The stage is being set for the final act of the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans with the 22nd hour one of preparation. The LMP1 battle heated up as Timo Bernhard and Andre Lotterer grappled from a distance. The #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid led the motor race at the start of the hour but the #2 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro continued to chip away at the advantage.
The lead change came as Porsche put their pieces in place for the final run to the flag. Timo Bernhard brought the leader to pit lane to hand over to Mark Webber and as the car drew to a halt the Audi blasted past on the start/finish straight.
There was still hope for the Australian though. Lotterer was due for a full service pit stop before the end of the hour. No-one appeared to tell Audi this however and when the #2 car came to the pit lane for full service at the end of the hour, they just fuelled it and sent it back out.
In the dying seconds of the hour the fate of Porsche was sealed as Mark Webber hit problems on the Mulsanne straight.
In LMP2 the action was just as interesting and just as long ranged. It started around the half hour mark when the Race Performance Oreca headed into the garage. While not a major competitor in terms of podium positions in the latter part of the race the car had been very much in contention earlier on.
The OAK Racing Ligier held the lead of the class with Alex Brundle at the wheel. He was being chased by Tristan Gommendy in the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Ligier. Also working his way into contention was Harry Tinknell in the JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan.
Somehow the #35 car managed to hold onto the lead throughout the hour, while fourth placed competitor in the class Signatech Alpine, held the lead lap and waited for fireworks to happen.
LM GTE Pro passed the hour quietly at the head of the field. The #51 Ferrari 458 of AF Corse and Giancarlo Fisichella held the lead of the class throughout the hour and the only big change in the podium spots for the class came when Marc Lieb gave way to Frederic Makowieki. The Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR continued a lap behind the leader, nursing a misfire in the rear mounted engine.
Corvette Racing continued in third place.
For the Aston Martin Racing team it was an exciting hour. The #97 car in the hands of Darren Turner first came to the pits for an undisclosed engine problem, then spent an exciting ten seconds playing rallycross in the gravel at Mulsanne. Turner continue on expecting to have escaped problems from his off, only to be returned to the garage with a cracked exhaust manifold.
It was LM GTE Am which provided the road car based entertainment through the hour. First it was the Sofrev ASP entered Ferrari 458 when Sohail Ayari dropped the car into the gravel at the Ford Chicane. The car was in a position of danger so when the snatch vehicle rescued Ayari could bring it back to the pits and continue on from eighth in class.
The #95 Aston Martin continued into its ninth hour of leading the race in GTE Am while the cars many laps behind fought over the final two podium spots. The #88 Proton Competition Porsche was so desperate to keep in the position the car was clocked for speeding in the pit lane. A 45 second penalty gave the spot to Marco Cioci in the AF Corse Ferrari which continues to hold the position.
2014 24 Hours of Le Mans class standings after 22 hours
1 – #2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
2 – #20 Porsche Team – Bernhard/Webber/Hartley
3 –#1 Audi Sport Team Joest – di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen
1 –#35 Oak Racing – Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy
2 – #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing – Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy
3 –#38 JOTA Sport – Dolan/Tinknell/Turvey
1 –#51 AF Corse – Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella
2 –#92 Porsche Team Manthey – Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz
3 –##73 Corvette Racing Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor
1 – #95 Aston Martin Racing – Poulsen/Heinemeier Hansson/Thiim
2 – #88 Proton Competition – Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi
3 – #61 AF Corse – Perez Companc/Cioci/Venturi