81st 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Live BlogS

This is it. 90 years after the first, the 81st 24 Hours of Le Mans is ready to begin. Follow along with your all-inclusive live blog here.

(Refresh to see new posts at the top. All posts with just a timestamp are written by me, Fred "Porsche9146" Smith, while posts with initials are written by guests. All times are in relation to the start of the race, which is 6:00 AM PST, 9:00 AM EST and 3:00 PM Le Mans local time. The massive pre-race guide written by myself and five much more talented people is here. Porsche9146 had to step away early on, at which point Nobody and AxelRipper stepped in to cover the majority of the blog, but he has returned for the final stint)

(Ed note: We hit the character limit, the rest is here)

23:41 - The heavy rain is coming again soon. Buemi is now in a position where he can win if Kristensen has a big off when the rain falls, but that's likely the only way...

23:37 - While SPEED was under commercial, Sebastian Buemi unlapped the #8 Toyota and put a Toyota on the lead lap for the first time in about 12 hours. Suddenly, the once decided fight for the overall win is the most hotly contested podium spot in any of the four classes!

23:35 - Looks like all the podium positions save the last spots in LMP2 and GTE-Am may be decided, but there's a great battle for 4th going on in GTE-Pro! The #73 Corvette leads the #71 Ferrari and #74 Corvette.

23:30 - Finally, the pace car is in! Green Flag is out with 30 minutes to play in the 81st 24 Hours of Le Mans!

23:28 - Nevermind...

23:25 - We appear to be under Safety Car to finish breaking in the engine on the Audi pace car. Fortunately, safety cars will be in this lap.

23:21 - The #7 has been fully repaired and rejoins. Yes, this safety car was long enough to build a new TS030. Worth noting here that the car should be retired because Lapierre walked away. That will be a big deal post-race...

23:18 - Another long caution, but this time there's no excuse of barrier repairs. This is just taking a long, long time to go back to green...

23:01 - It turns out that the #97 went onto slicks, not intermediates! Meanwhile, the #92 just went from slicks, having not yet changed tires, to wets!

23:00 - Hour 23 Update

Well, things are a bit different now...

LMP1's still lead by the #2, but that's the only thing that remains the same! The #7 had a huge off at the Mulsanne corner, leading to the destruction of the Toyota's nose and the falling from second to, at best, fourth. The race for third, between the #8 Toyota and #3 Audi and now being lead by the #8 Toyota, is now the race for second.

LMP2 saw a spinning leader in the rain, but the OAK Racing #35 carried on and retains the lead. The #24 and #26 still make up the remainder of the podium.

GTE-Pro saw Aston Martin #97 take the lead, then take tires and lose the lead, then almost take the lead again, then have a huge issue in the pits and fall behind the leading Porsche. #92, #97 and #91 now the order.

GTE-Am saw no change. For once.

22:54 - Porsche splits their strategy and takes the same risk on the #91 that Aston Martin took on the #97, taking the treadless intermediates and hoping for a long safety car. This probably won't be a race winning move for them since they're already behind the #97, but it helps them cover their bases. The #92 remains on full wets in the lead.

22:51 - Lapierre gets back in the car that should technically be retired and drives it back to the pits despite the major damage. Considering what the #3 Audi went through last year, it's almost certainly repairable. Twice.

22:50 - Aston Martin #97 will fall behind the second safety car no matter what, so they're taking their time on repairs and now taking a crazy risk! #97 switches to treadless inters!

22:48 - And now Aston Martin has a big problem in the pits, immediately after almost taking the lead! Issues in the pit could cost them the win! Looks like the floor is loose on the RF corner!

22:47 - TDS by Thiriet and OAK Racing spin somewhere on the run up to Arnage. Safety Car! The OAK car involved was the LMP2 leader! Fortunately though, the OAK car restarts, while the TDS car wasn't so lucky.

22:46 - Even the #2, which took inters just two laps ago, is in for full wets! This race has changed completely with an hour to go!

22:44 - Here comes the #97, immediately behind the #92 the GTE-Pro lead! The rains are finally here, they aren't just sprinkles any more! time to go to full wets!

22:43 - Lapierre walks too far away from the car and that will probably force a retirement for the #7, which could have most certainly been fixed.

22:42 - Toyota in the wall! it's #7! Lapierre is walking away from the car and this could be a race decider for the #7!

22:41 - The #2 is in for it's final set of tires and second to last stop of the race. Looks like they might have gone onto the treadless intermediates. Here comes the rain...

22:39 - The #92 and #97 are in the same camera shot now! This is the battle of the race for sure!

22:36 - Just 3 seconds between the GTE-Pro leaders now...

22:33 - The #71 AF Corse entry goes off exactly where the #51 did an hour ago, to the point that it looked like a replay. Vilander is behind the wheel.

22:26 - The #97 Aston Martin comes out of the pits just behind the #92 Porsche for the GTE-Pro lead! Meanwhile, the world feed is still showing an Audi that hasn't had pressure on it for the lead for almost 20 hours now.

22:24 - Porsche #91, black flagged much earlier for a broken tail light, is now behind the wall to replace that rear-left tail light. That car has a three lap gap on fourth place, but needed less than a minute to complete repairs.

22:22 - The #7 Toyota remains almost directly behind the #3 Audi for third, but the #3 is now working together with the #2 and making up time.

22:17 - Two of the three cars in the GTE-Pro fight for the win pit for their final driver change and now Patrick Pilet pilots the #91 Porsche, while Stefan Mucke will anchor the #97 Aston Martin.

22:15 - Patrick Long takes third in GTE-Am, putting Dempsey Del Piero-Proton on that podium in place of the second of the three AF Corse entries in that category.

22:06 - Porsche #92, GTE-Pro leader for most of this race, has had a minor spin in the rain at Tetre Rouge. However, the incompetent world feed director (who, to be fair, is at least consistently incompetent each year) still hasn't shown it, and instead has shown us 4 different shots of the Audi engineers looking tired.

22:03 - Rebellion Racing has reported that their driver Andrea Bellichi has a cracked rib after his shunt in the #13 Lola. His hit was extremely minor (to the point that he drove back to the garage) and just further showcases how horrible the barrier situation is from Tetre Rouge to the Porsche curves. If the ACO doesn't fix it next year, I don't expect a full grid.

22:02 - The lead in GTE-Pro is down to 9 seconds, from 17 seconds at one point.

22:00 - Hour 22 Update

Things are heating up with just two hours to go.

Audi's #2 still has the overall lead well in hand over the #8 Toyota, which has second well in hand over the #3 Audi, but immediately behind that #3 Audi is the #7 Toyota, and that is a very close battle for position.

LMP2 sees little change and is still an OAK 1-2 with G-Drive in third.

GTE-Pro sees a new leader thanks to a long stop for the #91 Porsche, with Aston Martin Racing's #97, the sole remaining healthy car being run by that team, now leading the #91 Porsche by about 12 seconds. The #92 Porsche sits in third.

GTE-Am sees little change, but AF Corse's 55 has again taken third from Dempsey Del Piero-Proton.

21:48 - Two tires off at Indianapolis for Lapierre! The 7 clearly has something for the 3, but he can't do anything about it if he makes mistakes like that.

21:46 - The battle for third, traded during pit cycles multiple times, is now finally taking place on track. Lapierre is directly behind Jarvis now!

21:41 - The #74 Corvette, apparently having heard me saying their race was surprisingly clean today, spins through the gravel in the Ford chicane. Minor gravel down on track.

21:37 - As pit stops cycle through, the #7 Toyota again leads the #3 Audiin the battle for 3rd.

21:34 - Thanks to the issues for the 51, the slow-but-steady Corvette Racing #74 now places 5th in GTE-Pro. This is the cleanest Le mans run that either Corvette has had since the GT1 days, but unfortunately it's also the first year ever in which Corvette Racing hasn't had a competitive pace in the class in which they are competing.

21:32 - SPEED is discussing Mike Conway and his impressive resume as a part time IndyCar driver, and thus his great run today being of no surprise.. What they failed to mention was not only the fact that Conway won one of his three races this year and finished third in another, but that he did so in the literal worst car in the entire IZOD IndyCar Series field. He's a true street circuit expert! Of course, while the Circuit De La Sarthe uses public roads, it's nothing like a traditional street circuit like those on which Conway so excels.

