Photo : P.SAIVET - VSC Pictures
The LM P1 qualifying got off to a flying start on this sunny Friday afternoon. On only his second lap, Stéphane Sarrazin banged in a time of 1m 08.477s beaten almost immediately by Anthony Davidson in 1m 07.428s, 3/10s off the 2010 pole!
Audi wasn’t having any and Timo Bernhard got round in 1m 07.556s to slot his Audi R18 between the two French 908s. The fastest times were set early on in the session so the prototypes took it easy in the latter part. Peugeot and Audi will share the first two rows on the grid for the Petit Le Mans race, which starts tomorrow at 11h30 local time (17h30 in France).
Peugeot’s pole has added another point to its tally in the 2011 ILMC LM P1 Manufacturers’ classification. All the French team needs is another twelve to keep the title it won last year.
Nicolas Lapierre put the older Oreca-entered Peugeot 908 HDi FAP in fifth place behind the four works entries with a lap in 1m 08.013s. He will share the third row with the quickest of the petrol-engined cars, Andre Bellichi’s Lola-Toyota.
In LM P2, Jean-Karl Vernay dominated the early part of session in his Signatech-Nissan until his time was beaten by Christophe Bouchut. Finally Luis Diaz in his no.55 Honda Performance Development (which is racing in the ALMS and not the ILMC) topped the tile sheets with a lap in 1m 12.355s, 3/10s quicker than Vernay.
The LM GTE Pro category lived up to its promise with nail-biting suspense until the dying seconds of the qualifying session. Dirk Werner in the no. 55 BMW looked to have pole sewn up until Gianmaria Bruni put his Ferrari on pole with one of those laps of which only he has the secret in 1m 18.699S, 87/100s quicker than the German! The Italian driver is blindingly quick over a lap whether in the USA or in Europe. The second BMW, no. 56 driven by Dirk Werner, took third spot on the grid.
It was no surprise to see Rui Aguas in the AF Corse Ferrari F430 GT set the fastest time in LM GTE Am in 1m 20.619s. This car has always been at the forefront of its category in the different sessions in alternation with the Krohn Racing Ferrari F430 of Niclas Jönsson and Tracy Krohn, which was second in the category less than 3/10s behind. Richard Lietz in the no. 63 Porsche entered by Proton Competion completed the top three.
The warm-up for the Petit Le Mans will take place tomorrow at 09h15 (14h15 in France) and the start will be given at 11h30 (17h30 in France). A reminder that the Petit Le Mans is a 1000-mile race or ten hours.