After the tragedy of Allan Simonsen's death and ensuing dramas of the first nine hours at Le Mans, the 24 Hours turned tense as the leading Audi fought to keep its lead ahead of the two chasing Toyotas and in the face of repeated yellow flags.

Tom Kristensen began to increase his advantage in the #2 Audi and as the clock approached 1.30am, the Dane pitted after three hours 22 minutes at the wheel and handed the R18 over to Allan McNish.

le mans mcnish

The #2 Audi led the field throughout the night at Le Mans

The Scot started to pull further away from Anthony Davidson in the #8 Toyota TS030 whilst Nicolas Lapierre in the #7 closed in on his team-mate. Behind them, Oliver Jarvis was able to chip away at the gap to the Toyotas in his #3 Audi.

Crashes then began to dominate as two incidents forced safety car periods. The first involved the #30 HVM Status Lola-Judd which crashed heavily at the Porsche Curves. The rear axle was ripped from the rest of the car with debris spread across the track. Fortunately driver Tony Burgess was able to get out unaided although he was taken to hospital for precautionary checks while racing resumed after 20 minutes or so.

However, within half an hour the safety cars were out again when the #54 AF Corse Ferrari hit the barriers at Tertre Rouge, causing substantial damage. The caution period lasted for more than an hour as repairs were made and when stewards extended the yellow flag period because of rain that began to fall soon after 4am. Fortunately for the Toyotas and through no actual racing, both had managed to restart on the same lap as the leading Audi.

Until that incident, McNish had tightened his grip on the lead while Jarvis had caught and passed Davidson to unlap himself. Soon after 5am, McNish led by just over two minutes.

Behind these cars, the one-time leading Audi #1 was steaming through the field after its earlier troubles which had put it 12 laps down. Some strong lap times allowed the R18 to get past the leading LMP2 cars and soon after 8.30am when yet another caution period was flagged after an Aston Martin dropped oil along the Mulsanne Straight, Marcel Fassler had taken the car up to sixth and was two laps behind the #13 Lola-Toyota of Rebellion Racing, the leading privateer in LMP1 in fifth.

Within a few minutes of the restart though, Fassler moved into fifth after the same Rebellion Racing car driven by Andrea Belicchi thumped into the barriers at Indianapolis, prompting yet another cautionary period. Belicchi got back to the pits but while Rebellion's mechanics swarmed over the car, Fassler was able to unlap himself and move to within two laps of his team-mate Lucas Di Grassi. With six hours remaining and after the previous incidents, it was more than plausible to think Fassler wouldn't finish in that position.

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  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°2 driven by Scottish Allan Mc Nish, (C) ahead of Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°1 driven by German Andre Lotterer (R) , Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°3 driven by Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi (L), Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 7 driven by French Nicolas Lapierre (3rd on the L) and Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 8 driven by British Anthony Davidson (2ndR) take the start of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race on June 22, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°2 driven by Scottish Allan Mc Nish, (L) ahead of Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°1 driven by German Andre Lotterer (R) , Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°3 driven by Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi (2ndL), Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 7 driven by French Nicolas Lapierre (3rd on the L) and Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 8 driven by British Anthony Davidson (4nd on the R) take the start of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race on June 22, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Competitors take the start of the 90th edition of Le Mans 24 Hour Race on June 22, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°2 driven by Scottish Allan Mc Nish, (L) Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°1 driven by German Andre Lotterer (R) , Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°3 driven by Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi (back L), Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 7 (back-R) driven by French Nicolas Lapierre and Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 8 driven by British Anthony Davidson (3R) take the start of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race on June 22, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read jean francois monier/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°2 driven by Scottish Allan Mc Nish, (L) Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°1 driven by German Andre Lotterer (R) , Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°3 driven by Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi (back L), Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 7 (back-R) driven by French Nicolas Lapierre and Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 8 driven by British Anthony Davidson (3R) take the start of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race on June 22, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A general view at the start of the 90th 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Marcel Fassler (SUI) / Andre Lotterer (GER) / Benoit Treluyer (FRA) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Anthony Davidson (GBR) / Sebastien Buemi (SUI) / Stephane Sarrazin (FRA) Toyota Racing, Toyota TS030, Hybrid.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Lucas Di Grassi (BRA) / Marc Gene (ESP) / Oliver Jarvis (GBR) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Allan Simonsen

    FILE - Danish Driver Allan Simonsen, left, is seen during a parade on the eve of the 90th 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, in this Friday, June 21, 2013 photo. The No.95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, driven by Simonsen, exited the track at high speed at the "Tertre Rouge" corner on his fourth lap of the race, He died after due to his injuries, Saturday, June 22, 2013.(AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)

  • The No.95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE is seen after the crash which killed the driver Allan Simonsen of Denmerk , during the Le Mans 24 hour car race Saturday, June 22, 2013. The No.95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, driven by Simonsen, exited the track at high speed at the "Tertre Rouge" corner on his fourth lap of the race, and Simonsen died of his injuries, Saturday. (AP Photo)