21:30 - Thanks to a long pit stop for the then-leading GTE Porsche, Aston Martin now leads GTE-Pro!

21:29 - Replays show that Malucelli seems to have simply locked it up in the rain and slid into the gravel at Mulsanne.

21:26 - I don't know if it's been mentioned yet, but today's NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Road America was a bit of a wild one. The highlights of the event are that AJ Allmendinger, suspended by NASCAR 50 weeks ago for failing a drug test and soon fired by Penske Racing, won in his first ever race for that team's Nationwide program, that Max Papis slapped someone on the face while their helmet was still on and that Parker Kligerman, who was supposed to be a guest on this very live blog before the complexion of this very live blog changed, took his best career Nationwide Series finish in third, despite being forced off the track by a kind of team mate (they share a PR person but no engineers or data) early on.

21:24 - Matteo Malucelli, a revelation in the shorter ALMS and FIA WEC races for Ferrari earlier in the year, has beached the #51 AF Corse Ferrari in the sand traps at Mulsanne. Glad to see the gravel do it's job so many times there today.

21:22 - Looks like another position change on a class podium, this time in GTE-Am. Dempsey Del Piero-Proton has passed the second GTE-Am AF Corse entry to take third.

21:21 - It's raining again! This time, heavy rain is reported from Mulsanne to Indianapolis.

21:15 - Of course, Audi appears to counter that thought with the thought of "well Tom Kristensen is basically two Sebastian Vettels, isn't he?". The legendary Dane is entering the #2 for what's likely to be the final driver change of the race for the leading car.

21:09 - It's worth noting that about this time last year, today's leading #2 Audi was catching the then leading #1 Audi at a rapid pace, only to hit a Luxury Racing Ferrari and by extent go into the garage for repairs. Even if it looks like a pre-determined conclusion that victory for Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval is a predrawn conclusion, remember that there is three hours of racing left. That's about the time of two GPs.

21:08 - With the #7 Toyota pitting, the #3 Audi has jumped back onto the overall podium in 3rd.

21:06 - Looks like the timestamps got mixed up at some point. Fixing that now.

21:00 - Hour 21 Update

Do you like the words "sees no change"? you'll like this one.

LMP1 sees no change as Audi #2 still leads Toyotas #7 and #8. However, it seems that Audi #3 will take third very soon.

LMP2 holds steady as well, with OAK's 35 leading that team's 1-2 over their #24 entry. G-Drive Racing's Mike Conway holds third.

GTE-Pro, believe it or not, also sees no change, as Porsches numbered 92 and 91 bookend the podium over Aston Martin's sole remaining entry, their art car #97.

GTE-Am sees a change, as AF Corse's #61 takes third from Dempsey Del Piero-Proton's #77, but the class is still lead by the #67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche and second is still held by AF Corse's #55.

"Foundation for a Better Life" ads - 4

20:56 - Posey literally said 3 things. Still the best member of this booth or any other.

20:54 - Sam Posey's in the booth. SPEED's coverage just got 10 times better instantly.

20:41 - #45 behind the wall.

20:39 - #45 (OAK art car) off at the first chicane.

20:15 - I don't know about that, but thank you Mr. Nobody! We've got some drama in the pits as the OAK art car (#45) gets hit by a GTE-Pro AF Corse entry who may not be getting any more fuel any time soon. Yes, the #51 tried to release from the pits with the fueling rig still connected, tearing one of the two hoses, and in the process spun the #45 LMP2 entry!

20:15 (N) - I'm off to get some sleep before the rapidly approaching sunrise. I leave you in the capable and more talented hands of Porsche9146.

20:11 (N) - The Prospeed 911 is off at Indy. I think he's back going.

20:10 (N) - The 97 Aston is now within 4 seconds of the leading 92 Porsche.

Hour 20 Update (N) -

It's still Audi, Toyota Toyota up front.

LMP2 has seen the 26 pass the 42 for 3rd. The top two are still the 35 and 24.

GTE-Pro is still led by the 92 911 from the 97 Aston Martin and the 91 911.

GTE-Am sees no change. 76, 55, 77.

19:59 (N) - The number 13 Rebellion that had to replace the entire front end is about to re-enter the race. Great rebuild by the Rebellion guys.

19:50 (N) - The Sun is out. For how long? Not sure.

19:48 (N) - The 97 Aston Martin is now within 8 seconds of the leading 911 in GTE-Pro.

19:39 (N) - The track is still quite slippery, and grip is not consistent across the entire track.

19:35 (N) - Kaz Nakajima in the 7 Toyota has spun at the Dunlop Chicane. He rejoins, but may have damaged things.

19:33 (N) - Dempsey Del Piero report rain at Arnage. It might be the last shower moving away from the circuit.

19:28 (N) - Green Flag - Two Audis lead the field on the front straight.

19:27 (N) - Audi's not waiting for the SC message. McNish pits for a full service driver change and switch to slicks. Duval now heads out.

19:24 (N) - The #2 Audi may have lucked into a solution to its full wet problem. McNish's safety lives on the Mulsanne straight, so when the team hears that the SCs are in this lap, they can call Alan in, and by the time he has new tires, the race will be back green so he doesn't have to wait for the next safety car.

19:22 (N) - The #12 Rebellion, which had been in the garage for 2 hours, has rejoined the race. I'm not sure what it was in for; I've asked Rebellion and am waiting for an answer.

19:17 (N) - It's getting pretty dry, and McNish's wets won't last much longer. The Audi pits seem unfazed; they're betting big on a downpour.

19:13 (N) - By the latest count, there has been 4.5 hours completed under safety car.

19:06 (N) - The Armco repair should last another 30 to 40 minutes.

Hour 19 Update (N) -

Bad news: we're back under safety car. Good news: Mackieowicki's fine.

At the front, McNish still leads the 8 and 7 Toyotas, but the 2 Audi is on full wets. We'll see if that gamble pays off.

LMP2 still goes 35, 24, 42.

GTE-Pro sees a big change, as Mackieowicki crashed out of the lead causing the current safety car. Lieb, Dumbreck, and Bernhard in a 911, Aston, and 911 are all lined up behind the same safety car.

GTE-Am still goes 76, 55, 77.

18:52 (N) - Safety Car #10 - SC for the Aston's wreck. It looks like he hit a white line exiting the first chicane and lost grip.

18:51 (N) - Massive hit for the leading GTE-Pro Aston of Fred Mackieowicki. He's out on his own power and over the Armco to safety.

18:50 (N) - Full wets for the lead #2 Audi. Let's see how good their forecasters are.

18:47 (N) - The rain is starting to catch drivers out at the Ford Chicane. The 71 AF Corse Ferrari leaped like a rallycross driver through the runoff. Watch for cars to pit for inters.

18:45 (N) - Retirement #10 - The 47 KCMG Morgan-Nissan has officially retired. Not sure why yet.

18:44 (N) - It's now raining all over the circuit. If it strengthens, we could see Toyota exploit an advantage.

18:41 (N) - There is rain reported in sector one: Dunlop Curve through Tetre Rouge.

18:40 (N) - There's just 3 seconds between the leading GTE-Pro 911 and the second place Aston.

18:34 (N) - That's a lot of Armco.

18:32 (N) - The 81 8Star GTE-Am 458 just went rallying through the gravel at Mulsanne.

18:29 (N) - Guess what car's on fire again? Trick question. The 33 Level 5 HPD has been taken into the garage with "engine issues." Not sure if that's related to the flame-belching.

18:24 (N) - There's a battle for P3 in LMP2, as Lucas Ordonez in the 42 Zytek is right on the gearbox of Rusinov in the 23 Oreca.

18:16 (N) - Larbre just can't catch a break. The 70 Corvette spun at the Ford Chicane on the restart.

18:15 (N) - Green Flag - The 3 Audi leads the 8 Toyota out onto the front straight. They're still laps apart.

18:09 (N) - The safety cars will be in this lap, so there was not a strike. The 2 Audi pits for a full service driver change. McNish replaces TK.

18:06 (N) - The Armco repair team has left the scene. Whether the repair is complete or they have gone on strike is yet to be confirmed.

Hour 18 Update (N) -

With only 10 or so minutes under green for this hour, you'd think I could literally repost last hour's update, but there was some action in the pits.

At the front, its Audi, Toyota, Toyota, Audi, Audi, Rebellion, Rebellion, Strakka.

