LE MANS 24 HOURS 2001

Author: ArchitectPage

16th - 17th June

Pre-Race

June 14 Thursday: Rinaldo Capello in Audi No. 2 gained pole position for Saturday's race, from Tom Kristensen in Audi No.1 American Champion Racing Audi No.3 was third fastest.

Race

The 2001 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 69th Grand Prix of Endurance

On recommendation of the FIA following the incidents involving the Mercedes-Benz CLRs in 1999, the large hill on the third section of the Mulsanne straight was lowered in order to decrease the likeliness of cars becoming aerodynamically unstable in that area.

MG race

AFTER ONE HOUR

Weather: Inclement weather experienced at Indianapolis, Mulsanne Corner and pit straight. Sunshine and showers gave varying track conditions for racing.
Forecast overnight temperature: 10 degrees Celsius
Overall positions after one hour
MG Lola EX257 Car 33 7th
MG Lola EX257 Car 34 37th
MG Lola EX257, Car 33
Mark Blundell was posting impressive lap times of 3 minutes 45 seconds. He dodged many of the traps on the circuit, providing an extremely encouraging performance. Inclement weather hampered his position. He returned to the pit for wet tyres early in the race and again later for slicks.
MG Lola EX257, Car 34
Anthony Reid spun, clipped the barrier and pitted for a new rear wing and wet tyres. Many other cars collided in the inclement weather. Anthony then developed a puncture on the right front and as a result was forced to pit again and switched to slicks.
Kevin McGarrity, waiting to drive Car 33 said: "It’s fantastic and a real buzz. It’s a very odd race, you know, standing in the garage. This is the strangest thing I’ve ever done. But the excitement of the race so far has been the rain and the crash. I’m really enjoying it and the car is going very well. We’re making up places and I can’t wait to have a go!"
Warren Hughes, waiting to drive Car 34 said: "I’m anxious and ready to go, but I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get in the car following the couple of incidents experienced on the circuit."
"I’m just chomping on the bit - I feel like I’m in the race!"
AFTER TWO HOURS
Time: 6pm
Weather: Incredibly changeable. Flashes of lightning, thunder and heavy rain experienced at the Ford Chicane. Heavy rain experienced throughout the circuit.
Current temperature: 19° C
Forecast temperature overnight: 10° C
Overall positions after two hours:
MG Lola EX257 Car 33 14th
MG Lola EX257 Car 34 40th
MG Lola EX257, Car 33
Mark Blundell: "That’s the longest time the car has run in one go with the mileage we’ve accumulated – so we’re starting to find things out."
"Le Mans is at its best – it throws everything at you! You’d not want to go these five minutes every day in your life! Our performance so far gives us something to cheer about."
MG Lola EX257, Car 34:
Anthony Reid: Having stepped out of the MG Lola EX257 : "You cannot believe what it was like. It’s my fourth appearance here and I’ve never had an experience like it! Up to this point we’d made a really good start and overtaken a few cars and the car was performing fantastically well. The MG Lola race chassis is so good. But then the heavens just opened and I survived the immediate incident where cars were crashing left, right and centre. I slowed up, coasting – hardly accelerating. But following a car in front, the car suddenly aquaplaned, throwing me sideways and then it was the other way. I spun around. The rear wing kissed the barrier. I kept it going but we lost a lap or two, replacing the rear wing.
"I then had more dramas as the track dried. I pitted for slicks and then I had a puncture – unbelievable!"
"Then Mark (in car 33) and I circulated together - at great pace with both cars performing well. Then I lost power from the engine – and we had a broken right hand exhaust pipe – which on a turbo-charged engine is crucial for power. That’s the state of play – I’ve described just two hours of what seems like the whole 24 hour race!"
AFTER THREE HOURS
Time: 7pm
Weather: Torrential rain throughout the Le Mans circuit. Changeable wet
weather throughout the weekend.
Current temperature: 19° C
Forecast temperature overnight: 10° C

Overall positions after two hours:
MG Lola EX257 Car 33 11th
MG Lola EX257 Car 34 43rd

