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2005 24 Hours of Le Mans

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2005 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners
A bronze plaque with the handprints of the overall winners.

The 73rd 24 Hours of Le Mans (French: 73e 24 Heures du Mans) was an automobile endurance race held for Le Mans Prototype and Grand Touring cars from 18 to 19 June 2005 at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. It was the 73rd running of the event, as organised by the automotive group, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) since 1923. Unlike other events, it was not a part of any endurance motor racing championship. A test day was held two weeks prior to the race on 5 June. Approximately 230,000 people attended the race.

A Pescarolo Sport C60 car shared by Jean-Christophe Boullion, Emmanuel Collard and Érik Comas started from pole position after Boullion set the overall fastest lap time in the fourth qualifying session. The car led the first two hours until a gearbox fault forced it into the garage for repairs and promoted the Champion Racing Audi R8 vehicle of Emmanuele Pirro to the lead until Pirro crashed after a safety car intervention. The sister Champion car of JJ Lehto, Tom Kristensen and Marco Werner took over the lead and maintained it for the rest of the race to win. It was Werner's first Le Mans win, Lehto's second and Kristensen's seventh. Kristensen eclipsed Jacky Ickx as the all-time leader of overall Le Mans victories and Audi took its fifth win since the 2000 edition. Pescarolo finished two laps behind in second and the sister Champion Audi car of Frank Biela, Allan McNish and Pirro completed the race podium in third.

The Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) category was won by the Ray Mallock Racing MG-Lola EX264 car of Thomas Erdos, Mike Newton and Warren Hughes after it took the class lead in the final hour of the race. Karim Ojjeh, Claude-Yves Gosselin and Adam Sharpe in a Paul Belmondo Racing Courage C65 vehicle finished five laps behind the MG-Lola in second while the sister No. 37 car of Didier André, Paul Belmondo and Rick Sutherland was third in class. Corvette Racing won their fourth class victory since their debut in the 2001 race. Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen's No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R held a two-lap advantage over the No. 63 of Ron Fellows, Max Papis and Johnny O'Connell in the Le Mans Grand Touring 1 (LMGT1) category. Porsches led the Le Mans Grand Touring 2 (LMGT2) class with the No. 71 Alex Job Racing 911 GT3-RSR of Leo Hindery, Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller ahead of the No. 90 White Lighting Racing car of Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Timo Bernhard.

Background[edit]

The dates of the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans were released in September 2004.[1] It was the 73rd edition of the race and took place at the 8.482 mi (13.650 km) Circuit de la Sarthe from 18 to 19 June.[2] The automotive journalist Charles Faroux proposed the race to Georges Durand, the president of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), and the industrialist Emile Coquile for a test of vehicle reliability and fuel-efficiency, which was first held in 1923.[3][4] The event is considered one of the world's most prestigious motor races and is part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport.[5]

Regulation and track changes[edit]

2005 marked major changes in the Le Mans regulations for the two Grand Touring (GT) categories. The Le Mans Grand Touring Sport category was renamed Le Mans Grand Touring 1 (LMGT1) and the Le Mans Grand Touring category became the Le Mans Grand Touring 2 (LMGT2) class. New vehicles in both of the classes were required to undergo homologation by both the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, the world governing body of motor racing, and the ACO.[6] 2005 was the final year that cars built to confirm with the Le Mans Prototype 900 (LMP900) regulations could be entered alongside the newer "hybrid" cars constructed to comply to the updated aerodynamic regulations in the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) category. LMP900 cars were required to run with a smaller air restrictor to lower engine performance and were required to weigh more than "hybrid" cars.[7]

The ACO recommended that LMGT1 cars lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe no faster than 3 minutes, 55 seconds and LMGT2 were not permitted to go quicker than 4 minutes, 8 seconds. Had these rules not been met, the automotive group would immediately intervene to lower the performance of individual cars by altering their aerodynamic efficiency, reducing the size of the air restrictor and the fuel tank for future editions of the Le Mans race.[8][9] GT2-specification vehicles were allowed to complete if a minimum of 100 road-going cars were constructed by "the big manufacturers" and 25 produced by "the small manufacturers." Otherwise, the ACO would suspend holomogation for the 2006 edition.[9]

From late 2004 to early 2005, the circuit was resurfaced from Mulsanne to Arnage corners and a section of road was levelled at the circuit's 89th post.[2]

Entries[edit]

The ACO received 78 applications (37 for the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) classes and 41 for the GT categories) by the deadline for entries on 19 January 2005. It granted 50 invitations to the race and entries were divided between the LMP1, Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), LMGT1 and LMGT2 categories.[10]

Automatic entries[edit]

Automatic entries were earned by teams which won their category in the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teams which won Le Mans-based series and events such as the 2004 Petit Le Mans, the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series and the 2004 American Le Mans Series were also invited. Some second-place finishers were also granted automatic entries in certain series though none were awarded to the winners and runners-up of the GT and N-GT categories of the 2004 FIA GT Championship as had been the case in the previous year.[11] As entries were pre-selected to teams, they were restricted to a maximum of two cars and were not allowed to change their vehicles from the previous year to the next. Entries were permitted to change category provided that they did not change the make of car and the ACO granted official permission for the switch.[12]

On 18 January 2005, the ACO published its final list of automatic invitations.[13] The overall winners of the 2004 race Audi Sport Japan Team Goh and the runners-up Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx were among the teams to decline their automatic entries. Dyson Racing, Prodrive Racing, Barron Connor Racing, ChoroQ Racing Team, JMB Racing and Alex Job Racing also did not accept their automatic entries. No replacements were found.[13]