LMP2 is now led by the 35 Oak Morgan-Nissan ahead of his teammate in the 24. The 42 Zytek is still in podium position.

GTE-Pro saw a bunch of changes from the two Safety Cars, as Bruno Senna's Aston moved ahead of Timo Bernhard's 911 and Peter Dumbreck's Aston after the lead two pitted.

GTE-Am sees no change. IMSA Matmut from AF Corse from Dempsey Del Piero.

17:54 (N) - Sabine Schmitz has joined the race in her Nurburgring 10 minute van:

17:42 (N) - It looks like Belicchi has damage the suspension mounts, too. The Rebellion boys will need ot completely replace the front end, not just the nose.

17:40 (N) - And there's lots of damage to the Armco again. This could be a while.

17:39 (N) - Safety Car #9 - There's a safety car out for debris after the Rebellion's spin.

17:37 (N) - The 13 Rebellion has had a big shunt on the outside of the second chicane. Belliki lost it trying to lap a Matmut 911.

17:37 (N) - Green Flag - We're back under green now that the Marshals have cleaned up the oil. The top 3 are all behind the same safety car, albeit laps apart.

17:27 (N) - Now that I've said the sky looks angry, RLM comes on and says it's brightening up. No word on how long until the safety cars will come in.

17:24 (N) - The sky is now "angry looking." Rain would make things very interesting, but RLM said there was only a 20% chance.

17:23 (N) - There is light rain reported in the first sector. That, coupled with oil in the second, should keep the drivers on their toes.

17:22 (N) - The 1 Audi is now between the two Rebellion cars. Fassler has two laps to make up until he can pass the 13 Rebellion.

17:20 (N) - Retirement - A tough week for Lotus LMP2 comes to an end as the 32 joins the 31 on the list of retirements.

17:19 (N) - As hard as the marshals are working, the 70 Larbre Corvette in GTE-Am has spun in oil while behind the safety car. He didn't hit anything.

17:18 (N) - A report from our man on the ground in France:

17:16 (N) - After drivers have been jumping the kerbs at the Ford Chicane all race, there is an official warning reminding the drivers to respect track limits. Expect penalties if anyone else does it.

17:15 (N) - Auberlin dropped lots of oil between the two chicanes. The Marshals are out cleaning it up.

17:13 (N) - The 8 Toyota pitted and just missed getting behind a safety car. The next one took 3 minutes to show up, and Sarrazin has lost 1/3 of a lap to the lead #2 Audi.

17:12 (N) - It looks like the 98 Aston will be retired.

17:10 (N) - Bruno Senna is a big winner with the safety car, as he's made up a 2o second gap and is now right on the back of GTE-Pro leader Lietz's 911.

17:08 (N) - The RLM pit reporter is reporting rain.

17:07 (N) - Safety Car #8 - For Mr. Auberlin.

17:07 (N) - Bill Auberlin's #98 Aston Martin has parked just before Mulsanne and is smoking.

17:05 (N) - The 98 Aston Martin is slow out of Mulsanne and on the run up to Indy. He was smoking earlier, but he's run out of things to burn.

Hour 17 Update (N) -

I feel like I could just copy-pasta last hour's update. The top 4 in LMP1 are each separated by a lap, with the lead 2 Audi and the 3 Audi sandwiching the 8 and 7 Toyotas.

LMP2 is still led by the Oak Morgan-Nissan duo, but this time it's the 35 leading the 24 by 25 seconds. The 42 Zytek-Nissan is a lap back from the leading pair.

GTE-Pro goes Aston, Porsche, Aston, Porsche. With the 99, 92, 97, and 91 all being on the same lap.

GTE-Am sees the Dempsey Del Piero 911 rejoin the top 3. The order is 76 IMSA Matmut 911, then 55 AF Corse 458 and 77 Dempsey Del Piero 911, all separated by a lap.

16:44 (N) - Guess what's on fire again? The 33 Level 5 HPD in LMP2! The 1 Audi also just pitted for tires and fuel after a slow puncture.

16:40 (N) - The 45 Oak LMP2 art car has a suspension issue. He's currently the only Oak not in contention for the LMP2 win.

16:33 (N) - Treluyer may have made contact with a Murphy prototype going 3 wide around Tetre Rouge.

16:31 (N) - TK has a full lap on the Toyotas.

16:29 (N) - I'm not paying attention to any weather conditions, but RLM says rain is forecast to come at some point during the rest of the race.

16:27 (N) - Nothing major, but just a note about how much of a toll the race takes on the cars: The Audi has damage on its sidepod, and one of the Toyotas has nose damage.

16:22 (N) - The two Toyotas are running line-astern, but are separated by a lap.

16:13 (N) - The 41 Greaves Zytek sponsored by Caterham has a suspension failure exiting the Ford Chicane; he'll have to do an entire lap before he can get back in the pits.

Hour 16 Update (N) -

No change up front, still 2 Audi from 8 and 7 Toyotas, each separated by a lap.

In LMP2, the 35 and 24 Morgan-Nissan are separated by just 35 seconds. The 42 Zytek-Nissan is many laps down in 3rd place.

GTE-Pro continues to be a do-over of the Battle of Britain, with Bruno Senna's #99 Aston Martin leading the 92 911 by 30 seconds, who leads the 97 Aston by a minute.

GTE-Am looks to be the stablest class for the leader, as the 76 IMSA Matmut 911 leads the 55 AF Corse 458 by a lap. The 55 leads the 61 AF Corse by about a minute.

15:50 (N) - Long driver stints are the order of the race this year. Duval did a stint earlier of 3 hours 55 minutes, and the limit is 4 hours. All of the LMP1 factory drivers are doing 3 or 3.5 hours.

15:42 (N) - It's "properly light" now, but it reveals clouds over the whole circuit.

15:35 (N) - The 32 Lotus LMP2 has beached it at Mulsanne corner and is asking for a tow out.

15:33 (N) - The 70 Larbre GTE-Am Corvette has spun at (appropriately) Corvette Corner. He had to make an Austin-Powers-three-point-turn, but is back going.

15:29 (N) - The GTE-Pro leading 92 911 is about to get new brakepads. Shouldn't take more than three minutes.

15:28 (N) - Coupla theories on the 7 Toyota's pit stop. He might have had a loose belt or a slow puncture. Meanwhile, the 39 LMP2 has spun at Mulsanne corner.

15:25 (N) - The 7 Toyota is about to come in for an unscheduled pit stop. They've got fuel and tires ready to go on and in the car.

15:22 (N) - The remaining Lotus LMP2 has stopped in the pits and is not moving.

15:21 (N) - The 40 Oreca LMP2 has been reported for speeding in the pits. Expect a 30 second stop-hold penalty.

15:16 (N) - Guess which car is spewing flames again? That's right its the 33 Level 5 in LMP2. I set the over/under for future fires for that car as 4.

15:14 (N) - The 75 Prospeed 911 has a rear-right puncture and is in the pits.

15:10 (N) - The 8 Toyota pits for more petrol. Buemi stays in.

Hour 15 Update (N) -

As the sun rises across La Sarthe, the #2 Audi leads the 8 Toyota by about 2:30. The 8 Toyota is a lap back, and the 3 Audi is another lap behind.

In LMP2, it's still the 24 and 35 Morgan-Nissans ahead of the 42 Zytek-Nissan.

GTE-Pro saw some fierce battling for 3rd, but pit stops separated the two somewhat. The 92 911 leads the 99 and 97 Astons with about two minutes between the 3.

GTE-AM continues to not cause issues for the frontrunners. The 76 IMSA Matmut 911 leads the 55 and 61 AF Corse 458s by a lap each.

14:58 (N) - #1 Audi pits from 8th for fuel.

14:56 (N) - 38 Zytek Nissan LMP2 has an issue and is limping around at Tetre Rouge.

14:52 (N) - The sun is starting to come out. Soon it'll start to heat the track, and I expect times to start dropping as the drivers pick up more grip. A few more drivers have straightlined chicanes, but it's probably because their reference points are changing as the light changes.

14:49 (N) - A GT and a prototype just straightlined the first chicane. There could be something on the track, or the two cars ran into each other.

14:45 (N) - Taylor in the 73 Corvette has only 1 light. He'll need to pit to fix it.

14:42 (N) - Of course, as soon as I say that, Pilet in the 91 pits for fuel.

