24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind

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It is mid-June, the Nurburgring 24 has passed and the endurance race fans from around the world are gathering at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. That is because this Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14 racing greats from around the world are competing in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race twice around the clock includes vehicles from the ALMS as well as the LMS racing series which are made up of two classes of GT, production car based racers, and two classes of prototypes, this year’s race will include 20 of the big boy LMP1 machines all fighting each other as well as lapped traffic for an overall win.

The big battles lately have been between Audi’s and Peugeot’s endurance racing teams at these events. The German automaker is competing in their all new R15 racecar and Peugeot is bringing back their 908, except this time it has Formula 1 derived KERS. Reports from the racetrack say that the Audi camp has gotten a hold of some unfound speed from their previous entrant, the R10 . The four ringed automaker has an excellent track record at the epic endurance race, with an Audi engine winning every year since 2000. 2003 was the only year that an Audi R chassis didn’t take home the victory, that year Audi’s factory efforts lent their services to fellow members of the Volkswagen Volkswagen family, creating the Bentley Bentley Speed 8. Ever since 2006 Audi’s racing team has been taking advantage of the rules regarding diesel powered race cars, a trend that has caught on with Peugeot.

Continued after the jump.

The big news is that Stephane Sarrazin, driver of a factory 908, has captured the poll position using his Peugeot Peugeot for a record third year in a row. Breath easy Audi fans, because Alan McNish has managed to qualify one his R15s in the 2nd position, so the two will start battling right from the beginning. The two other Audi R15s will start from the 6th and 7th position, with three other Peugeot 908s in between them and their team leader. It looks like there will be plenty of diesel fumes at the front of the grid around 3 PM in Le Mans.

The race will be broadcast on SPEED all day Saturday and Sunday with a little NASCAR sprinkled in between. There will also be coverage live from the track thanks to Radio Lemans which you can find on the official Le Mans website.

Top Speed 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans predictions:

LMP1 Audi R15
24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind
LMP2 Porsche Spyder
24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind
GT1 Chevrolet Corvette
24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind
GT2 Porsche 911
24 Hours of Le Mans: Peugeot on pole with Audi not far behind

7 comments:

I can’t wait to see how Audi finishes off the race with a bang on teh doors of Peugeot team. But of course the former champions are not taking this easy as for sure the race is not yet over

I guess, defending champions McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen wound up second quickest and will start alongside the Peugeot. The No. 1 car did not set a single fast time in the Thursday night event, instead focusing on the all-important race setup.

I must say on the other hand that Audi wasn’t concentrating on securing the pole, as all three of its R15 TDIs were circulating around in race simulations for much of the second session. Peugeot took the same approach until the final 25 minutes, when its diesel challengers shifted to qualifying mode, but still using race setups

For much of Thursday evening’s session, it looked like Audi was en route to pole at Le Mans. Allan McNish put his No. 1 Audi R15 TDI on provisional pole with a stunning last-lap run at the end of the first qualifying session. The Scot’s time of 3:23.650 held up for much of the second two-hour session, until Stephane Sarrazin emerged from the Peugeot pits with an order to go for pole.

If Peugeot makes it what happens to R15? I guess, Audi is not far from the competition, and this season will really be a big epic batlle between the French and the Germans

This is one of the most anticipated Lemans season and I can wait to see how these teams will perform

I want the Audi R15 team to win. But I think the corvette team is a tough competitor this season. I am crossing my fingers!

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