Peugeot dominates the first qualifications at LeMans
Peugeot has reached their first goal in qualifying, at least temporarily, because teams can still improve their position if the weather stays dry. But if the weather doesn’t cooperate, the 3:26.344 laid down by the Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi FAP at the end of this first session will give them the pole
Peugeot has the last word
Peugeot has reached their first goal in qualifying, at least temporarily, because teams can still improve their position if the weather stays dry. But if the weather doesn’t cooperate, the 3:26.344 laid down by the Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi FAP at the end of this first session will give them the pole. Stephane Sarrazin explained, "I took a lot of risks at the very end, even when overtaking the slower cars. So much so, in fact, that I forgot to turn for one corner and found myself driving across a gravel trap. It was great fun and the team did a fantastic job. The biggest difficulty was finding a clear lap and I’m glad to say I succeeded in finding a traffic-free slot at the very end."
After waiting for the racing line to dry, Peugeot and Audi had an amazing battle in the last 20 minutes of the day. Sarrazin took the top spot as the track began to dry, McNish put in two consecutive fast laps to first move on top and then improve, and Sarrazin landed the last punch just as he took the checkered flag. He took the fastest time of the day, and went .4 sec faster than Sebastian Bourdais had at the Le Mans test day. The Frenchman and the Scot were the only to manage a lap under 3:27 in the challenging conditions. Allan McNish detailed, "I had two reasonable laps but encountered some traffic in the last chicane on my second ’hot’ lap which is frustrating having worked hard for over eight miles only to see time slipping away in the last tenth of a mile." The top 5 is filled exclusively with Diesel engined prototypes, in front of two petrol powered cars from the area around Le Mans: The Pescarolo-Judd #16 and the Courage-AER #13. The Courage is here only after tremendous effort by the team to repair it after a big crash at the test day. In the LMP1 field, the Creation-Judd #9 had some electrical problems that didn’t allow it to reach its expected potential. The Lola-Audi #5 crashed at the Playstation Chicane and brought out a short red flag in the second session of the day.
LM P2 #33 Zytec still holds the lead
After a rough start in the first part of the first session, the Team Barazi Epsilon still managed to get the fastest time in their class before the break. They retained the lead after the night practice without improving on the 3:44.158 set earlier. Rounding out the top 3 are two Lolas, #40 from Quifel-ASM Team and #31 Binnie Motorsports. Two-time defending class Champions, the RML #25 Lola-AER managed to run a few fast laps at the end of the session, after tracing an electrical issue to the steering wheel itself. The Dome-Mader #29 had the most problems and completed the fewest laps of any car in this year’
LM GT1 Bouchut swipes the pole at the end
As in the other categories, the key players in the LM GT1 category went about their business quietly for the first 90 minutes, but as the track conditions improved late in the session several drivers opted for qualifying tires and improved on their earlier times. Soheil Ayari in the Oreca Saleen #55 held the top spot for most of the session and impoved his time several times, only to be pipped for the top spot by Christophe Bouchut in the #008 Aston Martin DBR9. The Champion of the 2004 Le Mans series bested the Saleen by .479 sec and the #64 Corvette by 1.369 sec.
LM GT2 Status quo between Ferrari and Porsche
If there were big battles in the other categories, it has not been the case in LM GT2, as the top 4 hasn’t changed since the first session. Ferrari took the first round with the #87 Scuderia Ecosse F430 GT over the top Porsche #76 IMSA Performance 911 GT3 RSR. The #78 AF Corse lost a lot of time in the pits due to an embarrassing episode, as Adrain Newey accidentally touched the fire extinguisher while sitting in pit lane. The extended cleanup prevented them from achieving many fast laps. The reigning Champion Panoz team, after a rough start in the first session, managed to get on track in the second session recording times that placed them 8th and 10th in class.