14:41 (N) - There is 0.4 seconds between the third place GTE-Pro 97 Aston Martin and the 4th place 91 911.

14:37 (N) - According to Andre Loetterer, the #1 Audi's goal is to unlap itself from the privateer LMP1 teams.

14:30 (AR) - It is now 5:30 am LeMans time. What they call the Magic Time on track. Sky gets brighter, weather gets that morning feeling to it. Truly the perfect time on track for a driver. For myself however, it is time to hand off control of the blog back to Nobody for a little while.

14:24 (AR) - #2 Audi into pits, standard fluid stop. At the same time, #93 Viper is beached in gravel in Mulsanne Corner.

14:23 (AR) - #1 Audi back on track

14:20 (AR) - #1 Audi in, mechanic rooting around in a hole for a little bit (heh) and then gets rolled into the garage. Unknown issue.

14:13 (AR) - #39 DKR has come in to pits, fixed their rear wing, and headed back out. They promptly almost took out the #8 Toyota. The #88 Porsche did get itself refired and on its way back to pits.

14:06 (AR) - As I'm writing that hour update, the #39 DKR P2 car cuts off the #88 Proton Porsche and the Porsche winds up beached in the gravel coming to the Esses.

14th Hour Update (AR) -

Fatigue setting in everywhere (even here on the interwebs). Track is drying, everyone back out on slicks that I know of.

#2 Audi still leading the #8 and #7 Toyotas. #8 currently 2 minutes back from the Audi. With the weather drying, the conditions are shifting in Audi's advantage. The #1 Audi despite having so many issues earlier and not having a windshield wiper through the last rain event is up to 8th and hunting the Strakka down for not-last in P1.

In P2, the #35 Oak Morgan is leading the #24 Oak Morgan by 10 seconds. The Jota Zytek #38 is a lap behind them.

In GTE-Pro, the #92 Porsche is currently leading the #99 and #97 Astons by just over a minute.

In GTE-Am the #76 IMSA Porsche is leading the #55 and #61 AF Corse Ferraris, followed quite close behind by the Dempsey Del Piero Porsche.

7 Retirements so far.

13:57 (AR) - #21 Strakka P1 is now stuck in the gravel around pit in. Pit entry currently blocked.

13:53 (AR) - #7 Toyota comes in for fuel, slicks, and Alex Wurz.

13:50 (AR) - #8 Toyota pits for slicks. #1 Audi pits, but does not change tires. #3 Audi does take slicks.

13:48 (AR) - Audi #2 has pitted from the lead for full slicks.

13:46 (AR) - Buemi in the #8 has been 2 sec/lap faster than the #2 Audi. Currently 2:10 back.

13:40 (AR) - Quite a few cars pitting for slicks now. P1 leaders likely to pit shortly

13:36 (AR) - #98 Aston now on slicks as well. The #99 is second in class and is the one still on wets. As I'm posting this, the class leading #92 Porsche is changing to slicks as well as the #32 Lotus P2 car.

13:27 (AR) - GTE-Pro Aston #97 is the first car to venture onto slicks. Now out 4th in class. Porsche #99 currently leading class in front of #99 Aston.

13:26 (AR) - #70 Labre Corvette into garage again. Bad race not improving any for them.

13:20 (AR) - #47 KCMG Morgan into garage. Being reported as looking a little bit warm (steaming from under engine cover)

13:17 (AR) - Also of note on track right now, in the #41 Greaves/Caterham Zytec P2 car is Alexander Rossi. Notable for being the only American currently active in Formula 1 as reserve driver for Caterham F1. He drove FP1 in Montreal and I believe is set to drive FP1 in a few more events this year.

13:15 (AR) - More bad news being reported for the #1 Audi. Now the windshield wiper is supposedly broken.

13:13 (AR) - Proton Porsches accidentally stacked themselves in the pits. Track being reported as very wet on parts and still dry on others.

13:08 (AR) - Green Flag - Both Toyotas now on the lead lap due to the extended safety car.

13th Hour Update (AR) -

Not much changed last hour, as it was mostly spent under caution. Audi will still be in the lead when it goes back green. Questionable choice to leave the safety car out another lap to let people change onto wets.

Unsure where people are in classes at this time due to pits and safety car. In another hour it will likely be more clear.

13:00 (AR) - Plan to go green has been waved off temporarily due to rain. Still should be over shortly. Several cars now on full wets.

12:41 (AR) - Rain being reported at Indy

12:36 (AR) - Several cars in garage right now to do repairs while they've got the luxury of 7 minute laps.

12:24 (AR) - Per RLM, armco repair expected to last another 40 mins. Now would be a good time to get dinner if you have not yet.

12:18 (AR) - Safety car will likely be a long one. Armco repairs under way. have to at least replace bottom 2 levels of it. Marshals also taking time to clean gravel off the circuit.

12:10 (AR) - Retirement Update -

Officially 6 cars retired: 4 LMP2, 2 GTE-AM.

The last 3 cars scored as running at the half:

48th place: #54 GTE-AM of AF Corse (cause of current safety car, so this may change) 35 laps from leader

49th place: #39 LMP2 of DKR Engineering. The old Lola is still running, and is not last in class because of it!

50th place: #70 GTE-AM of Labre Competition, 47 laps behind leaders. Car was marooned in the pits with what was believed to be clutch issues some time ago.

12:05 (AR) - Safety Car #7 - #54 AF Corse Ferrari off going into Tetre Rouge. #2 Audi pits from lead.

HALFWAY UPDATE (AR) -

As of this posting, the leading Audi is scored 181 laps completed.

After some bad luck for 2/3 of the Audi field, the #2 finds itself out in front alone. A lap back to the #8 Toyota, and then another minute or so to the #7 Toyota. The #3 Audi is another lap back from there, a few laps up on the Rebellions. #1 Audi is now back up to 9th overall, 3 laps behind the #21 Strakka in 7th.

In P2, we have Oak Morgans 1-2, #35-#24 separated by a minute or so. In third is the #38 Jota Sport Zytek a lap back.

In GTE-Pro, Aston Martin #99 is followed by the #92 Porsche, a minute and a half back. Right with the Porsche, in third place and less that ten seconds away is the #97 Aston. The American entries are still plugging away, but have not had any help by the Safety cars. Corvettes are 3 laps back in class, SRT another 3 behind that.

Back to GTE-AM, at the current time the #76 IMSA Porsche is leading the AF Corse Ferraris, #55 and #61, All of them are on the same lap.

11:55 (AR) - Coming up on the half way point of the race. I have a fancy beer ready for the occasion. About to go uncork it.

11:50 (AR) - #92 Porsche had lead in GTE-Pro for a moment as the leading Aston went off and continued. Proceeded to pit. Aston still in lead.

11:44 (AR) - Leading Audi and both Toyotas go through the same gravel trap briefly. #1 Audi gets a lap back, as does possibly one of the Toyotas. All wound up bunched up under the same Safety Car. Audi still leading by essentially one lap though.

11:41 (AR) - Green Flag - Scary moment for the Level 5 P2 car being held at the end of pit road waiting for the Safety Car to pull in and found itself in a could of its own turbo smoke. All good however, just some oil burning off.

11:32 (AR) - It is 2:32 am local time in LeMans France. If you've never been to a 24 hour endurance race before, this is the moment when you realize you can go to bed for 8 hours, and there will still be a full Nascar length race waiting for you at the other end.

11:28 (N) - While we're under safety car, I'm going to take a break and leave you in the capable hands of AxelRipper.

11:18 (N) - Safety Car #6 - Someone on fire at MP 123, which is the end of the Porsche Curve. Its the Status GP Visit Florida LMP1 machine. Tony Burgess is the driver, and the door is open. He's being helped away on his own feet. Picture via @baekdal24hours

81st 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Live BlogS

11:16 (N) - Stop plus 30 for the 66 458 in GTE-Pro for a pit stop violation (driver unbuckling or turning off his lights before fully stopped).

11:15 (N) - Action in LMP2 as Alex Brundle in the 24 has taken the lead from the 35.

11:11 (N) - Make a wish! - But its really a retirement - The Gulf Racing LMP2 car has retired, presumably for general suckiness.

Hour 11 Update (N) -

Still no changes at the pointy end of the field: 2 Audi from 7 and 8 Toyotas.

LMP2 sees no change either: 35, 24, 38. All Nissans, first two are Morgan chassis, 38 is a Zytek.

