Good first stint for McNish
Audi's Allan McNish steered his R18 e-tron Quattro hybrid from fourth to second in his opening stint of the 2012 Le Mans 24 hour race.
The Scot had a major accident last year in the opening hour of the race but this time around he started well and disposed of Stephane Sarrazin's Toyota TS030 hybrid on the opening lap.
With pole-sitter Andre Lotterer leading in the sister R18 e-tron Quattro after the opening two hours and the two Toyotas sitting third and fourth the race was being dominated by the four hybrid entrants.
Audi's R18 Ultra cars, driven on their opening stints by Loic Duval and Mike Rockenfeller respectively, ran fifth and sixth after the latter suffered a puncture in the opening stages.
The Morgan-Judd of Oak Racing's Olivier Pla led the LMP2 class with Britain's Tom Kimber-Smith holding second place for Starworks Motorsport.
Martin Brundle, racing a LMP2 Zytek Nissan for Greaves Motorsport alongside his son Alex, was well placed in eighth in class after some on-track squabbles early on.
In the LMGTE class Corvette's Tommy Milner was leading with Gianmaria Bruni's AF Corse Ferrari and Aston Martin's Darren Turner close behind in second and third respectively, after Turner locked up when in the lead.
As the sun began to set both of the Toyota cars were involved in collisions out on the track.
The two cars were within three seconds of the lead at one stage before Sebastien Buemi pitted from second and switched with fellow ex-Formula One driver Anthony Davidson.
The sister Toyota, driven at the time by Nicolas Lapierre then took the lead before Davidson was involved in a major accident.
The Briton was running third when he had a coming together with the LMPGTE-AM Ferrari driven by Piergiuseppe Perazzini.
The Italian walked away from the accident whilst Davidson was given medical attention.
The shunt brought out the safety car for the first time, with the race just passing the five hour mark and when the race finally got under way again Kazuki Nakajima, who had replaced Lapierre in at the wheel, collided with Nissan's concept Delta-Wing entry.
Meanwhile the lead once again belonged to the e-tron Quattro of Marcel Fassler.
The other e-tron Quattro was a distant third after a five-minute pit stop to remove tyre rubber pick-up.
One of Audi's R18 Ultra entries sat fourth but the other, driven at the time by Romain Dumas, was well down the field in 22nd place after a shunt into the tyre wall.
Dumas seemed to understeer off the circuit before making contact with the barrier and furiously stripping off broken pieces of bodywork so he could limp back to the pits and get the car back into the race.
Jaques Nicolet took over from Pla in the Morgan-Judd and continued to lead the LMP2 field.
Alex Brundle replaced his Dad in their Zytek Nissan and was fifth in class when he handed over to Lucas Ordonez but an alternator change relegated the team way down the field.
In the LMPGTE class the lead still belonged to the Corvette Racing team as Milner switched with fellow Briton Oliver Gavin.
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