez Companc/Ayari/Kaffer- 141 laps
  4. #38 – Jota – Hancock/Dolan/Kurosawa – 140 laps
  5. #23 – Signatech Nissan – Tresson/Maillieux/Lombard – 140 laps

LMGTE Pro

  1. #74 – Corvette Racing – Gavin/Milner/Westbrook – 135 laps
  2. #51 – AF Corse – Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander – 135 laps
  3. #59 – Luxury Racing – Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher – 134 laps
  4. #73 – Corvette Racing – Taylor/Garcia/Magnussen – 134 laps
  5. #77 – Team Felbermayr-Proton – Lieb/Lietz/Henzler – 133 laps

LMGTE Am

  1. #67 – Imsa Performance Matmut – Armindo/Narac/Pons –  132 laps
  2. #50 – Larbre Competition – Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy – 131 laps
  3. #57 – Krohn Racing – Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo – 129 laps
  4. #61 – AF Corse-Waltrip – Kauffman/Aguas/Vickers- 127 laps
  5. #58 – Luxury Racing – Ehret/Montecalvo/Jeannette – 127 laps