Reason Entered LMP1 LMP2 LMGT1 LMGT2
1st in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Japan Audi Sport Japan Team Goh1 United States Intersport Racing United States Corvette Racing United States White Lighting Racing
2nd in the 24 Hours of Le Mans United Kingdom Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx1 France Rachel Welter United Kingdom Prodrive Racing1 Japan ChoroQ Racing Team1
1st in the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series United Kingdom Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx1 France Courage Compétition France Larbre Compétition United Kingdom Sebah Automotive
2nd in the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series Japan Team Goh1 France PiR Compétition Netherlands Barron Connor Racing1 Monaco JMB Racing1
1st in the 2004 Petit Le Mans United States Champion Racing United States Intersport Racing United States Corvette Racing United States Alex Job Racing1
1st in the 2004 American Le Mans Series United States Dyson Racing1 United States Miracle Motorsports United States Corvette Racing United States Flying Lizard Motorsports
Source:[11][13]
1.^  – Team declined their automatic invitations.[11]

Entry list and reserves[edit]

On 24 March 2005, the ACO announced the full 50-car entry list for Le Mans, plus eight reserves.[14] Following the publication of entries, several teams withdrew their entries. Team Nasamax withdrew its two-year old bio-ethanol powered DM139-Judd car, citing financial difficulties causing the team to reduce its schedule for the 2005 racing season. This promoted the No. 91 T2M Motorsport Porsche 911-GT3 RSR to the race entry and it competed in the LMGT2 category.[15] Four days later, ACEMCO Motorsports withdrew its No. 63 Saleen S7-R due to aerodynamic deficiencies caused by a modification of the height of the car's rear wing at the 2004 Petit Le Mans to comply with ACO regulations. This promoted the No. 76 IMSA Performance LMGT2-class Porsche to the race from the reserves.[16]

A revised entry list released by the ACO on 27 April confirmed the withdrawal of the Team Nasamax and ACEMCO Motorsports entries as well as the dropping of the Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R, Thierry Perrier's Porsche 911-GT3 RSR, a second Racing for Holland Dome S101-Judd car, a Ferrari 360 Modena GTC fielded by G.P.C. Sport and a second Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello purchased by Larbre Compétition from the reserve list.[17] Four days before the start of scrutineering, Lucchini Engineering were unable to rectify a gearbox ratio problem in its LMP2/04 and were forced to withdraw the car, reducing the number of entries to 49.[18]

Testing[edit]

A mandatory pre-Le Mans test day to work on car setup and driver orientation split into two daytime sessions of four hours each was held at the circuit on 5 June, involving 50 entries. Rainfall towards the end of the afternoon session prevented teams from improving their lap times.[12][19] Pescarolo Sport set the day's pace with a 3 minutes, 32.468 seconds lap from Emmanuel Collard in the No. 16 C60 Hybrid Judd car.[20] Soheil Ayari's sister No. 17 Pescarolo followed in second and Jonathan Cochet's No. 13 Courage Compétition car was third. The fastest Audi R8 vehicle was fourth after a lap from JJ Lehto's No. 3 Champion Racing entry and Seiji Ara's No. 5 Jim Gainer International Dome S101 car was fifth. João Barbosa set a lap to put the No. 18 Rollcentre Racing Dallara SP1 car in sixth position and Franck Montagny's Team Oreca Audi was seventh.[21] Sam Hancock led the LMP2 class in the No. 32 Intersport Racing Lola B05/40 vehicle with a time of 3 minutes, 44.426 seconds ahead of Ray Mallock's No. 32 MG-Lola EX264 of Thomas Erdos, the No. 30 Kruse Motorsport Courage C65 of Phil Bennett and Didier André's No. 37 Paul Belmondo Racing cars.[21] Aston Martin, in its first Le Mans works entry since the 1989 event,[22] led the LMGT1 category with a 3 minutes, 50.033 seconds lap from Tomáš Enge's No. 58 DBR9 with the No. 59 of David Brabham second. Christophe Bouchut's No. 61 Cirtek Motorsport Ferrari and the No. 64 and No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C6.Rs of Oliver Gavin and Johnny O'Connell occupied third to fifth in class.[21] The No. 90 White Lighting Racing car of Timo Bernhard helped Porsche to lead the LMGT2 category, followed by Robin Liddell's No. 77 Panoz Esperante GT-LM and the No. 76 IMSA Performance car of Romain Dumas.[21]

Qualifying[edit]

Eight hours of qualifying divided into four two-hour sessions were available to all entrants on 15 and 16 June. During the sessions, all entrants were required to set a time within 115 per cent of the fastest lap established by the fastest vehicle in each of the four categories to qualify for the race.[12] Rain fell at the start of the first session, making the track slippery and reducing visibility.[23] Some drivers met the required minimum distance to drive in the race.[24] Collard led with a lap of 4 minutes, 13.526 seconds, which he set late in the session. Champion's lead Audi was in second with a lap from Tom Kristensen, and Ryo Michigami's Jim Gainer Dome car was third.[25] Andy Wallace was fourth in Creation Autosportif's No. 7 DBA 03S-Judd car and Michael Krumm's Rollcentre Dallara vehicle came in fifth. Ayari's Pescarolo entry was provisionally sixth and Allan McNish was seventh in the No. 2 Champion car.[23] Bouchut carried the Cirtek Ferrari to provisional pole in LMGT1 with a 4 minutes, 23.885 seconds time, ahead of the two Aston Martin cars by more than 12 seconds.[25] A lap of 4 minutes, 24.832 seconds gave the LMP2 lead to Andre's Paul Belmondo Courage and the Intersport Lola of Hancock was second.[25] Earlier, the No. 39 Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport Lola car of Peter Owen had caused the session to be stopped because of a loss of control at its rear while changing gears. Owen crashed at the exit of the second Mulsanne chicane but he was unhurt.[23] Mike Rockenfeller's Alex Job Porsche was fastest in LMGT2 with a 4 minutes, 37.574 seconds lap, followed by Jörg Bergmeister's No. 90 White Lighting and Dumas' No. 76 IMSA Performance entries.[23][25]

