Le Mans 2010: Peugeot grabs first four grid spots, Corvette on GT2 pole

Peugeot 908 HDi qualifying for Le Mans 2010 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is getting quite predictable, with the big question being which of the Peugeot 908s will come out on top. After three timed sessions over two days, the No. 3 Peugeot of Pedro Lamy, Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud came was quickest as the four French diesels filled the first two rows on the grid. Right behind them are the three factory Audi R15+ TDIs and then the two Aston Martin-Lolas.

Down the field in the LMP2 ranks, the Honda powered ARX-01c campaigned by UK-based Strakka racing lapped the eight-mile circuit 1.46 seconds faster than a similar car being run by defending American Le Mans Series champs Highcroft Racing. 2010 is the final year of eligibility for the GT1 class at Le Mans and Aston Martin hopes to go out in style. The DBR9 driven by Tomas Enge, Christoph Nygaard and Peter Kox edged out a pair of Ford GTs and the ex-factory GT1 Corvettes.

In GT2, ALMS regulars ruled the roost. The No.82 Risi Ferrari ran fastest but its time was disallowed because of an unknown technical infraction. As a result, the two Corvette C6.Rs will lead the GT2 field to the green flag with Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Emmanuel Collard on the pole. Unfortunately for the JaguarRSR team, the cool green-and-black leaping cat livery has not translated into much speed with the XKR finishing dead last in qualifying, nearly 13 seconds slower per lap than the lead Vette. The green flag falls at 3PM CET on Saturday, so stay tuned.

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[Sources: Le Mans, Corvette Racing, Audi, Peugeot]
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Corvette Racing press release

Corvette Racing Qualifies One-Two in GT2 at 24 Hours of Le Mans

Gavin and Magnussen Improve Times in Second Night of Qualifying

LE MANS, France, June 10, 2010 – Corvette Racing took the top two spots on the qualifying list in its debut in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Oliver Gavin improved his time in the Thursday night session to 3:59.435 in the No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The Risi Competizione Ferrari, which had been on the provisional GT2 pole, was subsequently disqualified for a technical infraction, promoting Gavin to the No. 1 spot in GT2. Jan Magnussen also posted a quicker lap at 3:59.793 to put the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R second in the GT2 category. The two Corvettes and the No. 95 AF Corse Ferrari were the only GT2 cars to qualify under four minutes on the 8.47-mile circuit.

"As always here in qualifying, it was a bit of a banzai run," said Gavin. "The guys sent me out with great tires and good position on the track. I felt that if only we could get a clean lap and I could get it all together, the time would be there.

"I made a small mistake coming out of Dunlop chicane – I got on the Astroturf and it spun the rear tires up. I was concentrating on the chicanes and I got through those cleanly, and then I stumbled upon a GT1 car in the second chicane. I pushed like crazy for the rest of the lap, and in the Porsche Curves I was really holding on. The Ford chicane was still a little damp, so I had to hold my breath and wing it. I'm very pleased with my lap.

"It looks like Le Mans is going to be a fantastic race between us and Ferrari and Porsche," said the Briton. "This event has really been our focus, and the Corvette has come on strong."

Magnussen's bid for the GT2 pole was stymied by traffic. "The car was really good but the traffic was horrendous," he said. "It seems that when it gets dark, some people forget where the track goes. I'm encouraged by how well the car handled and everything worked. I would have liked to have a shot at the pole, which I really believe the car was capable of. It's a really good starting point."

The second night of qualifying for this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans began and ended under threatening skies, but only occasional sprinkles arrived at the circuit. The first two-hour session began on a damp track, and yielded several changes in the qualifying order in the final minutes. The No. 95 Ferrari ran the second quickest time at 3:59.837 to move the No. 63 and No. 64 Compuware Corvettes to third and fourth respectively in the GT2 rankings.

The Corvette drivers waited patiently in their pit stalls for 40 minutes before venturing onto the track, which was still damp following afternoon rains. When they began to run in earnest after nearly an hour had elapsed, Gavin and Magnussen turned laps within a few seconds off their qualifying pace on Wednesday as a dry line developed. The time was well spent, however, as the Corvette Racing crew evaluated tires and suspension settings under changing conditions. Both cars ran the full two-hour second session with all six drivers turning laps in preparation for the world's most celebrated sports car race.

