Sunday, June 17, 2007

2007 24 Hours of Le Mans - "Live" Coverage
Section 3

Flying Lizard Motorsports 8:19 pm (ET) Saturday
Coming back from the latest break in Speed Channel coverage, we learn that the #80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 has been retired due to a cracked crankcase. Unfortunately this prevents any kind of final-hour battle between Jorg Bergmeister and Jamie Melo such as at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

9:14 pm Saturday
We have had a chance to get up-close footage of several Peugeot pitstops, and during all of the recent stops, mechanics have pulled louvers off of the sidepods of the car to pull rubber bits out of the radiators located there. We have just learned that the 908s are in fact having cooling problems, even in the cool night air. When Audi first introduced the R10 and ran at Sebring, they experienced similar problems and attempted similar mid-race solutions. Both teams have gone to their most open louver patterns at the expense of a small amount of added drag. Audi eventually reconfigured the cooling system of the car after that Sebring race, so Peugeot may have trouble rectifying the problem while still here at Le Mans.

9:35 pm Saturday
During an interview in the Team Oreca pits, Steve Saleen has revealed that he has stepped down from his leadership position at Saleen, Inc. According to Saleen, he is "there in spirit" and "still supporting the company," however he is directing his efforts at a company aiming to import Chinese cars to the American market. This is no doubt somewhat disappointing to fans of the Saleen S7, and leaves one to wonder what is in the water that would cause the likes of Malcom Bricklin and Steve Saleen to busy themselves with these ventures.

9:52 pm Saturday
The #82 Team LNT Panoz Esperante has been wheeled into the garage, likely for extensive repairs. The #81 sister car retired some time ago, continuing the lackluster performance of Panoz cars at Le Mans. With the exception of the unlikely GT2 win last year, the Panoz cars have been relatively unsuccessful. This is somewhat surprising considering Dr. Don Panoz started the American Le Mans Series himself.

10:38 pm Saturday
The #55 Oreca Saleen S7R has been wheeled back into the garage with starter trouble. This was the leading Saleen and was running 6th in class when it came in.

12:00 am Sunday
An interview with Team LNT owner/driver Richard Dean revealed that the #82 Panoz Esperante suffered a suspension upright failure, necessitating a lengthy repair and dimming the hopes of a repeat class victory. The sister #81 Panoz, the only other Panoz in the field, retired from the race after less than 70 laps.
Also out of the race are both Spyker C8 Spyders.

Risi Competizione 12:20 am Sunday
The class-leading Ferrari F430 of Risi Competizione has been wheeled into the garage with front radiator damage. The cause of the damage is unclear, although it is severe enough to warrant a radiator change. This will certainly take a number of laps, putting the Ferrari's previously-dominant lead in jeopardy.

12:55 am Sunday
Prodrive Aston Martin has suffered a slight setback with the #007 DBR9. It has apparently taken an off-course excursion and damaged the front splitter to the point of needing replacement. The car is currently in the garage although it appears to be a quick fix.

1:35 am Sunday
The race leading #2 Audi R10 has been pitched into a tire barrier; replays show one of the wheels coming off of the car prior to the incident. Rinaldo Capello has left the car and it appears as though his day is done.

5:45 am Sunday
The Risi Competizione #97 Ferrari has been retired from the race, presumably due to complications with the radiator damage sustained earlier. The sister #99 car is still running, and is in fact second in class.

6:39 am Sunday
Peugeot's lead entry has been wheeled into the garage where the engine cover came off in a hurry. Two mechanics are thoughtfully holding the engine cover in front of the garage door, completely blocking any camera shot. This is possibly an evolution of the cooling problems that have plagued the two French entries throughout the race.

6:52 am Sunday
An interview with Giuseppe Risi has revealed that the radiator damage on the #99 Ferrari F430 caused irreparable water pump damage that then retired the car.

7:22 am Sunday
The #7 Peugeot has been brought out of the garage and back to the track. The exact issue is still unknown, although it is strongly suspected to be electrical. The car then stalled twice on leaving the pits, although it isn't known if the stalls are related to the other problem. Unfortunately the car has spent enough time in the garage that a podium finish is incredibly unlikely.

Peugeot Sport 7:37 am Sunday
The ailments to the #7 Peugeot have proven terminal, as the car has been officially retired from the race.

8:14 am Sunday
The safety cars have been deployed due to the torrential rain that has been pounding the track for the last hour or so. This is bad news for the remaining Corvette Racing C6R, as it had been running significantly quicker than the leading Aston Martin DBR9 in the rain. The Vette is still one lap back of the Aston, so it will not be able to pass while under the safety car. Corvette Racing is obviously opposed to the safety car deployment; their arguement is that no cars had yet gone off of the track due to the rain.
The remaining Peugeot has just come in for what looked to be a routine pit stop for a final splash of gas, but it was immediately put up on dollys and wheeled into the garage when it came in.

8:20 am Sunday
It has been reported that during a previous interview with Oliver Gavin, he indicated that the reason for the prop shaft failure that put the #64 Corvette Racing C6R out of the race was caused by a harmonic vibration which occured when two of the engine's cylinders were shut down as a fuel-saving measure during a safety car period.

8:49 am Sunday
With just over ten minutes left in the race, the safety cars have been parked and the racers let loose. The strongest implication is in the GT1 class, where Ron Fellows now has a chance, however slight, of catching David Brabham in the lead Aston Martin DBR9.

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