GTE-Pro sees no change either. 99, 92, 97. Astons sandwiching a 911.

GTE-Am had some drama with the 77 911 spinning and almost causing a safety car. Currently its the 76 911 leading the 55 and 61 911s.

10:46 (N) - The battle in GTE-Pro is heating back up. The 3rd place Aston Martin is now within 2 seconds of the 2nd place 911. If you click on the 911 on this page, you can watch an onboard.

10:43 (N) - Retirement - A tough week is over for the Krohn Ferrari team, as they become the 4th retirement of the race.

10:40 (N) - Fassler in the 1 Audi reports a vibration. His engineers think its due to tyres, not an inverter. Marcel shouldn't have locked up if he didn't want flat spots.

10:36 (N) - The 81 8Star 458 has had an off at Mulsanne corner. He's beached in the gravel.

10:34 (N) - Tom Kristensen finally gets out of the number 2 Audi after a 3.5 hour stint. The Larbre has a clutch issue and was smoking on its way into the garage.

10:28 (N) - The Larbre got out of the gravel and has now made it to the pits. Well he made it onto pit lane, but stalled just outside of the official "pits," so his team cannot push him the rest of the way in, but the marshalls can and did, so the 70 will get serviced.

10:24 (N) - The 70 Larbre Corvette has spun at the exit of the Porsche Curves. It looks like he might be beached.

10:21 (N) - 77 is clear, safety car off standby.

10:20 (N) - Dempsey in the 77 911 has spun at the Dunlop Curve after getting hit by a P2 car. He's having trouble starting the car. Safety car on standby.

10:13 (N) - The 74 Corvette has an electrical issue: they only have one functioning headlight. They'll be called into the pits to fix it.

10:12 (N) - Ho Pin Tung in the 47 LMP2 has had an off at the Ford Chicane. Ho Pin is a Dutchman of Chinese ancestry who races with a Chinese license because sponsorship, probably.

10:09 (N) - If you're not listening to Radio Le Mans, John Hindaugh is back in the booth. Be on the lookout (hearout?) for "My goodness me!"

Hour 10 Update (N) -

Still no change at the front, as the 2 Audi leads the 7 and 8 Toyotas. During this hour, we had the 25 LMP2 car retire, and celebrity Patrick Dempsey take the lead in GTE-Am.

LMP2 is lead by the same three as last hour: 35, 24, 38.

GTE-Pro saw some good battling, but it is still the Aston/911 circus, with the 92 911 splitting the leading 99 Aston and the 97.

GTE-Am saw Dempsey lead in the 77 911, but he's an Am driver, so he's dropped back to 3rd behind the 55 458 and 76 911.

9:59 (N) - The 7 Toyota is starting to gain on the 2 Audi, but it's likely that the Audi is just conserving.

9:51 (N) - Penalty - 30 seconds stop hold for the Rebellion Lola for speeding in pit lane.

9:46 (N) - There's reports of oil in the Porsche Curves. Now they're tough enough during the day, let alone at night with oil on the track.

9:37 (N) - The 88 911 has spun off in the Esses, and the 77 911 driven by Dempsey takes over the lead in GTE-Am. There's a snatch trailer out to get the 88. He's properly beached.

9:34 (N) - The 7 Toyota has surpassed it's distance from last year's 24.

9:24 (N) - Penalty - 30 second stop-hold for the 93 SRT Viper for running the red light at the end of pit lane.

9:23 (N) - 2 Audi and 7 Toyota in for fuel. Toyota currently has a 2 pit stop advantage, but Audi leads by just over a lap. The Toyota again got 13 laps on his stint, but TK got 11 on his.

9:13 (N) - Retirement - Oreca number 25 is officially the 3rd retirement of the race.

9:11 (N) - Green flag! - We're back green, and the leaders are all still together.

Hour 9 Update - Happy Sunday Edition! - (N)

As we enter into Sunday, we're again under safety car, this time for the Krohn Ferrari pointing the wrong direction in the Porsche Curves.

Not much change in any classes, we still have #2 Audi leading 7 and 8 Toyota.

In LMP2, 35 leads 24, both Morgan-Nissans, and they lead 42 Zytek-Nissan.

GTE-Pro continues to be the Aston/911 show, with 99 Aston leading 97 Aston leading 92 911.

GTE-Am is the cause of the most recent safety car, with 88 911 leading Dempsey in the 77 911 and the 55 458. As I was writing this, the 50 Larbre Corvette went off at the Dunlop Chicane.

8:57 (N) - Here's a pic of the Krohn Ferrari via @baekdal24hours. He's stopped in the Porsche Curves pointing the wrong direction.

81st 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Live BlogS

8:54 (N) - Safety Car #5 - Krohn Racing's 458 is stationary somewhere.

8:52 (N) - The top 4 overall are running together, but Lucas DiGrassi in the 3 Audi is a whole lap down, and TK in the 2 Audi is trying to lap the Toyotas.

8:51 (N) - There was smoke and flames coming out the back of Ryan Briscoe's 33 LMP2 machine.

8:49 (N) - The 1 Audi is in for fuel and the mechanics are looking around underneath, but they don't find anything.

8:44 (N) - Bad news for the leading number 2 Audi as Tom Kristensen reports a vibration. If it's serious, we could see the Toyotas take the lead.

8:38 (N) - The French commentators are mighty excited, unfortunately I don't speak a lick of French. Dempsey is in for his first stint, and there is a media scrum at his car.

8:29 (N) - Kaz Nakijima in the 7 Toyota just came in from a 13 lap stint. If the Toyotas can keep that up all night, it'll go a long ways towards catching the lead Audi.

8:28 (N) - The number 1 Audi is now up to 16th overall, but he's still 11 laps down.

8:24 (N) - Tom Kristensen in the 2 Audi goes straight on at the second chicane. He mentioned something about a cooler on the radio. Not sure what it's about.

8:22 (N) - The 7 Toyota has just set his fast lap on his last flyer before a pit stop. The track is somewhat greasy, but rain is not falling.

8:18 (N) - The lead Audi and 2nd place Toyota are near each other, but separated by a lap.

8:17 (N) - There's debris on the track at Arnage; hopefully it'll get cleared without a safety car.

8:15 (N) - Pat Long in the 77 911 is your new GTE-Am leader.

8:05 (N) - The safety cars are in, and we're back under green.

Hour 8 Update (N) -

We're currently under safety car for an LMP2 car spinning into the wall at the Porsche Curves, and the 3 Audi is in the pits for a broken sidelight. The mechanics have changed the engine cover and nose. The 1 Audi is back out, but 12 laps down. The 2 Audi has yet to have issues and leads the 7 and 8 Toyotas under safety car.

LMP2 is lead by 35 Morgan-Nissan from 38 Zytek-Nissan and 24 Morgan-Nissan.

The GTE-Pro battle was quite fierce until the safety car came out. It is currently led by the 99 Aston from the 92 911 and the 97 Aston.

GTE-Am hasn't got much screen time, which means they're still staying out of the way. The top 3 are all 911s, with the 88 leading the 77 and 76.

7:56 (N) - The 3 Audi has been backed into the garage. They have a broken sidelight that they're trying to fix.

7:56 (N) - Here's a picture of the cleanup at the Porsche Curves via @baekdal24hours

81st 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Live BlogS

7:52 (N) - Tor Greaves in the 25 LMP2 car is the reason for the safety car. There's a snatch tractor out to get him. He had a spin in the same place during warmup this morning.

7:50 (N) - Safety Car #4 - Debris on the track and car on driver's left at MP 115, which is near the Porsche Curves. Meanwhile, the 33 Level 5 LMP2 was in the pits smoking.

7:49 (N) - Race leader Tom Kristensen in the 2 Audi pits for fuel and keeps the lead.

7:42 (N) - As we enter full-night racing, the 3 Audi has cut the gap to 40 seconds on the 3rd place Toyota.

7:38 (N) - The leading 2 Audi has about 2:30 on the 7 Toyota. If the weather stays wet or wet-ish, expect the Toyota to keep making up time.

7:33 (N) - The rain hasn't lessened the GTE-Pro battle, either. All three leading cars are triple stinting and separated by about 15 seconds.

7:31 (N) - The gap between the leading Audi and the 2nd place Toyota is coming down. They Toyota of Stefan Serrazan is making up about 4 seconds per lap.