Corvette Racing Quotes:

Jan Magnussen, No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R: "The track was actually quite dry and we were able to get some competitive times at the end. It's tricky, though, because if you get a little off the line into the damp stuff, even though there is run-off area, it's not big enough at the speeds we're going. I think the car worked well. We tested a tire combination we hadn't tried before – it was good for several laps, and then I think the track conditions changed. That's all valuable information."

Oliver Gavin, No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R: "Any time you can spend on the track at Le Mans is fantastic because it's such a unique place. The conditions were tricky and the track was evolving. We tried a Michelin tire that we hadn't run on before, and we got some valuable data on that. The difficulty was that you could get going pretty well on the first two-thirds of the lap, and then when you arrived at the Porsche Curves, the track was still somewhat damp. You had to be very careful through those spots. Overall I felt very comfortable with the car."

The 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 3:00 p.m. CET (9:00 a.m. ET) on Saturday, June 12. SPEED will televise the start of the race live from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET on June 12, and continue coverage from 6:00 p.m. to the race finish at 9:30 a.m. ET on June 13. Streaming video can be viewed on www.speed.com from 12:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET on June 12, and flag-to-flag audio coverage will be available on www.radiolemans.com.

24 Hours of Le Mans LM GT2 Top 10 Qualifying Times:

Pos./Car No./Drivers/Car/Time

1. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Collard, Corvette C6.R, 3:59.435

2. (63) O'Connell/Magnussen/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 3:59.793

3. (95) Alesi/Fisichella/Vilander, Ferrari 430 GTC, 3:59.837

4. (77) Lieb/Lietz/Henzler, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 4:01.640

5. (76) Pilet/Narac/Long, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 4:01.755

6. (78) Muller/Farfus/Alzen, BMW M3 E-92, 4:01.893

7. (97) Westbrook/Scheider/Holzer, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 4:01.014

8. (89) Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen, Ferrari 430 GTC,4:02.427

9. (80) Neiman/Law/Bergmeister, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 4:02.685

10. (79) Priaulx/Muller/Werner, BMW M3 E-92, 4:03.215

Audi press release

Audi banks on efficiency at Le Mans

# Audi R15 TDI fifth, sixth and seventh on the grid
# Mike Rockenfeller fastest Audi driver
# Full concentration on race preparations

Ingolstadt/Le Mans, June 11, 2010 – Audi Sport Team Joest fully concentrated on race preparations at the Le Mans 24 Hours on Wednesday and Thursday. The three Audi R15 TDI cars did not actively participate in the chase for times in qualifying. Instead the Audi squad used every available minute to fine-tune the set-up of the cars for the race.

The three Audi R15 TDI cars will start the race on Saturday at 3 p.m. from positions five (Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Mike Rockenfeller), six (Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish) and seven (Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Treluyer). All three vehicles completed programs prescribed by the engineers and technicians in order to gather as much data as possible and to test tires. "On Wednesday, we weren't quite where we wanted to be but on Thursday we made good progress," explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "At Le Mans, speed isn't the only thing that counts. It's important to have vehicles with good drivability and, above all, efficiency as well. This is what we've been concentrating on."

The 2010-specification Audi R15 TDI, which bears the internal project name "R15 plus" is slightly faster than the R15 was last year despite the restrictions imposed by the regulations. "In addition, we now know that the R15 plus is pretty efficient in terms of tire wear and fuel consumption," said Dr. Ullrich. "And all three vehicles were running absolutely reliably in qualifying – which is another very crucial factor at Le Mans."

The fastest time within the Audi squad was set by Mike Rockenfeller in the Audi R15 TDI designated as car number 9 on Thursday night. The German almost exactly matched the time of 3m 22.2s the Audi technicians had calculated in simulations. The other two Audi R15 TDI prototypes also improved their lap times in the final qualifying session. "This is especially nice because all cars were already fitted with the same engines which will also be used in the race," explained Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest. "And on the damp track at the beginning our cars were also consitently fast."