  • The garage of the No.95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, driven by Allan Simonsen of Denmerk is shuttered after his crash Saturday, June 22, 2013. The Aston Martin Vantage , driven by Simonsen, exited the track at high speed at the "Tertre Rouge" corner on his fourth lap of the race. He died later due to his injuries.(AP Photo)

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Marcel Fassler (SUI) / Andre Lotterer (GER) / Benoit Treluyer (FRA) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Ryan Dalziel (GBR) / Dominik Farnbacher (GER) / Marc Goossens (BEL) SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Anthony Davidson (GBR) / Sebastien Buemi (SUI) / Stephane Sarrazin (FRA) Toyota Racing, Toyota TS030, Hybrid.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Bill Auberlen (USA) / Paul Dalla Lana (CDN) / Pedro Lamy (POR) Aston Martin Vantage V8.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Bruno Senna (BRA) / Frederic Makowiecki (FRA) / Rob Bell (GBR) Aston Martin Vantage V8.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Jacques Nicolet (FRA) / Jean-Marc Merlin (FRA) / Philippe Mondolot (FRA) Oak Racing, Morgan - Nissan.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Alexander Wurz (AUT) / Nicolas Lapierre (FRA) / Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Toyota Racing, Toyota TS030, Hybrid.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Jack Gerber (RSA) / Matt Griffin (IRE) / Marco Cioci (ITA) AF Corse, Ferrari F458 Italia.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Marcel Fassler (SUI) / Andre Lotterer (GER) / Benoit Treluyer (FRA) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Simon Dolan (GBR) / Oliver Turvey (GBR) / Lucas Luhr (GER) Jota, Zytek Z11SN - Nissan.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Marcel Fassler (SUI) / Andre Lotterer (GER) / Benoit Treluyer (FRA) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Right) leads Tom Kristensen (DEN) / Loic Duval (FRA) / Allan McNish (GBR) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Centre) and Lucas Di Grassi (BRA) / Marc Gene (ESP) / Oliver Jarvis (GBR) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Left) at the start of the race.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • The Audi R18 E-Tron No1, front, driven by Andre Lotterer of Germany, Marcel Fassler of Switzerland and Benoit Treluyer of France is seen in action during the 90th 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°1 driven by Germany's Andre Lotterer (R) competes ahead of Toyota TS030 Hybrid N° 7 driven by France's Nicolas Lapierre ( L) during the 90th Le Mans 24 Hours Race on June 22, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read jean francois monier/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Mechanics of the Audi R18 E-Tron No1 driven by Andre Lotterer of Germany, Marcel Fassler of Switzerland and Benoit Treluyer of France are seen in action during the 90th 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

  • Mechanics of the Morgan Nissan driven by Julien Nicolet of France, Jean-Marie Merlin of France and Philippe Mondolot of France are seen in action during the 90th 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    US actor Patrick Dempsey in his pit after a relay in his Porsche 911 N°77 during the 90th 24-hours of Le Mans endurance race on June 23, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read jean francois monier/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Cars drive along the main grandstand straight during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 23, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • AUTO-FRA-MOTOR-RACING-ENDURANCE

    Audi R18 e-tron quattro N°2 driven by Danish Tom Kristensen competes during the 90th 24-hours of Le Mans endurance race on June 23, 2013, in Le Mans, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER (Photo credit should read jean francois monier/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Mechanics at work in the Murphy Prototypes garage during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 23, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Mechanics rest in the Murphy Prototypes garage during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 23, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Mechanics rest in the Murphy Prototypes garage during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 23, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Karun Chandhok of India and Murphy Prototypes drives in for a pitstop during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 23, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Mechanics rest in the Murphy Prototypes garage during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 23, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Olivier Beretta (MON) / Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) / Toni Vilander (FIN) AF Corse, Ferrari F458 Italia.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Roald Goethe (GER) / Stuart Hall (GBR) / Jamie Campbell-Walter (GBR) Aston Martin Vantage V8.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Yannick Mallegol (FRA) / Jean-Marc Bachelier (FRA) / Howard Blank (USA) AF Corse, Ferrari F458 Italia.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Le Mans 24h Race

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 22: The Audi Sport e-tron quattro of Lucas Di Grassi, Marc Gene and Oliver Jarvis drives during the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 22, 2013 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    The podium flies the Danish flag at half mast as a tribute to Allan Simonsen (DEN) Aston Martin Vantage V8, who suffered a fatal accident in the race.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • The Toyota TS-030 No8 driven by Anthony Davidson of Great Britain, Sebastien Buemi of Switzerland and Stephane Sarrazin of France in action during the 90th 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, Sunday, June 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Anthony Davidson (GBR) Toyota Racing, Toyota TS030, Hybrid.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Lucas Di Grassi (BRA) / Marc Gene (ESP) / Oliver Jarvis (GBR) Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R18 e-tron quattro.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Bruno Senna (BRA) Aston Martin Vantage V8.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.

  • Motor Racing - Le Mans 24 Hours Race - Le Mans, France

    Andrea Belicchi (ITA) / Mathias Beche (SUI) / Cong Fu Cheng (CHN) Rebellion Racing, Lola B12/60 Coupe, Toyota.Le Mans 24 Hours Race, Saturday 22nd June 2013. Le Mans, France.