Porsche in command at Le Mans

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The Independent Online
Motor racing

Porsche in command at Le Mans

Prototypes and GT racers fought a close battle in the first part of the Le Mans 24 Hour race last night as Porsche took a firm grip in their bid for a 14th win. Porsches occupied the first four places after four hours with a privately entered, open-top prototype driven by the German Manuel Reuter in the lead. Tussling behind him was the first of two new 911 GT1s with which Porsche are making their first official entry at Le Mans since 1993. The former grand prix driver Thierry Boutsen of Belgium was driving that car when he survived a scare on the 51st lap. There was little space to overtake when he lapped a Courage Porsche, driven by the Frenchman Philippe Alliot. Boutsen hit the rear of Alliot's car before getting past, losing a few seconds. Only the two leading Porsches were on the same lap. The third-placed car, a Porsche prototype driven by the Italians Michele Alboreto and Pierluigi Martini, sharing with the Belgian Didier Theys, was already one lap behind. Porsche also held fourth position through their second official GT1 car, which had led briefly in the opening stages with the Frenchman Yannick Dalmas at the wheel. Behind the four Porsches came the first McLaren, driven for the first couple of hours by former grand prix man JJ Lehto of Finland, who handed over to Briton Ray Bellm.

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