The track dried towards the conclusion of the second qualifying session and lap times began to lower.[24] Ayari in Pescarolo's No. 17 car improved provisional pole position by more than 12 seconds with a 4 minutes, 1.197 seconds lap just before the session ended, followed by the improved No. 2 Champion Audi of McNish and Nicolas Minassian in Creation Autosportif's No. 7 DBA 03S entry.[26] Montagny put the Oreca Audi on provisional pole with half an hour remaining before falling to fourth. Lehto in the second Champion car fell to fifth. Michigami was sixth and Jota's Zytek 04S car of Sam Hignett seventh.[27] The Rollcentre Dallara suffered a flash fire that damaged the car's bodywork due to a seal on a fuel rig braking during a pit stop. The damage to the car curtailed its running early.[28] Hancock gave the Intersport team provisional pole position in the LMP2 class after displacing the Paul Belmondo car of Andre, setting a time of 4 minutes, 11.719 seconds, a second faster than Ian James' second-placed No. 34 Miracle Motorsports Courage. In LMGT1, Larbre Compétition led the session with a 4 minutes, 20.688 seconds lap from Vincent Vosse to displace the Cirtek Ferrari from the top of the category's time sheets. Similarly, Dumas recorded a lap of 4 minutes, 25.598 seconds in the IMSA Performance Porsche to lead the LMGT2 category with 35 minutes to go.[27]

The No. 16 Pescarolo Sport C60 took overall pole position in the hands of Emmanuel Collard during the final qualifying session.

The weather for the two qualifying sessions on 16 June was humid and dry.[29] For the second consecutive session, Ayari's No. 17 Pescarolo vehicle improved provisional pole position to a 3 minutes, 35.555 seconds lap. Team Oreca's Audi of Montagny placed second and McNish was the fastest Champion car in third. Cochet improved the No. 13 Pescarolo's time in the session's final minutes to go into fourth as Minassian's DBA 03S fell to fifth. Michigami's Jim Gainer Dome maintained sixth and Barbosa's Rollcentre Dallara was seventh.[30] The No. 16 Pescarolo C60 had its times deleted for Collard touching the car after relieving Jean-Christophe Boullion though the penalty was rescinded 40 minutes later.[31] In LMP2, Warren Hughes' first lap of 3 minutes, 49.845 seconds in the No. 25 Ray Mallock MG-Lola was bettered by James' 3 minutes, 48.819 seconds time in the No. 34 Miracle Courage C65 to lead the category.[29] A crash at the exit to Indianapolis corner by Jean-Bernard Bouvet's No. 23 Gerard Welter WR LMP04 car halted the session after 90 minutes.[29][32] Pedro Lamy helped Aston Martin to lead in LMGT1 with a 3-minute, 50.311-second lap, followed by Brabham's No. 59 car and Gavin and O'Connell's Corvettes.[30] Rockenfeller greatly improved Alex Job's Porsche lap to maintain the lead in LMGT2 with a time of 4 minutes, 5.326 seconds. Johannes van Overbeek's No. 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports and Bill Auberlen's No. 77 Panoz were second and third in class.[30] Tom Coronel's throttle stuck in the No. 85 Spyker C8 Spyder GT2-R and he crashed in the Porsche Curves.[33] Andrew Kirkcaldy's No. 93 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari struck a barrier at the Ford Chicane.[29]

As temperatures cooled in the final qualifying session, three quarters of the field improved their fastest laps,[34] including Collard's No. 16 Pescarolo car with a lap of 3 minutes, 34.715 seconds on his first lap. He maintained first for the rest of qualifying to secure pole position. Ayari joined Collard on the grid's front row with a lap that was 0.840 seconds slower. McNish's Champion car was the highest-placed Audi, in third, Katsumoto Kaneishi bettered the Jim Gainer Dome's lap to start fourth and Montagny's Team Oreca Audi qualified fifth.[32] Shinji Nakano's No. 13 Courage C60 and Minassian's No. 7 DBA 03 vehicles were sixth and seventh.[34] The No. 34 Miracle Courage C65 car of Andy Lally, Hancock, Erdos and Andre shared the lead of the LMP2 category early in the session until Andre's lap of 3 minutes, 42.301 seconds secured pole position for the Paul Belmondo team.[32] In LMGT1 Aston Martin maintained the first two positions as Brabham led until Enge took pole position with ten minutes left with a lap of 3 minutes, 48.576 seconds.[34] Corvette Racing was third with Gavin's No. 64 car ahead of the Cirtek Ferrari of Alexei Vasiliev. Rockenfeller of Alex Job Racing retained first place in LMGT2 from the No. 80 Flying Lizard and No. 77 Panoz cars.[34][35] A crash for Bergmeister into Tetre Rouge corner ended Flying Lizard's session early.[32][35]

Post-qualifying[edit]

Although G-Force Racing had qualified more than 115 per cent slower than the fastest qualifying car in the LMP2 category, the stewards applied force majeure after the team's No. 35 Courage C65 vehicle was heavily damaged in the first qualifying session. The team were granted dispensation to start the race from the rear of the grid.[36]

Qualifying results[edit]

Pole position winners in each class are indicated in bold. The fastest time set by each entry is denoted in gray.