7:26 (N) - The 1 Audi is back in the race. They are 12 laps down after losing 43 minutes.

7:22 (N) - The top 3 in GTE-Pro are only separated by 20 seconds. If the director switches to that, be sure to watch.

7:20 (N) - The number 2 Audi has his windshield wiper on. There is heavy rain reported at MP14, which is the Forest Esses. The Audis, for whatever reason, don't have the same performance advantage in the wet as they do in the dry.

7:19 (N) - According to Radio Le Mans, "there is rain amongst the wind." We can also see rain on the turn 1 camera lense.

7:10 (N) - Of course, as I was writing the hourly update, Dr. Ullrich told various media that the problem is a generator relating to the hybrid system. It's looking bleaker and bleaker for a number 1 threepeat.

Hour 7 Update (N) -

An eventful hour, as 2 of the 3 Audi's had technical difficulties, shaking up the LMP1 (and overall) standings.

The number 1 Audi has a failed crankshaft sensor. The team has to pull the engine to replace the sensor, and it is currently 4 laps down. The number 3 Audi had a puncture at the Dunlop chicane and had to limp all the way back around the circuit. This leaves the 2 Audi leading the 7 and 8 Toyotas by about a lap.

In LMP2, the 26 Oreca-Nissan leads the 35 Morgan-Nissan and the 38 Zytek-Nissan.

GTE-Pro saw some nose-to-tail battling for first. Currently it is 99 Aston leading 92 911 leading 97 Aston.

GTE-Am has yet to cause a leader to retire, so that's good. The 88 911 leads the 55 458 and 76 911.

6:56 (N) - The 46 Zytek LMP2 just launched about 3 feet into the air at the second chicane. Picture via @Mattzel89

81st 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Live BlogS

6:52 (N) - Oliver Jarvis says he got ran into by a Lotus LMP2, causing his flat and delamination.

6:50 (N) - Loic Duval is the new leader in the number 2 Audi, with the 7 and 8 Toyotas both on the same lap in 2nd and 3rd.

6:48 (N) - The number 3 Audi made it back to the pits, and the Audi mechanics only changed the tires. Jarvis did a fantastic job getting the car back to the pits without any body damage. The number 1 Audi is in some serious trouble; the mechanics are disconnecting the engine from the monocoque. RLM thinks the issue is a crankshaft sensor.

6:44 (N) - The 1 Audi is in for an unscheduled stop, and he's been wheeled into the garage. This is likely due to his issues leaving pit lane. There will be 2 Audis in the garage at the same time, leaving just the number 2 Audi to keep up the fight against the 2 Toyotas.

6:41 (N) - Trouble for the 3 Audi. Oliver Jarvis's tire did a Pirelli and delaminated just after pit exit. He's now got 12 kilometers to drive on just a rim.

6:38 (N) - The 1 Audi may be in regulatory trouble. The mechanics pushed him to get him going, but push-starts are not allowed by the regulations.

6:36 (N) - The 1 Audi and a Toyota pit together, the Toyota does a full service with driver change. The 1 Audi has trouble getting out up to speed coming out of the pits, allowing the 2 Audi to close the gap.

6:35 (N) - Aston Martin has released a statement on the death of Allan Simonsen:

Le Mans, 22 June 2013: It is with great shock and sadness that the Aston Martin Racing Team confirms that an accident occurred shortly after the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at around 15:09 hrs CET today (22 June) when the No 95 Vantage GTE driven by Allan Simonsen left the track at Tertre Rouge.

Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan’s injuries proved fatal.

Aston Martin Racing Managing Director, John Gaw, said: “On behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Racing, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the individuals, and families whose friends or loved ones were involved in today's terrible tragedy.”

Aston Martin Racing will not make any further comment until the precise circumstances of the accident have been determined. Next of kin have been informed.

Following the ACO’s media statement concerning the tragic death of Aston Martin Racing driver Allan Simonsen, and at the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan.

6:32 (N) - The GTE-Pro battle comes into the pits, both cars pit for just fuel and the Aston continues to lead the 911. As they were in the pits, Bruno Senna in another Aston Martin passes them both to take the lead.

6:30 (N) - In GTE-Pro the leading Aston Martin and the second place 911 are running nose to tail through Indy and Arnage.

6:25 (N) - The top 3 GTE-Pro (2 Astons and a 911) teams are about to make their next pit stops. The Audis will also be in within a few laps.

6:19 (N) - The Strakka LMP1 has a water leak, so they have to refill it every pit stop.

6:14 (N) - The number 88 GTE-Am 911 straightlined the second chicane. The Radio Le Mans booth is reporting light rainfall.

6:09 (N) - The number 3 Audi pits for fuel. Meanwhile, the number 7 Toyota filled up its 76 L tank with 75.28 L of fuel. They're pushing the pace to keep up with Audi and are starting to cut it very close.

Hour 6 Update (AR) -

Starting to get dark over the track.

Not much has happened in P1. Toyota is still continues to be slow in the pace, likely trying to keep pit strategy. Audi is starting to set fastest laps and push into the dark

In P2, the #26 G-Drive car has been leading the #35 Oak Morgan. those 2 cars are shown rather tight on T&S.

The Astons have been leading the Porsches in GTE-Pro still. Gap from earlier after top 3? Still there.

In GTE-AM, the #55 AF Corse Ferrari is leading, followed by the Proton, Imsa, and Dempsey Porsches.

I will now be handing this blog off to nobody for a little while. He's somebody, but he goes by nobody. Don't ask.

5:48 (AR) - #61 AF Corse Ferrari spins in Porsche Curves. Was/is 3rd in GTE-AM

5:46 (AR) - Bruno Senna passes Richard Leitz to make it a 1-2 again in GTE-Pro for Aston Martin.

5:39 (AR) - #28 Lola P2 into garage. Also, the #81 Ferrari still has not reached the pits yet. Spewing quite a bit of small debris around the left side of the track for a good deal of it, but staying green and having marshals just collect the big pieces between cars.

5:33 (AR) - Audi #3 into pits almost immediately. Still 1-2-3 in race, Toyota 4-5. #49 P2 spins in Arnage and the #81 Ferrari has a flat LR tire.

5:32 (AR) - Green Flag - At least 5 cars spun last time... Will see what happens this time

5:26 (AR) - Safety Car #3 - Due to an INCREDIBLY large piece of debris on the track. #32 Lotus' entire engine cover came off and was sitting in the middle of Mulsanne.

5:22 (AR) - Green Flag - After a rather short SC, back to green. Almost immediately, the lead P2 car spins in the Porsche curves and manages to only nose into some tires without any damage, and not taking the Audi behind them out. At the exact same time, the remaining Lotus has lost its engine cover on track.

5:07 (AR) - Safety Car #2 - Debris ontrack due to #36 Alpine blowing tire in Tetre Rouge. One of the Audis it appears being held on pit road to catch next SC. I may have gotten that wrong though. Either way the #1 is now in the pits during the SC.

5:02 (AR) - And we have a second retirement. The #31 Lotus has officially retired.

Hour 5 Update (AR):

AUDI AUDI AUDI, OI OI OI.

There have been no lead changes or retirements since the last update. Just everyone plugging away. However, Toyota now running almost one full pitstop less than Audi, and it still doesn't seem to be helping.

Now on Speed: Sprint Cup Qualifying from Sonoma. If you have the ability to watch the online stream and have Quali on at the same time, I'd suggest it. This will be amusing at the least.

4:58 (AR) - Enough fuel left in the exhaust of the Level 5 P2 car to burn for the entire stop. Shot enough out the exhaust on the restart for the officials to fire their extinguishers briefly.

4:39 (AR) - #51 Ferrari dragged into pit garage really quick to fix something in the cockpit.

4:35 (AR) - Audi starting their next round of pit stops. 10 lap stints now. Fun fact, those 2 bottles that they change on the left side of the car every stop? One of them is drink fluid, the other is windshield/headlight washer fluid.

At the same time, the Krohn Ferrari gets beached and has to get pulled out, and one of the Astons spins into Dunlop.

4:32 (AR) - Porsche missing his chance to make Ho-Pin Tung jokes. I don't know enough to do them, but he has been in many race series.

4:30 (AR) - #53 Viper backed into pits now. Believed to be an electrical issue.

4:15 (AR) - #53 Viper has beached itself in a gravel trap on pit in and is being pulled out.

