Communiqué n°7 - Saturday 12/6/99 - 22h00


At 20h47 the no.5 Mercedes-Benz driven by Peter Dumbreck from Scotland tried to pass Boutsen's Toyota into second place on the run down to Indianapolis. The German car suddenly lost all aerodynamic grip in much the same fashion as had Mark Webber on Thursday evening. It went up into the air flipped at least twice and landed behind the guardrail, luckily on its wheels. Dumbreck got out of the car by himself as the survival cell fulfilled its role perfectly. He was shocked but unhurt.
The event was immediately neutralised and Mercedes-Benz brought in Franck Lagorce who was in fourth spot and withdrew the car.

Ups and Downs for Toyota

The race began again at 21h25 and the Kristensen-Lehto-Müller BMW went back into the lead. The no.2 Toyota, which stopped after only 4 laps following a refuelling stop (badly fixed seatbelt?), came in during the intervention of the Pace-car to change the brake pads but held onto its second place just in front of the second works V12 BMW. The no.1 Toyota also stopped at 20h37 to repair a leak in the hydraulic system in the zone of the gearbox. This dropped the car driven by Brundle-Collard-Sospiri down to 20th spot. In 4th place was the no.12 Panoz followed by the no.3 Audi, the no.3 Toyota and then the R391 Nissan and no 21 the Courage powered by Nissan. After Mercedes-Benz's withdrawal, it will be a first time victory for whatever car wins the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours race.

The no.10 Audi coupé seemed to be afflicted by the same problems that eliminated its sister car no.9 which Christian Abt abandoned on Les Hunaudières with broken transmission. Another official retirement was that of the no.31 Riley & Scott of Gache-Formato-Thévenin due to overheating which also hit no.32 but the latter managed to continue. The no.25 Lola-Judd also gave up the ghost after a promising start to the race. "I heard a bang. There was a big cloud of smoke and I just managed to make it back to the pit," said Christophe Tinseau.
Then around 21h55 the 333 SP Ferrari driven by Policand-Baldi-Pescatori stopped at its pit which boded ill for the future while up front the Toyota began to pull in the leading BMW.