Pos Class No. Team Car Day 1 Day 2 Gap Grid
1 LMP1 16 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo C60 Hybrid-Judd 4:13.526 3:34.715 1
2 LMP1 17 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo C60 Hybrid-Judd 4:01.197 3:35.555 +0.840 2
3 LMP1 2 ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 4:02.027 3:37.795 +3.080 3
4 LMP1 5 Jim Gainer International Dome S101Hb-Mugen 4:08.745 3:38.094 +3.379 4
5 LMP1 4 Audi PlayStation Team Oreca Audi R8 4:05.770 3:38.281 +3.566 5
6 LMP1 13 Courage Compétition Courage C60H-Judd 4:26.247 3:38.785 +4.070 6
7 LMP1 7 Creation Autosportif DBA 03S-Judd 4:02.992 3:38.929 +4.214 7
8 LMP1 3 ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 4:07.643 3:38.988 +4.273 8
9 LMP1 18 Rollcentre Racing Dallara SP1-Judd 4:28.852 3:39.643 +4.928 9
10 LMP1 9 Team Jota Zytek 04S 4:09.578 3:41.177 +6.462 10
11 LMP1 10 Racing for Holland Dome S101-Judd 4:15.816 3:41.930 +7.265 11
12 LMP2 37 Paul Belmondo Racing Courage C65-Ford AER 4:14.406 3:42.301 +7.526 12
13 LMP1 12 Courage Compétition Courage C60H-Judd 4:45.084 3:42.859 +8.144 13
14 LMP1 8 Rollcentre Racing Dallara SP1-Nissan 4:20.862 3:43.377 +8.662 14
15 LMP2 32 Intersport Racing Lola B05/40-AER 4:11.719 3:44.752 +10.040 15
16 LMP2 25 Ray Mallock Ltd. MG-Lola EX264-Judd 4:28.869 3:46.205 +11.490 16
17 GT1 58 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin DBR9 4:31.022 3:48.576 +13.861 17
18 LMP2 34 Miracle Motorsports Courage C65-AER 4:12.754 3:48.819 +14.104 18
19 LMP2 30 Kruse Motorsport Courage C65-Judd 4:31.127 3:49.267 +14.552 19
20 GT1 57 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin DBR9 4:22.600 3:49.739 +15.024 20
21 LMP2 33 Cirtek Motorsport Courage C65-AER 4:29.217 3:51.844 +17.129 21
22 GT1 64 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R 4:36.209 3:52.426 +17.711 22
23 LMP2 31 Noël del Bello Racing Courage C65-CG-Mecachrome 4:21.562 3:53.051 +18.336 23
24 LMP2 36 Paul Belmondo Racing Courage C65-Ford AER 4:27.268 3:53.376 +18.661 24
25 GT1 61 Russian Age Racing Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello 4:23.885 3:55.309 +20.594 25
26 LMP2 39 Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport Lola B05/40-AER 4:51.514 3:55.531 +20.816 26
27 GT1 63 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R 4:36.309 3:55.914 +21.199 27
28 GT1 50 Larbre Compétition Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello 4:20.688 3:55.983 +21.268 28
29 LMP2 20 Pir Competition Pilbeam MP93-JPX 4:39.059 3:57.612 +21.897 29
30 GT1 51 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello 4:30.973 3:57.676 +21.961 30
31 LMP2 24 Welter Racing WR LMP04 4:42.403 3:59.103 +23.388 31
32 GT1 52 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello 4:24.686 3:59.475 +23.760 32
33 GT2 71 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:32.235 4:05.326 +29.611 33
34 LMP2 23 Welter Racing WR LMP04 4:51.163 4:05.855 +30.140 34
35 GT2 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:44.434 4:06.658 +30.943 35
36 GT2 77 Panoz Motorsports Panoz Esperante GT-LM-Ford Élan 4:32.904 4:07.027 +31.312 36
37 GT2 76 IMSA Performance Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:25.598 4:07.349 +31.634 37
38 GT1 69 JMB Racing Ferrari 575-GTC 4:33.600 4:07.654 +31.939 38
39 GT2 78 Panoz Motorsports Panoz Esperante GT-LM-Ford Élan 5:07.955 4:09.262 +33.547 39
40 GT2 90 White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:33.107 4:11.105 +35.390 40
41 GT2 91 T2M Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:47.922 4:12.144 +36.429 41
42 GT2 72 Luc Alphand Aventures Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:41.065 4:12.258 +36.543 42
43 GT2 93 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 360 Modena GTC 4:28.724 4:13.237 +37.522 43
44 GT2 89 Sebah Automotive Ltd. Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:43.150 4:16.930 +41.215 44
45 GT2 92 Cirtek Motorsport Ferrari 360 Modena GTC 4:53.019 4:20.873 +45.158 45
46 GT2 95 Racesport Peninsula TVR TVR Tuscan T400R 4:48.379 4:22.310 +46.595 46
47 GT2 83 Seikel Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 4:49.404 4:24.068 +48.351 47
48 LMP2 35 G-Force Racing Courage C65-Judd 4:31.453 No time +55.738 481
49 GT2 85 Spyker Squadron Spyker C8 Spyder GT2-R-Audi 4:36.539 4:32.043 +56.327 49
Sources:[37][38]

Notes:

  • ^1 — The No. 35 G-Force Racing entry was granted dispensation to start the race after failing to qualify within 115 per cent of the fastest LMP2 car.[36]

Warm-up[edit]

The drivers took to the track at 09:00 Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00) for a 45-minute warm-up session to check car functionality in clear and warm weather.[12][39] The No. 16 Pescarolo car of Boullion was fastest with a lap of 3 minutes, 37.042 seconds. Champion were second and third with the No. 3 R8 of Kristensen and Frank Biela's No. 2 car. Sébastien Loeb was fourth in the No. 17 Pescarolo car and Jamie Campbell-Walter's No. 7 Creation Autosportif DBA vehicle was fifth. The fastest LMP2 lap was a 3 minutes, 49.477 seconds from the No. 32 Intersport Lola car of Liz Halliday. Bennett's No. 30 Kruse Courage car was second in class. David Brabham in the No. 59 Aston Martin was quickest in LMGT1 and Lieb's No. 71 Alex Job Porsche led in LMGT2.[40] The No. 8 Rollcentre Dallara emitted smoke from its left-hand exhaust system and the team changed engines. A major oversteer caused Dumas to lose control of the No. 76 IMSA Performance car and damage its front-right corner against a barrier leaving the Indianapolis turn.[41]

Race[edit]

Start and opening hours[edit]

The weather at the start was dry and clear with an air temperature of 32 °C (90 °F).[42] Approximately 230,000 people attended the race.[43] The French tricolour was waved by Martin Winterkorn, the president of Audi, at 16:00 local time to start the race.[2] Boullion, the pole sitter, led the field.[44] Forty-nine cars planned to take the start but Paul Belmondo's Courage, Bouvet's Gerald Welter WR, the Rollcentre Dallara and the Chamberlain-Synergy Lola vehicles started from the pit lane because they had technical problems.[44] Boullion maintained the lead from his teammate Ayari for the first three laps as the pair pulled away from the rest of the field.[42] Michigami's Jim Gainer Dome car passed Emanuele Pirro around the inside for third entering the Dunlop chicane. Auberlen took the lead of LMGT2 from Rockenfeller on the third lap.[44] Gear selection problems forced the No. 25 Ray Mallock Lola car to the garage and Michigami lost a lap due to a minor paddle shift issue. Towards the close of the first hour the LMGT1-class-leading No. 59 Aston Martin of Turner incurred two stop-and-go penalties for driving across a white line denoting the track boundaries at the Ford Chicane, dropping the car to third.[42]

