Audi takes early Petit Le Mans lead
Date published : 02 Oct 2010 - 16:41:12
Audi is running one-two following the opening hour of the 2010 Petit Le Mans, with Allan McNish holding a comfortable lead over the sister car of Marcel Fassler.McNish picked up the lead with just a few minutes of the hour to go after Franck Montagny pitted his Peugeot 908. The Frenchman had been 20 seconds up the road, but is running a different strategy from the chasing pack having not pitted during the only full-course caution of the race so far.Peugeot's Marc Gene led the early stages from pole, while McNich snatched second from Montagny with a brilliant move around the outside through Turn 3. Gene comfortably pulled away as the battled raged behind. Montagny made his move for second through the chicane in a textbook outbraking move and took four seconds out of Gene in the next lap as the leader hit traffic.And it was traffic that was Gene's undoing on lap 10. As he hesitated among a gaggle of GT cars, both Montagny and McNish got by in one fell swoop. Track rookie Gene continued to lose further time working his way through the slower cars, while up front Montagny inched away.The Frenchman's work was undone on the 20-minute mark when the first full-course yellow flew after Bill Sweedler spun his Alez Job Racing GTC Porsche into the tyres and then became beached in the gravel as he tried to rejoin the track.Peugeot opted not to bring in Montagny, while Audi pitted both its cars, slick pitwork getting the second car of Fassler out ahead of the #08 Peugeot, now with Alex Wurz in the driving seat.Highcroft also decided not to pit, moving Simon Pagenaud into second on the road, while Drayson also kept out Jonny Cocker to move him into third. But McNish dispatched the young Briton in an instant at the restart, while Pagenaud fell to the Audi before the lap was out.Pagenaud holds a comfortable LMP2 class lead over the Dyson Lola-Mazda of Chris Dyson, while in GT2 Jaime Melo's Risi Ferrari has been the quickest car in the field, but the Brazilian had to work hard to regain his lead after losing a host of places in the pits.A very slick stop for the Rahal Letterman BMW of Dirk Muller earned him the class lead only for all that hard work to be undone after a penalty for contact with the GTC car of Shane Lewis. The second Risi Ferrari of Toni Vilander also picked up a one-lap penalty for contact with Olivier Beretta's Corvette.