The 82nd running of the 24 hours of Le Mans took another dramatic twist in the sixteenth hour as the leading Audi hit problems.
Things all seemed to be going Audi’s way following the retirement of the #7 Toyota. The #2 car held a two lap advantage over its sister car for most of the hour. Lucas di Grassi, driving the #1, was able to demote the #20 Porsche, driven by Mark Webber, to third place and pull away.
But in a race that has already featured so much drama, there was still more to come. Shortly before the end of the hour, Marcel Fassler brought the leading #2 Audi into the pits for an unscheduled stop. The car was pushed into its garage. There is no confirmation of what the problem is, but it could be turbo related.
The #1 had its scheduled pit stop without drama, with Marc Gene behind the wheel.
The issue for the #2 promotes the #1 Audi, which was heavily crashed by Loic Duval at the start of the week, into the lead of the race for the first time. Additionally, the #20 Porsche moves up into second place once more, but there is an eight lap gap back to the sole remaining #8 Toyota.
Elsewhere, the battle for LMP2 class honours looks to be fought between three cars. The #35 OAK Racing Ligier continues to lead as it has for much of the race, with the #36 Signatech Alpine in second. However, the latter was being caught by a second Ligier, the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing.
The GTE Pro class continues to be hotly contested as well. The leading #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 made a scheduled pit stop, with Toni Vilander taking over the driving duties. He held as much as a 25 second advantage over the #95 Aston Martin, but Stefan Mucke was soon lapping quickly and closing the gap once more.
In GTE-Am, the #95 Aston Martin continues to lead the way. The car made a brief visit to its pit garage for a change of brake discs and pads, but would still maintain the lead.
Things weren’t so positive for the #52 RAM Racing Ferrari, which has been retired from the race. The British team had had a catalogue of problems, including a fire, a damper failure and gearbox problem. Despite a gearbox change, the car has been retired with further transmission issues.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 16 hours
1 – #1 Audi Sport Team Joest – di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen
2 – #20 Porsche Team – Bernhard/Hartley/Webber
3 – #2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
1 – #35 Oak Racing – Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy
2 – #36 Signatech Alpine– Panciatici/Webb/Chatin
3 – #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing – Badey/Gommendy/Thiriet
1 – #51 AF Corse – Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella
2 – #97 Aston Martin Racing – Turner/Mücke/Senna
3 – #92 Porsche Team Manthey – Holzer/Lietz/Makowiecki
1 – #95 Aston Martin Racing – Poulson/Heinemeier Hansson/Thiim
2 – #88 Proton Competition – Al Qubaisi/Bachler/Ried
3 – #61 AF Corse – Cioci/Perez-Companc/Venturi