Mechanical attrition affected several cars in the second hour. Liddell's Panoz vehicle required repairs to a loose undertray, promoting Lieb's Alex Job car to the lead of LMGT2. A left-rear puncture on Gavin's No. 64 Corvette caused by a lack of pressure on the Mulsanne Straight slowed him to 60 mph (97 km/h) and he returned to the pit lane for a replacement wheel. A further delay caused by a water leak delayed Gavin and he fell to third in category.[45] Stefan Eriksson had an anxious moment in the No. 92 Cirtek Ferrari with a spin just before the Ford Chicanes, causing several drivers to scramble for space to avoid hitting his car.[42][45] Not long after, Patrick Bourdais was caught off guard as Ayari lapped his No. 78 Panoz car at Arnage corner, causing Bourdais and Ayari to collide. Bourdais pirouetted into a gravel trap, making minor contact with a tyre barrier.[45] Ayari sustained steering and front bodywork damage to the No. 17 Pesarolo and he drove the car to the garage. Repairs took four minutes and it fell to sixth place with Éric Hélary relieving Ayari.[46]

Enge's No. 58 Aston Martin was elevated into the top ten,[42] when Campbell-Walter had a broken mechanical connection between the No. 7 DBA-Judd's paddle shift and gearbox. Subsequent high water temperatures that took 25 minutes to rectify, dropping the car down the race order.[47] LMP2 was led by Kruse' Courage C65 vehicle of Ian Mitchell, which passed Hancock's Intersport Lola entry and battled the No. 37 Paul Belmondo car. The Petersen Porsche later passed Lieb's Alex Job car to take the lead of LMGT2.[42] Approaching the 2-hour and 30-minute mark, the No. 64 Corvette of Beretta sustained a second rear-left puncture and entered the pit lane for another change of tyres.[48] Shortly after, Comas in the No. 16 Pescarolo ceded the race lead to the No. 2 Audi of Pirro as a gear selection fault required a visit to the garage, dropping the car to fifth. It lost further positions as the problem persisted leaving the first Mulsanne chicane with Collard in the car.[49]

At the conclusion of the second hour, the Chamberlain-Synergy Lola began leaking oil, necessitating the ACO to deploy three safety cars for 15 minutes as marshals scattered cement dust to dry the spilled oil.[42][50] As the safety cars were recalled, Pirro locked his cold tyres heavily on the run to Arnage corner, making contact with a tyre barrier with the left-front corner of the No. 2 Audi. Marshals recovered the car and Pirro drove slowly to the pit lane for repairs to its bodywork. The No. 2 Audi rejoined in fifth position and Marco Werner assumed the race lead and the Team Oreca car of Stéphane Ortelli moved into second.[50][51] A left-rear puncture on the No. 16 Pescarolo C60 car midway through the lap required Hélary to make a pit stop to mend bodywork damage. The vehicle rejoined the race in seventh position after a ten-minute pit stop.[50] The recovering No. 18 Rollcentre Dallara car of Krumm, which had a misfiring engine that was cured, was forced to enter the pit lane to repair a broken power steering pump that required a replenishing of fluid.[51]

Night[edit]

As night fell, the lead of LMGT1 changed to the No. 63 Corvette of Max Papis as Lamy made a pit stop to switch control of the No. 58 Aston Martin with his co-driver Peter Kox. The No. 13 Courage C60H of Bruce Jouanny sustained a major rear left puncture on the approach from Mulsanne corner to Indianapolis turn, removing the car's rear wing and bodywork, necessitating its retirement in the garage.[51] The incident briefly delayed Ortelli, who drove into a gravel trap at the Dunlop Esses after striking debris from Jouanny's car but he avoided a collision with the barriers beside the track. A suspension problem on the Team Oreca Audi of Jean-Marc Gounon dropped it to sixth overall, promoting Biela's No. 2 Champion vehicle to second. Gounon returned to fourth by passing Vanina Ickx's No. 18 Rollcentre Dallara and Jan Lammers' No. 10 Racing for Holland Dome cars. In the meantime, Alex Job driver Rockenfeller retook the lead of LMGT2 from White Lighting.[52] The No. 63 Corvette of Ron Fellows was overtaken by Kox's No. 59 Aston Martin for the lead of the LMGT1 category going into the first Mulsanne chicane in the seventh hour and Kox began to pull away from the rest of the class field.[53][54]

Not long after, Donny Crevels' No. 85 Spyker C8 caught fire at its right rear due to a broken oil line spraying oil on its warm exhaust pipe. He retired after a high speed spin into a gravel trap at Indianapolis corner.[55] The safety cars were required for a second time to allow marshals to work for 24 minutes to dry the spilled oil with cement dust. The No. 34 Miracle Courage shed its left-rear wheel at the exit of the pit lane during the safety car period and the vehicle coasted backwards down a small hill and re-entered the pit lane.[53][54] This led to the disqualification of the No. 34 Courage car from the race for "reversing back on track".[54] Turner subsequently incurred a third time penalty for overtaking another car under yellow flag conditions; the gap between the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Lieb and Timo Bernhard's White Lighting car in the first two positions in LMGT2 was 14 seconds.[53][54] At midnight, Ayari's No. 17 Pescarolo C60 and Bobby Verdon-Roe's No. 8 Rollcentre Dallara cars made contact at the first Mulsanne chicane, dropping Ayari to 14th while his car was repaired.[56]

