H23: Peugeot in front, drama at the back
There was drama in the final 10 minutes of the penultimate chapter in the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours when the second placed LMP2 Navi Team Goh Porsche crashed heavily at the first chicane, with former winner Seiji Ara at the wheel.
As Marc Gene continued serenely on at the front of the field seemingly en route to Peugeot's long sought diesel victory, Ara's RS Spyder snapped left under braking for the chicane, clouted the barrier and careened through the tire retainers. The Japanese driver emerged unscathed from the steaming wreck, but as he did so the Kruse Schiller Lola retired from sixth place in class when it caught fire at the entrance to the pitlane.
Up at the front, Gene maintained the gap to teammate Sebastien Bourdais as the two 908s have long since opted to run in formation to ensure they complete the race.
Tom Kristensen has taken over the wheel of the Audi R15 TDI, which is now seven laps down on the leader, but remains two laps ahead of Tomas Enge's Aston Martin Lola.
Soheil Ayari's fifth place seems safe, with Nicolas Minassian having to find nearly two minutes in the last hour -- depending on how long the Ara-prompted safety car period lasts.
Emmanuel Collard seems to have locked up the LMP2 victory following Ara's demise, but Johnny Kane could yet pick up second place for the Speedy Lola.
Antonio Garcia leads GT1 for Corvette as the ultra-successful C6.R enters the last hour of illustrious career at Le Mans. Julien Jousse is running second in Luc Alphand's privately entered C6.R.
Jaime Melo enjoys a two-lap lead in the GT2 class for Risi with his nearest rival, Fabio Babini two laps behind in the BMS Ferrari. Tracy Krohn is third in another 360.