Torrential rain started 15 minutes before the end of the three-hour period.
Soon after Julian Bailey pitted and Kevin McGarrity - a Le Mans virgin - took over.
MG Lola EX257, Car 34
Car 34 was still having its exhaust replaced as per the last release.
MG Lola EX257, Car 33
Julian Bailey said: "I really enjoyed it. It was my first proper run in the car. It's crazy out there in these conditions - it's going to be a real experience for Kevin (McGarrity)."
AFTER SIX HOURS
Time: 10pm
Weather: Torrential rain is causing a great deal of aquaplaning on the circuit, worst areas hit: Porsche Curves and Mulsanne Corner.
MG Lola EX257 Car 33 8th position 1st in LMP 675 class
MG Lola EX257, Car 33
Mark Blundell: "Conditions are really poor out there - there is a lot of aquaplaning, a lot of surface water but after all the really heavy rain we were extremely competitive. So at this point, I'm sitting it out while we fix a small technical problem. Once they fix it we'll go back out." Frank Dernie, chief engineer Lola Cars International: "Unfortunately Mark is the only guy who knows where all the puddles are - so it would be mad for anyone other than Mark to go back out at this stage."
"We've got a problem with water in the electrics and we've also had a problem with the starter motor. We could be stopped for a little while."
AFTER EIGHT HOURS
Time: Midnight
Weather: Monsoonal rain, effecting all areas of the circuit.
MG Lola EX257 Car 33 29th position 2nd in LMP 675 class

MG Lola EX257, Car 33
Frank Dernie, chief engineer Lola Cars International: "The rear lights went out - and we were actually asked to fix them by the officials, so we had to bring the car in."
"It looks like we had some water in the fuse box, so it looks like we have a few problems with water proofing the eletrics."
AFTER TEN HOURS
Time: 2am
Weather: Clear sky and windy. The circuit is drying.
MG Lola EX257 Car 33 28th 3rd in LMP 675 class
MG Lola EX257, Car 33
Frank Dernie, chief engineer Lola Cars International: "Just after the driver change, when Kevin McGarrity took over from Julian Bailey, we found an oil leak which we are investigating and repairing."
MG LOLA EX257 SPORTS CAR RETIRES
Time: 4.35am
Frank Dernie, chief engineer, Lola Cars International: "We fixed the oil leak and Kevin (McGarrity) went back out. The leak caused a number of stresses and strains which saw the temperature rise rapidly - so we called him in as it was running a bit too hot." Kevin McGarrity: "It's a little disappointing, everyone's worked so hard. We've done extremely well to race for this long. So what we are going to do is go testing and come back again with a vengeance. It's been fantastic. I wish I didn't have to wait another year to come back." Rob Oldaker, managing director, MG Sport & Racing Limited: "We are immensely proud to have brought MG back to Le Mans and frankly it has been beyond our expectations to have been running as high as third and to have completed more than half the race time!" "This has always been our learning year and now we are confident that we will have the right package to make MG even more successful next year." "I'd like to thank everyone on our team and also the thousands of people who have supported us here and at home."

Race Summary

4pm: Shortly after the rolling start of the Le Mans 24-hour race with Laurent Aiello (No.2) Infineon Audi R8 in front of Frank Biela in the (No.1) car.

There was heavy rain during the early stages of the race. A Bentley Exp8 led in the first hour. Right: A Champion Racing Audi R8 in the wet; it retired about 10.30pm with a clutch problem.

4am: After twelve hours, Audi R8s were one and two with the No.8 Bentley in third place.

8am: That was still the order with eight hours to go. Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro in #1 led Laurent Aiello, Rinaldo Capello and Christian Pescatori in No.2 (right, in the pits) by three laps. 28 cars, out of 48 starters, remained in the race.
10am: Top six of 24 running, Audi No.1, Audi No.2, Bentley No.8, Chrysler 5999A No.16 (Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger, Pedro Lamy), Courage Peugeot 3200T No.17 (Sebastien Bourdais, Jean-Christophe Boullion, Laurent Redon), Corvette C5R 6991A No.63 (Ron Fellows, Scott Pruett, Johnny O'Connell).

4pm: 1st Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro, Audi No.1 321 laps, 2nd Laurent Aiello, Rinaldo Capello, Christian Pescatori, Audi No.2 (-1 lap), 3rd Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger, Eric van de Poele, Bentley No08 (-15 laps), 4th Beretta, Wendlinger, Lamy, Chrysler (-23 laps), 5th Deletraz, Fabre, Gene, Reynard-VW (-37 laps), 6th Rosa, Babini, Drudi, Porsche (-38 laps),

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