Audi have set the pace for the running of this weekend’s Le Man 24-hour race with Andre Lotterer reeling off a fastest lap of 3m25.453s in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
In almost perfect conditions, the Frenchman left it until late in the session to set the time despite being baulked by slow traffic in Wednesday tonight’s opening qualifying session.
With the ever present threat of rain again hanging over the famous race, most drivers set their fastest qualifying laps early in the session. But Lotterer left his run until the very last moment and currently sits on provisional pole for the great race with two qualifying sessions remaining tonight (Thursday) .
Things ran perfectly for Audi with Lerner’s teammate Tom Kristensen 2nd quickest in the session, with a 3m26.536s lap in the second of the Diesel Electric R18 e-tron quattro..
The first non-hybrid car was the Audi R18 Ultra of Loic Duva,l who was second quickest throughout most of this session, with a 3 m26.69s lap before he was pipped by Kristiansen late in the session.
Once again the Toyotas showed encouraging pace with Nicolas Lapierre. posting a 3m27.191s to put the petrol hybrid into a provisional fourth place on the grid. They were quicker than the fourth Audi led by Mike Rockenfeller.
The second Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the top six.
The first of the conventional powered LMP1 cars was the Strakka Racing HPD Honda of Johnny Kane, Danny Watts and Nick Laventis, leading the two Rebellion Lola Toyotas led by the team of Nicolas Prost, Neil Yanni and Nick Heidfeld.
Once again competition in the LMP2 class was close, with the TDS ORECA Nissan of Christophe Tinnesau setting a fastest time ahead of the similar car of Firth, Hughes, and New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley.
The distinctive Nissan Delta wing once again the showed that it would be competitive with the slower LMP2 cars of 3m 42.612..
In the tightly contested GTE Pro class it was the American factory Corvette team of Oliver Gavin Jonny Milner and Richard Westbrook edging out the Luxury Ferrari tram of Melo/Makowiecki/Farnbacher.
In GT Am it was the flying Lizard Porsche of Neiman/Pile and Pumpelly ahead of the Aston Martin driven by Australia’s second favourite Dane Allan Simonsen and the Larbre Corvette in third.
It was a quiet day for the two man Aussie contingent, David Brabham was the quickest, in the LMP 1 JRM HPD Honda in 11th position while. John Martin is a further 10 places back in his LMP2 ADR Oreca Nissan, in position 21.
With the ever present threat of rain hanging over the circuit all eyes will be on the skies tonight when the cars hit the track for the second qualifying session for Sunday’s great race.