Halliday and later Gregor Fisken twice brought the No. 32 Intersport Lola car from the LMP2 lead straight to the pit lane with a fuel injector problem. The team lost 15 minutes and the category lead to the No. 37 Paul Belmondo Courage car.[57][58] Boullion's No. 16 Pescarolo C60 vehicle was elevated to fourth when driver John Bosch entered the pit lane for debris removal from the Racing for Holland Dome's car sidepod and radiator.[58] Fuel injector problems on the LMP2-category-leading No. 37 Paul Belmondo Courage forced Andre to drive the car into the garage where its fuel pump and filters were replaced,[59] as the No. 32 Intersport Lola vehicle was retired with a broken engine valve.[60] Andre lost his two-lap lead to the sister No. 36 car of Karim Ojjeh and later Adam Sharpe. Approaching the mid-point in the race, Werner's No. 3 Audi led his Champion teammate McNish by a lap after the No. 2 car made an unscheduled stop to replace a slow puncture. Comas returned to third when the No. 5 Jim Gainer Dome car had its engine control unit changed and fell to fourth.[61]

Morning to early afternoon[edit]

In the early morning, a fast pace from McNish lowered Kristensen's overall lead to less than a minute.[62] Gounon lost control of the Team Oreca R8 and narrowly avoided a collision with Kristensen at the Ford Chicane after he missed his braking point.[63] Soon after, a tyre delamination put the right-front corner of McNish's Audi into a tyre barrier at Indianapolis and it was beached in a gravel trap. He returned to the circuit after marshals recovered the Audi from the gravel but McNish drove straight to the garage. Repairs to the Audi's front-right suspension and rear bodywork took 18 minutes to complete. Boullion in the No. 17 Pescarolo car was promoted to second as the No. 2 Audi now driven by Biela emerged in third position.[64] The No. 91 T2M Motorsport Porsche of Xavier Pompidou had a heavy accident with a tree at 190 km/h (120 mph) at Indianapolis corner after its left-rear wheel bearing failed before his braking point, forcing its retirement. Pompidou was unhurt because the brunt of the impact damaged the car's right-hand corner; he was transported from the circuit via a medical vehicle for a precautionary check-up.[65] Kristsensen had an anxious moment when he selected a gear too early in the No. 3 Audi and ran wide onto the grass at the second Mulsanne chicane; he retained the overall lead from the faster Pescarolo of Boullion.[66] Paul Belmondo Racing's No. 36 Courage vehicle relinquished its four-lap lead in the LMP2 category to the No. 25 Ray Mallock Lola car of Erdos because an overheating problem forced it into the garage.[66][67]

Campbell-Walter locked his front-left tyre on gravel and oil scattered across the track at the first Mulsanne chicane and had an accident against a tyre barrier. He drove the No. 13 Creation Autosportif DBA-Judd car to the garage for a replacement splitter, bodywork and a new brake disc and rejoined the race in 20th position after 1 hour, 10 minutes.[68] After going off the track and onto an escape road at Indianapolis corner, Loeb brought the No. 16 Pescarolo into the pit lane for a three-minute stop to remove debris from the car's air intakes and bodywork.[66] The No. 25 Ray Mallock MG-Lola relinquished the lead of LMP2 to Andre in the No. 37 Paul Belmondo Courage vehicle due to a broken layshaft bearing that forced the car to enter the garage for ¾ of an hour, dropping it to third in the category.[66][69] Soon after, Enge's No. 58 Aston Martin sustained damage to its front splitter. The car lost the lead of LMGT1 to the No. 64 Corvette of Beretta after a five-minute pit stop to repair the damage. Stéphane Sarrazin's No. 59 Aston Martin also passed his teammate Enge for second place in category; though he sustained a left-rear puncture, his pit stop did not lose him second in LMGT1.[70][71]

In the 19th hour, Ayari in fifth place picked up a rear puncture on a bump at the first Mulsanne chicane.[71] He spun through 90 degrees into a tyre wall,[71] damaging the No. 17 Pescarolo car's rear wing, steering and suspension, as well as loosening its bodywork. Ayari slowed for almost an entire lap to enter the garage. Pescarolo were unable to repair the damage after half an hour and retired the car. The No. 17's retirement elevated John Stack's No. 9 Jota Zytek car to fifth overall.[72] The Zytek car maintained the position until Hignett understeered across a gravel trap at Indianapolis corner and he crashed into a tyre barrier. Marshals freed Hignett from the barrier and the car returned to the track in eighth overall. The attrition rate amongst LMP1 cars promoted the LMGT1-class leading No. 64 Corvette to fifth overall.[73] In the meantime, a right-rear suspension failure on the No. 25 Ray Mallock MG-Lola car of Erdos sent him gyrating into a gravel trap at the Ford Chicane. Erdos was able to drive the car to the pit lane for repairs.[69][74] With 90 minutes to go, the No. 59 Aston Martin entered the garage to have a water leak in its radiator rectified and Enge's No. 58 car was retired after it ran out of fuel on track.[74] Soon after, the No. 16 Pescarolo began to fall off the race pace after Boullion made an unscheduled visit to the garage to have debris removed from the radiator. The debris was the result of the opening of duct grilles to prevent the car from overheating.[73]

Finish[edit]

Tom Kristensen (pictured in 2006) took over from Jacky Ickx as the driver with the most overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Unchallenged since the third hour of the race,[75] Kristensen took the chequered flag for the No. 3 Audi in a time of 24:01:30.901 at an average speed of 210.216 km/h (130.622 mph),[76] two laps ahead of the No. 16 Pescarolo car of Boullion.[74] The No. 2 Champion car was a further four laps behind to complete the podium in third place. The last of the Audi cars was the Team Oreca in fourth, another two laps behind.[77] It was Werner's first Le Mans victory, Lehto's second and Kristensen's seventh.[78] Kristensen eclipsed Jacky Ickx's all-time record of six overall Le Mans wins,[79] and Werner completed the Triple Crown of Endurance Racing (overall wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans).[80] It was also Audi's fifth overall victory and the last for the R8.[77] The No. 64 Corvette maintained its two-lap advantage at the front of the LMGT1 field over the No. 63 car, earning the team their fourth class win. Aston Martin's No. 59 DBR9 completed the category podium in third.[81] Alex Job, unchallenged since the fifth hour of the race, were victorious in the LMGT2 category, two minutes ahead of White Lightning's No. 90 Porsche and seven laps in front of Flying Lizard's No. 80 entry. The battle for the win in the LMP2 class continued into the final hour, as the Ray Mallock Lola car overtook the two Paul Belmondo Courage vehicles after they had mechanical problems with 45 minutes remaining.[82]

Race classification[edit]

The minimum number of laps for classification (75% of the overall winning car's race distance) was 277 laps. Class winners are denoted with bold.

