Audi And BMW On Pole At Le Mans
At midnight in Le Mans, France the field was set for the 79th running of the world’s greatest sports car race. And it was Audi pulling ahead of Peugeot in the battle for top spot in the big-boy prototype class.
Audi driver Benoit Treluyer claimed pole position.
The Frenchman, who shares his R18 TDI with Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer, topped the time sheets with a 3:25.32.
Treluyer set the time four minutes before the end of Thursday’s four-hour qualifying session.
Treluyer edged out teammate Romain Dumas by 0.06 seconds.
Simon Pagenaud ended up as the best Peugeot driver, 0.27 seconds behind Dumas.
The best gasoline-powered car was Neel Jani in the fastest of the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota.
The Signatech ORECA-Nissan driven by Soheil Ayari claimed the LMP2 pole from Jonny Kane in the Strakka HPD.
Also in LMP2, Level 5 Motorsports picked up more than 10 seconds between Thursday’s two sessions. Christophe Bouchut turned the fastest time in the Lola-Honda coupe – a 3:48.863. He will drive with team-owner Scott Tucker of Kansas City and Joao Barbosa.
BMW took qualifying honors in the GTE class with Augusto Farfus driving.
Farfus set a lap of 3:57.592 in the BMW Motorsport factory BMW M3 GT that he will drive with Dirk Werner and Jorg Müller. The two BMWs qualified first and third in an incredibly tight class – the top three were within 0.834 seconds.
BMW has taken the first two rounds of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – the Sebring 12 Hours for BMW Motorsport and Long Beach for BMW Team RLL.
Farfus, Werner and Bill Auberlen were second at Sebring behind the winning trio of Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Andy Priaulx – their car’s best lap was a 3:58.426.
Priaulx drove off course near the end of Thursday’s first session when the M3 hit loose gravel in one of the final turns. Priaulx couldn’t turn or stop, and the BMW went front-first into the outside tire wall.
The first of Corvette Racing’s two Compuware Corvette C6.Rs qualified fourth in class at 3:59.519. The trio of Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin and Richard Westbrook posted the same time as Hankook Team Farnbacher’s Ferrari F458 Italia. Because the Corvette posted the time first, it gets the position.
The second Corvette of Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia was sixth in class at 3:59.633.
“We didn’t really make qualifying runs tonight, but focused instead on the race setups,” said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. “The track was covered with oil in the final two-hour session, so there wasn’t any reason to try to run quicker. We did a good job on Wednesday night, qualifying the cars fourth and sixth, and those are good starting positions. Now we want to have cars that can run well for 24 hours, so we’ll concentrate on the final prep tomorrow and be ready to race on Saturday.”
Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was 12th in class at 4:01.024 with Patrick Long, Jörg Bergmeister and Lucas Luhr driving.
A second Flying Lizard Porsche was third in GTE Am thanks to Darren Law’s lap of 4:03.648. The car will feature a trio of Americans with Law sharing driving duties with Seth Neiman and Spencer Pumpelly.
Krohn Racing’s Ferrari F430 GT of Tracy Krohn, Michele Rugolo and Nic Jonsson was seventh in GTE Am at 4:05.211. Robertson Racing’s Doran-Ford GT was 10th at 4:08.208. David and Andrea Robertson, and David Murry will drive.
“We played with the set-up today and found something all three of us were very happy with,” Murry said. “We have a solid race car and Dave and Andrea have got their laps in, so we are now ready to prepare for the race and see what happens. It feels great to be back after ten years away. It’s just as I remember it out there! With a few more laps I could have significantly improved the time but the most important thing is that we are qualified. There’s a whole 24 hours still ahead of us.”
Also in GTE Pro, Rui Aguas, Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman will start 15th and 44th position overall in their Ferrari.
Waltrip, a team owner and part time driver in NASCAR, said, “I feel a bit more comfortable in the car, but still have some work to do. I look forward to the race starting and getting more comfortable in the 458. I know that once in the race I’ll be able to pick up my lap times. The experience here at Le Mans has been great, the atmosphere is electric and I’m just really thankful to be a part of it all.”
Kauffman added, “Le Mans at night is awesome. Last night was a bit of a shock to the system as there is no simulator which prepares you for this. It makes you respect the circuit. You have to think about the times before the chicanes were in place when they ran flat out all the way down the Mulsanne. We are going reasonably well. We are trying to get a car that is comfortable for a long period of time. We are on the right track, we’ll get there.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run on June 11-12. The race will start Saturday at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). SPEED will televise the race live, supplemented by live online video streaming at www.speedtv.com/corvette. Check local listings for broadcast times.
Qualifying times for LMP1 Class:
1. Benoit Treluyer Audi R18 TDI 3:25.738
2. Romain Dumas Audi R18 TDI 3:25.799
3. Simon Pagenaud Peugeot 908 3:26.010
4. Stephane Sarrazin Peugeot 908 3:26.156
5. Tom Kristensen Audi R18 TDI 3:26.165
6. Marc Gene Peugeot 908 3:26.272
Top 10 Qualifying Times for GTE Class:
1. (55) Farfus/Muller/Werner, BMW M3 GT, 3:57.592
2. (51) Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander, Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:58.040
3. (56) Priaulx/Muller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 3:58.426
4. (74) Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook, Corvette C6.R, 3:59.519
5. (89) Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen, Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:59.519
6. (73) Beretta/Milner/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 3:59.633
7. (77) Lieb/Lietz/Henzler, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 3:59.662
8. (59) Ortelli/Makowiecki/Melo, Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:59.901
9. (75) Goossens/Holzer/van Lagen, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 3:59.962
10. (79) Hancock/Dolan/Buncombe, Aston Martin Vantage, 4:00.747No Comment