4:11 (AR) - Flat tire for the Level 5 P2. Currently holding a steady mid-pack in class. Also, there has been a surprising amount of P2 coverage on video, even for the DKR car.

Hour 4 Update (AR) -

Track drying out now, sun shining. As wet as it has been, there have been no more safety cars.

Audi has spent most of recent laps 1-2-3, Toyota back almost a minute. However, the extra laps that Toyota can pull on stints is about to become apparent.

P2 still seems to be incredibly close, being lead currently by the #24 Oak Morgan.

In GTE-Pro, Aston still holding off Porsche by a bit. The gap caused by the safety car earlier is still very apparent.

In GTE-AM, AF Corse is maintaining 1-2 ahead of a group of Porsches.

3:58 (AR) - #3 Audi and #32 Lotus both go straight at one of the chicanes. No damage. Audis now cycling through pits.

3:55 (AR) - #38 Zytek taps the armco, spins, and keeps going with minimal damage. Also, sun is now shining over the track.

3:45 (AR) - After a full cycling of pit stops, the Audi's are 1-2-3 with the 1 almost a minute ahead of the 2-3, which are another minute gap to the Toyotas.

3:35 (AR) - New nose and some fixes for the #12 Rebellion after spinning. Also reports that the Zytek car pulled out a suspension point.

Official ACO Statement:

The driver was immediately attended on the scene by the doctors from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s Medical Service.

In a serious condition, Allan Simonsen was transferred immediately to the Circuit Medical Centre where he died soon after due to his injuries.

Allan Simonsen’s family has been informed immediately by David Richards, Principal of the Aston Martin Racing team.

Allan Simonsen, an experienced driver aged 34, had taken part in seven 24 Heures du Mans.

His team mates in the No.95 car were his fellow countrymen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest wishes to express its great sadness following this incident, and extends its deepest condolences to the family and those close to Allan Simonsen.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest will make no further statement while the exact reasons for the accident are still being wholly determined.

http://www.24h-lemans.com/en/news/2013-2...

3:30 (AR) - Good afternoon everyone, I'm AxelRipper and I'll be filling in for Porsche9146 for a little while. Getting very wet out on a good deal on the tracks. Had a lot of cars off recently, including one of the Rebellions. The Toyotas are still fighting well with the Audis. They seem to have a bit more speed in the wet than the Audis do.

Tragically, the ACO has announced that Allan Simonsen has succumbed to his injuries and passed away. This is the first in-race fatality at Le Mans in decades and a tragedy of unimaginable proportions.

Due to this horrible, horrible news, I'm going to take a break from this outlet. I may not return, but rest assured someone will.

3:00 - Hour 3 Update

Audi and Aston Martin leads hold steady in dicey conditions.

Audi's 1-2-3 is still as 1-2-3 as ever, but their chief competition's had some interesting experiences in the last hour. Most notably, the #7 Toyota stopped on track, only to refire and continue on without issue. A minor frustration now, possibly a major problem later. The #8 still seems to be healthy, but this is the second possible electronic issue for the #7 TS030.

LMP2 saw small offs for the leading OAK Racing entries, but they still hold down positions 1 and 2 over Pecom, who still sits third.

GTE-Pro is still lead by the #97 Aston Martin, but the #99 has finally gotten by the #91 Porsche to make it a 1-2.

GTE-Am sees no major change save the fact that the once second place IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche suffered a blown tire and was forced to make an unscheduled stop.

The #95 Aston Martin is still the only retirement of the race.

2:56 - A big flat for the #67 IMSA Matmut Porsche, who was the second place runner in GTE-Am before that issue.

2:54 - Apparently the #32 Lotus is having trouble keeping it's door closed. There's a joke about lawsuits in there somewhere but I'm already too tired to find it. Meanwhile, Lapierre has no trouble getting out of the pits on his own power on a very normal looking stop despite earlier issues.

2:44 - A Corvette, an Aston Martin and an AF Corse Ferrari all go off together in turn 1. The #74 spins and rejoins.

2:34 - McNish did 11 laps on that last stint, one more than Audi was expected to be able to do! If Audi can keep that up, Toyota's fuel advantage may be a moot point.

2:33 - The #7 restarts after fixing the car in exactly the same way you fix a lock-up on your home computer: turning it off and turning it back on. It looks healthy again but that's more than a bit ominous for Toyota.

2:32 - Toyota stopped on track! Looks like a major mechanical issue for the once leading #7!

2:29 - SRT Viper #53 jumps Corvette #73 in the pits. Both are putting in much more competent lap times than they did in qualifying, but not nearly the pace expected considering the fact that both are top flight organizations. They are certainly not out of this race yet but won't be challenging for the lead any time soon.

Meanwhile, LMP2 leading OAK Racing #24 has an off at Turn 1. Looks like the rain is mostly in that early section of the track.

2:25 - Oliver Gavin has an off while SPEED is advertising their Corvette onboards. Poor timing on that one! In the same spot, Di Grassi had an off in about the same spot, the gravel in the Dunlop curves.

Looks like the rain's picking up again...

2:18 - The track's drying rather well, so Toyota's change to the treadless intermediate seems like a poor idea at the moment.

Meanwhile, near-identical AF Corse Ferraris #51 and #71 shown touching fenders with one another on replay.

2:17 - Kodewa-Lotus #31 has been removed from it's beached position and is now parked behind the barriers at the second Mulsanne chicane.

2:15 - Looks like some sort of issues already for the #93 Viper, now 3 laps down.

2:09 - The #31 Lola is beached over the kerb into the second chicane on the Mulsanne. A horrible place to be stalled and possibly the source of a safety car.

2:08 - Lapierre pits from the lead. He appears to have taken Michelin's new treadless intermediate tires, since the tire change was made far earlier than expected and was done with clearly groove-less tires. The #3 Audi of Lucas Di Grassi has an off at Indianapolis from 3rd but keeps it clean.

2:05 - Yeah, it's time to switch to wets. More than half the track is fully wet and the race between the #7 and #1 (the former of which is yet to pit) is side by side. On slicks. In the wet. Lapierre now takes the lead into Indianapolis!

JMW's unmistakable yellow Ferrari appears to be beached in the gravel in the Porsche curves, which as you can guess aren't nearly as fast in the wet as they are in the dry.

2:02 - Getting wetter by the minute. Time to switch to wets here in a bit?

While we're on the subject of racing in the rain, it looks like the first half of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America could be run in the rain as well. They qualify in an hour and you can watch it on your computer via WatchESPN.com without switching your TV away from Le Mans awesomeness. Technology! Remember to cheer for the #77 KBM entry of Parker Kligerman, who could potentially be part of this very blog later tonight.

2:00 - Hour 2 Update

Finally back to green!

After an hour of green flag running, Audi's shown that they have an answer for Toyota's newly revealed speed, and it's even more speed. They now run 1-2-3 with the cars numbered 1, 2 and 3 in exactly that order.

OAK Racing has shown it's hand and as expected is leading early in LMP2, with the #24 leading the #35. Jota Sport is the lead Zytek entry in third, while the AF Corse run Pecom entry is 4th.

GTE-Pro is now being somewhat dominated by the #97 Aston Martin, which leads the #91 Porsche and the #99 Aston Martin by nearly 30 seconds.

GTE-Am is lead by AF Corse's strangely blue #61 Ferrari, mostly due to an off by the #96 Aston Martin and a surprise tire puncture from Patrick Dempsey's #77 Porsche from the lead.

Three LMP2 entries, those of ADR-Delta and Gulf Racing Middle East as well as the Kodewa run Lotus numbered 31, have spent time in the garage during this hour.

The #95 is still the only official retirement. There has been no update on the condition of that car's driver, Allan Simonsen, who is supposedly awake and in transit to a larger hospital at the moment.

Oh, and it's starting to rain. It always rains at Le Mans...

1:53 - #96, the second GTE-Am Aston, has an incident in nearly exactly the same place his team mate did. However, Jamie Campbell-Walter kept the AMR entry off the wall.

1:49 - Aston Martin now stretching out their GTE-Pro lead to a full 30 seconds with the #97. However, the #99 isn't quite so lucky, now sitting immediately behind the #91 Porsche in a battle for second.

1:47 - NBC Sports Network's Tony DiZinno sums up the Gulf Racing Middle East story rather well:

1:44 - Gulf Racing Middle East and Kodewa (the Lotus LMP2 program) #31 have both spent some time in the garage and are thus already many laps down.