Pos Class No. Team Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps Time/Retired
Engine
1 LMP1 3 United States ADT Champion Racing Denmark Tom Kristensen
Finland JJ Lehto
Germany Marco Werner
Audi R8 M 370 24:01:30.901
Audi 3.6L Turbo V8
2 LMP1 16 France Pescarolo Sport France Emmanuel Collard
France Jean-Christophe Boullion
France Érik Comas
Pescarolo C60 Hybrid M 368 +2 Laps
Judd GV5 5.0L V10
3 LMP1 2 United States ADT Champion Racing Germany Frank Biela
United Kingdom Allan McNish
Italy Emanuele Pirro
Audi R8 M 364 +6 Laps
Audi 3.6L Turbo V8
4 LMP1 4 France Audi PlayStation Team Oreca France Franck Montagny
France Jean-Marc Gounon
Monaco Stéphane Ortelli
Audi R8 M 362 +8 Laps
Audi 3.6L Turbo V8
5 GT1 64 United States Corvette Racing United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Denmark Jan Magnussen
Chevrolet Corvette C6.R M 349 +21 Laps
Chevrolet LS7R 7.0L V8
6 GT1 63 United States Corvette Racing Canada Ron Fellows
Italy Max Papis
United States Johnny O'Connell
Chevrolet Corvette C6.R M 347 +23 Laps
Chevrolet LS7R 7.0L V8
7 LMP1 10 Netherlands Racing for Holland Netherlands Jan Lammers
United States Elton Julian
Netherlands John Bosch
Dome S101 D 346 +24 Laps
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
8 LMP1 12 France Courage Compétition Germany Dominik Schwager
Switzerland Alexander Frei
United Kingdom Christian Vann
Courage C60H Y 339 +31 Laps
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
9 GT1 59 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Australia David Brabham
France Stéphane Sarrazin
United Kingdom Darren Turner
Aston Martin DBR9 M 333 +37 Laps
Aston Martin 6.0L V12
10 GT2 71 United States Alex Job Racing
United States BAM! Motorsport
Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Germany Marc Lieb
United States Leo Hindery
Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Y 332 +38 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
11 GT2 90 United States Petersen Motorsports
United States White Lightning Racing
Germany Jörg Bergmeister
United States Patrick Long
Germany Timo Bernhard
Porsche 911 GT3-RSR M 331 +39 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
12 GT1 50 France Larbre Compétition France Patrice Goueslard
France Olivier Dupard
Belgium Vincent Vosse
Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello M 324 +46 Laps
Ferrari F133 5.9L V12
13 GT2 80 United States Flying Lizard Motorsports United States Johannes van Overbeek
United States Lonnie Pechnik
United States Seth Neiman
Porsche 911 GT3-RSR M 323 +47 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
14 LMP1 7 United Kingdom Creation Autosportif Ltd. France Nicolas Minassian
United Kingdom Jamie Campbell-Walter
United Kingdom Andy Wallace
DBA 03S M 322 +48 Laps
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
15 GT2 76 France IMSA Performance France Raymond Narac
France Sébastien Dumez
France Romain Dumas
Porsche 911 GT3-RS M 322 +48 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
16 LMP1 18 United Kingdom Rollcentre Racing United Kingdom Martin Short
Portugal João Barbosa
Belgium Vanina Ickx
Dallara SP1 M 318 +52 Laps
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
17 GT1 61 United Kingdom Cirtek Motorsport
Russia Russian Age Racing
Russia Convers Team
Russia Nikolai Fomenko
Russia Alexey Vasilyev
France Christophe Bouchut
Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello M 315 +55 Laps
Ferrari F133 5.9L V12
18 GT2 72 France Luc Alphand Aventures France Luc Alphand
France Jérôme Policand
France Christopher Campbell
Porsche 911 GT3-RS M 311 +59 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
19 GT2 89 United Kingdom Sebah Automotive Ltd. Denmark Lars-Erik Nielsen
Denmark Thorkild Thyrring
Germany Pierre Ehret
Porsche 911 GT3-RSR D 307 +63 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
20 LMP2 25 United Kingdom Ray Mallock Ltd. (RML) Brazil Thomas Erdos
United Kingdom Mike Newton
United Kingdom Warren Hughes
MG-Lola EX264 M 305 +65 Laps
Judd XV675 3.4L V8
21 LMP2 36 France Paul Belmondo Racing Saudi Arabia Karim A. Ojjeh
France Claude-Yves Gosselin
United Kingdom Adam Sharpe
Courage C65 M 300 +70 Laps
Ford (AER) 2.0L Turbo I4
22 LMP2 37 France Paul Belmondo Racing France Didier André
France Paul Belmondo
United States Rick Sutherland
Courage C65 M 294 +76 Laps
Ford (AER) 2.0L Turbo I4
23 GT2 83 Germany Seikel Motorsport United States Philip Collin
Canada David Shep
Austria Horst Felbermayr
Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Y 274 +96 Laps
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
24 LMP2 30 Germany Kruse Motorsport United Kingdom Tim Mullen
United Kingdom Ian Mitchell
