The Le Mans 24 Hours has been robbed of a dramatic finish after the No. 1 Peugeot dropped out of the race with just over two hours to go, effectively handing an unexpected potential 1-2-3 podium sweep to Audi.
Alex Wurz, running in third position, had just unlapped himself to put Peugeot back on the lead lap when a big puff of smoke out of the right bank of the turbo-diesel signaled the end of the French manufacturer's challenge on the run down to Indianapolis.
So, what had looked like becoming a fantastically intense pursuit for victory turned into poignant scenes as an overcome Peugeot Motorsport chief Olivier Quesnel was comforted by ORECA boss Hughes de Chaunac on the pitwall.
The demise of the No. 1 car means that Mike Rockenfeller, in the No. 9 Audi, now has a lap advantage over teammate Andre Lotterer in the No. 8 R15. Tom Kristensen, in the No. 7 car – which was delayed yesterday afternoon when it went off lapping Andy Priaulx's BMW – has now risen back up to third two laps off the lead.
The ORECA Peugeot, with Loic Duval at the wheel, is now the last remaining French turbo-diesel in the race. The Frenchman has clearly been given instructions to push on in an attempt to get a 908 on the podium and ended the hour only two minutes behind the Dane.
All this drama has promoted Darren Turner to fifth in the No. 009 Aston Martin. The top gasoline-engined machine has run like a train through the night and is now 14 laps clear of the ORECA Aim in sixth position.
Danny Watts now holds seventh place overall, as well as a six-lap lead in LMP2 ahead of Guillaume Moreau's Pescarolo. The two cars are split on the road by Adrian Fernandez's Aston Martin.
The Highcroft Acura spent most of the hour in the pits with fluid leaking from the car and has now dropped to 22nd overall.
The status quo remained in GT2 as Marc Lieb maintained a one lap lead over Allan Simonsen's Ferrari while the Larbre Saleen remained on course for GT1 honors.