1:40 - Oreca #47 (KCMG) beached in the gravel outside Indianapolis. Safety Car?

1:38 - The #2 Audi passes the #3 Audi again and the Audis numbered 1, 2 and 3 are now fittingly running first, second and third in the proper order.

1:31 - Meanwhile, the barely shown LMP2 class is currently an OAK Racing 1-2, lead by the #24. Stops now cycling through for GT cars. The highlight of that to this point is the fact that the #71 AF Corse entry hit the #91 factory Porsche entry in the pits!

1:30 - Audi now 1-2-3 a stops cycle through. Di Grassi takes second overall from McNish.

1:26 - Toyota #8 goes another lap further than the #7!

1:23 - Toyota #7 went 3 laps further than the leading Audis on that run!

1:19 - Routine stops for the LMP1 leaders now. Toyota keeps the 7 out and as expected takes the lead of the 24 hours of Le Mans for the first time in 2013.

1:17 - Larbre Corvette #70 has a spin as well.

1:16 - Rui Aguas spins the 8Star Ferrari and rejoins.

1:13 - A few teams pitting immediately after the safety car here, including the LMP2 leading #24 OAK Racing entry.

1:11 - McNish takes 3rd from the #7 Toyota in the #2 Audi. The #3 Audi follows, moving the #8 to 5th. Possible misfiring issues for the 7.

1:08 - Back to green. The top 5 P1 cars are back to fighting for the overall lead.

1:04 - Safety car in this lap.

1:00 - Hour 1 update:

Toyota's officially got more pace than they've let on...

In LMP1, it took the two TS030s all of 3 laps to go from 4th and 5th to 2nd and 3rd, and before the early safety car, the #7 entry appeared ready to take the lead.

In LMP2, the OAK Racing #24 leads KCMG's OAK Morgan and Jota's Zytek.

GTE-Pro sees Aston Martin #99 lead Porsche #92 and Aston Martin #97.

GTE-Am, meanwhile, sees a surprisingly quick #77 Dempsey-Del Piero-Proton entry leading the IMSA Performance Matmut run Porsche numbered 67.

Unfortunately, GTE-Am is also responsible for the story of the hour. A massive shunt for Allan Simonsen, driver of the #95 Aston Martin Racing entry, has left the race under safety car since the beginning of lap 3. He is said to be conscious, but his condition is not known past that. The race will restart shortly.

Retirements: 95

0:56 - I'm very happy to say that the ACO has confirmed that Allan Simonsen has been reported conscious by the ACO. No word on his condition past that, frustratingly.

0:52 - The #95 has entered "the boneyard", the legendary impound area where all retired cars are parked. When a car enters that area, and all cars that are towed instead of pushed do, it can no longer be worked on and thus cannot re-enter the race under any circumstances. Oh, and now there's a Patrick Dempsey interview. He was on a show on ABC or something, but to be honest I've never seen it. I have, however, seen him almost run me over in a 4 rotor Mazda GTP car in the paddock at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

0:48 - No wonder that hit was so big, the point where Simonsen hit the wall was immediately in front of the tree, and thus the low tech armco barrier didn't absorb nearly as much energy as it normally would.

0:43 - Thankfully, it appears the DKR Lola did not start-and-park. It is back out on track behind the third safety car, which also picks up every car that's pitted to this point. ADR-Delta's #25 is still in the garage. Still no update on Simonsen past the fact that he's out of the car. The safety car continues to be rather long with some severe track repairs.

0:40 - Drops of rain reported at Mulsanne corner. A reminder that Audi's hybrid system powers the front wheels, while Toyota's powers the rears. That's a big advantage in the wet. Meanwhile, Timo Bernhard is rather upset about being stuck behind the second Safety Car. He does, however, confirm that he will leave the Porsche GTE program to test the 2014 Porsche LMP1 car after Le Mans.

0:33 - Pretty long safety car so far. Simonsen is in an ambulance that appears to be based off of a late-80s Volkswagen Vanagon, here's to hoping he's okay. Worth noting that the GTE class is already being split by the safety car, with the top three cars now a full third of the track ahead of the car in fourth.

0:30 - The issue for the ADR-Delta car (which, I reiterate, is not a G-Drive owned car, but is G-Drive sponsored) is apparently an air compression issue that's messing with the gear selection. Gear selection issues are relatively common in prototypes, but usually it's an electronic issue, not a mechanical one!

0:28 - Bob Varsha just described Karun Chandok as a "former Indian". To clarify, he's still just as much Indian as he was the day he was born. He tweets from a weird time zone in the middle of the night and everything.

0:26 - How do you know it's Le Mans? Well, we're watching the highlights of the first 10 minutes of the race for the third time. The only thing the French world feed controllers love more than a highlights package is cutting to engineers sitting in chairs in garages, shots of the moon and hourly slow motion shots of class leaders hopping kerbs.

0:23 - ADR-Delta's in the garage already. For those keeping score at home, that's the Oreca-Nissan numbered 25 and sponsored by G-Drive, not the Oreca-Nissan numbered 26 and owned by G-Drive! The DKR Lola entry is also in the garage. I'm starting to wonder if that entry did a NASCAR backmarker style start-and-park...

0:16 - Live timing is finally up! Let's check on the top 3 in all the other classes:

LMP2 is lead by the heavy favorite OAK Racing #24, followed by the G-Drive Racing Oreca and the Signatech Oreca badged an Alpine.

GTE-Pro is lead by the beautiful #97 Aston Martin art car, followed by the #92 Porsche factory entry and the #99 Aston Martin. The first Ferrari is AF Corse #51 in 6th, while the first Corvette is the #74 factory entry sitting in 7th.

GTE-Am is now lead by Patrick Dempsey's Dempsey Del Piero-Proton entry, leading the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche and the non-Dempsey Proton Porsche. The #95 was leading when it had it's massive wreck, which I'm guessing wasn't captured on camera.

0:10 - The car has been announced to be the GTE-Am class leading #95 of Allan Simonsen. The car is absolutely demolished and the replay shown was only the tail end of the incident but it appears the car went straight on somewhere along the Mulsanne straight. Needless to say, 95 is the first retirement of the race and the first Safety Car of the race is out.

0:09 - Already a terrifyingly huge wreck for one of the five Aston Martins. The passenger's side door and boot cover are completely torn off and the chassis appears twisted. No replay yet nor identification of which car it is.

0:07 - Want to know what's happening in any other class? So do I! Unfortunately, it appears that Timing and Scoring is struggling (at the race it's needed most, at that...) and the battle for the overall lead has (rightly) been far too exciting to cut away from. Worth noting that Rebellion's two entries are not far behind the second pack of Audis and Toyotas, which starts in third. Do they have more pace than we think as well?

0:05 - Davison and Mc Nish now side by side for 3rd in the #8 Toyota and #2 Audi. Lapierre in the #7 already making a move on Lotterer in the #1! Audi-Toyota-Toyota-Audi-Audi now the running!

0:04 - TS030 #8 passes R18 #3 to take 4th. Audi-Toyota-Audi-Toyota-Audi now the running. I think we can now officially say that Toyota has more pace than they let on!

0:02 - The #1 Audi and the #7 Toyota have passed the #2 Audi, much to a patient Allan McNish's frustrations. The Toyota is just one position from leading lap one!

0:00 - Jim France waves the national flag of France and we're green at the 81st 24 Hours of Le Mans! The #7 Toyota's already made a pass on the #3 Audi and is going to attempt to take an early lead!

-0:03 - Onboards. So many beautiful, beautiful onboards. Let's hope those onboards show more on-track time than garage time this year.

-0:07 - Only now realizing that I missed my chance to open with "Goooooooooood morning Vietnam!", so I'm going to throw that in now. Formation lap set to begin soon.

-0:15 - Just 15 minutes to the green flag in the greatest endurance race on earth.

The track has just been declared wet for the start of the race, but not yet significantly so. With so long until the green drops, that scenario could change.

News came overnight that 20 cars have had their qualifying times invalidated due to not properly qualifying their own drivers. Those teams will instead start at a now quite near-the-front back of the grid, starting with Strakka Racing LMP1 car in 37th. SPEED and EuroSport are now on-air as the moment so long awaited draws closer.

(Title photo via Jota Sport)