United Kingdom Phil Bennett
Courage C65 P 268 +102 Laps
Judd XV675 3.4L V8
25
NC
LMP1 9 United Kingdom Team Jota
United Kingdom Zytek Engineering Ltd.
United Kingdom Sam Hignett
United Kingdom John Stack
Japan Haruki Kurosawa
Zytek 04S D 325 Not classified
Zytek ZG348 3.4L V8
26
NC
GT2 95 United Kingdom Racesport Peninsula TVR United Kingdom John Hartshorne
United Kingdom Richard Stanton
United Kingdom Piers Johnson
TVR Tuscan T400R D 256 Not classified
TVR Speed Six 4.0L I6
27
NC
LMP2 24 France Rachel Welter Japan Yojiro Terada
France Patrice Roussel
United States William Binnie
WR LMP04 P 233 Not classified
Peugeot 2.0L Turbo I4
28
DNF
GT1 58 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Netherlands Peter Kox
Portugal Pedro Lamy
Czech Republic Tomáš Enge
Aston Martin DBR9 M 327 Fuel system
Aston Martin 6.0L V12
29
DNF
LMP1 17 France Pescarolo Sport France Soheil Ayari
France Éric Hélary
France Sébastien Loeb
Pescarolo C60 Hybrid M 288 Accident damage
Judd GV5 5.0L V10
30
DNF
GT2 92 United Kingdom Cirtek Motorsport
Russia Conversbank
Sweden Stefan Eriksson
United Kingdom Joe Macari
New Zealand Rob Wilson
Ferrari 360 Modena GTC D 218 Wheel
Ferrari F131 3.6L V8
31
DNF
LMP1 5 Japan Jim Gainer International Japan Ryo Michigami
Japan Seiji Ara
Japan Katsutomo Kaneishi
Dome S101Hb D 193 Gearbox
Mugen MF408S 4.0L V8
32
DNF
GT2 78 United States Panoz Motor Sports France Patrick Bourdais
United States Bryan Sellers
United Kingdom Marino Franchitti
Panoz Esperante GT-LM P 185 Drivetrain
Ford (Élan) 5.0L V8
33
DNF
LMP2 35 Belgium G-Force Racing / Bokkenrijders Netherlands Val Hillebrand
Germany Frank Hahn
United Kingdom Gavin Pickering
Courage C65 D 183 Gearbox
Judd XV675 3.4L V8
34
DNF
GT2 91 Japan T2M Motorsport Japan Yutaka Yamagishi
France Xavier Pompidou
France Jean-Luc Blanchemain
Porsche 911 GT3-RS D 183 Accident
Porsche 3.6L Flat-6
35
DNF
LMP1 8 United Kingdom Rollcentre Racing Germany Michael Krumm
United Kingdom Bobby Verdon-Roe
Switzerland Harold Primat
Dallara SP1 M 133 Disqualified/Distance
Nissan 3.6L Turbo V8
36
DNF
LMP2 32 United States Intersport Racing United States Liz Halliday
United Kingdom Sam Hancock
United Kingdom Gregor Fisken
Lola B05/40 G 119 Exhaust
AER P07 2.0L Turbo I4
37
DNF
LMP2 34 United States Miracle Motorsports United States John Macaluso
United Kingdom Ian James
United States Andy Lally
Courage C65 K 115 Disqualified/Reversing
AER P07 2.0L Turbo I4
38
DNF
LMP2 31 France Noël del Bello Racing France Romain Iannetta
Switzerland Christophe Pillon
Portugal Ni Amorim
Courage C65 M 99 Gearbox
CG-Mecachrome 3.4L V8
39
DNF
GT1 69 Monaco JMB Racing France Jean-René De Fournoux
France Stéphane Daoudi
United States Jim Matthews
Ferrari 575-GTC P 84 Engine
Ferrari F133 6.0L V12
40
DNF
GT2 85 Netherlands Spyker Squadron b.v. Netherlands Tom Coronel
Netherlands Peter van Merksteijn
Netherlands Donny Crevels
Spyker C8 Spyder GT2-R D 76 Fire
Audi 3.8L V8
41
DNF
GT2 93 United Kingdom Scuderia Ecosse United Kingdom Andrew Kirkaldy
United Kingdom Nathan Kinch
United Kingdom Anthony Reid
Ferrari 360 Modena GTC P 70 Accident
Ferrari F131 3.6L V8
42
DNF
GT1 51 Italy BMS Scuderia Italia Italy Fabrizio Gollin
Italy Christian Pescatori
Portugal Miguel Ramos
Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello P 67 Accident
Ferrari F133 5.9L V12
43
DNF
GT1 52 Italy BMS Scuderia Italia Italy Michele Bartyan
Italy Matteo Malucelli
Switzerland Toni Seiler
Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello P 60 Accident damage
Ferrari F133 5.9L V12
44
DNF
LMP2 23 France Gerard Welter France Jean-Bernard Bouvet
Canada Robert Julien
France Sylvain Boulay
WR LMP04 P 53 Off course
Peugeot ES9J4S 3.4L V6
45
DNF
LMP1 13 France Courage Compétition France Jonathan Cochet
Japan Shinji Nakano
France Bruce Jouanny
Courage C60H Y 52 Accident
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
46
DNF
LMP2 20 France Pir Competition France Pierre Bruneau
France Marc Rostan
France Philippe Haezebrouck
Pilbeam MP93 M 32 Clutch
JPX 3.4L V6
47
DNF
LMP2 39 United Kingdom Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport United Kingdom Bob Berridge
United Kingdom Gareth Evans
United Kingdom Peter Owen
Lola B05/40 D 30 Gearbox
AER P07 2.0L Turbo I4
48
DNF
LMP2 33 United States Intersport Racing
United Kingdom Cirtek Motorsport
Denmark Juan Barazi
Russia Sergey Zlobin
France Bastien Brière
Courage C65 M 30 Suspension
AER P07 2.0L Turbo I4
49
DNF
GT2 77 United States Panoz Motor Sports United States Bill Auberlen
United Kingdom Robin Liddell
Canada Scott Maxwell
Panoz Esperante GT-LM P 27 Engine
Ford (Élan) 5.0L V8
Source:[76][83]

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