Audi won the Le Mans 24 Hours eight times in the past ten years and this year has the chance to equalize Ferrari's ranking in the honor roll. Only Porsche's track record reflects more victories.

Before the race starts, the five-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela will pilot an Audi-e-tron technological show-piece based on the R8 around the race track. As part of the "Le Mans vers le futur," a demonstration drive for cars with alternative powertrains, the test vehicle will prove that it belongs to the top league of e-sports cars. Not one but four motors – two each on the front and rear axle – power the wheels of the Audi e-tron and make it a genuine quattro. The Le Mans regulations will also allow additional electric engines at the front axle from 2011 on.

For the start of the race, the organizers, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), have come up with a special attraction: prior to the start of the formation lap, the drivers will run from the opposite side of the race track to their vehicles, which are lined up along the pit wall. The run pays homage to the classic "Le Mans start" at which the drivers would sprint to their cars. Allan McNish (#7), Marcel Fässler (#8) and Timo Bernhard (#9) have been nominated as starting drivers of the three Audi R15 TDI prototypes.

The complete race will be broadcast live on Eurosport 1 and 2. The "Audi Sport" iPhone App provides current info, photographs, sound bites and a live ticker. At www.audi.tv the Le Mans 24 Hours can be exclusively watched live from the cockpits of the three Audi R15 TDI cars. After the end of the race, Audi tv will air the highlights of the weekend in a special program.

The starting grid at Le Mans

1 Lamy/Bourdais/Pagenaud (Peugeot) 3m 19.711s
2 Gené/Wurz/Davidson (Peugeot) 3m 20.317s
3 Montagny/Sarrazin/Minassian (Peugeot) 3m 20.325s
4 Panis/Lapierre/Duval (Peugeot) 3m 21.192s
5 Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller (Audi R15 TDI) 3m 21.981s
6 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R15 TDI) 3m 22.176s
7 Fässler/Lotterer/Treluyer (Audi R15 TDI) 3m 23.605s
8 Fernandez/Mücke/Primat (Lola-Aston Martin) 3m 26.680s
9 Barazi/Hancock/Turner (Lola-Aston Martin) 3m 26.747s
10 Ayari/Andre/Meyrick (ORECA-Aim) 3m 29.506s
12 Bouchut/Tucker/Rodrigues (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 30.907s
13 Albers/Bakkerud/Jarvis (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 31.661s

Peugeot Press Release

11/06/10 from Peugeot Print this page
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For the fourth time in as many years a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP has taken pole position for tomorrow's 78th Le Mans 24 Hours, with the team's three cars occupying the first three places just ahead of Team Oreca's Peugeot in fourth. Changeable weather on the second day of qualifying prevented a new battle for the top spot but allowed Team Peugeot Total to concentrate on perfecting its set up in preparation for the start of the race on Saturday at 15h00.

Starting on wet tyres, the three 908 HDi FAPs of Team Peugeot Total ventured out on a damp but drying track with the firm intention of taking advantage of every minute available to them. Following a clearly defined programme, the focus was on testing different tyre compounds and aerodynamic set ups. As the session advanced the times dropped, though without threatening to surpass yesterday's performance; Alexander Wurz (Car No 1) posted the fastest lap of 3'23"238, ahead of Simon Pagenaud (Car No 3) and Stéphane Sarrazin (Car No 2).

With conditions improving during the ultimate qualifying session the times started to fall fast over the last 15 minutes. Comfortably installed in the first three places, the experienced Team Peugeot Total concentrated on validating the fruit of their labours. Sébastien Bourdais nevertheless posted the fastest lap of the day of 3'20"212, to the delight of his many supporters who turned out to cheer on their local hero. Aboard his Peugeot 908 HDi FAP No 3, Sébastien achieved his first pole position thanks to yesterday's quickest lap of 3'19"711.

The Peugeot 908s have monopolised the first two rows of the grid for tomorrow's race, with the three factory cars, No 3, the No 1 and then the No 2 ahead of the Peugeot of Team Oreca.

Pedro Lamy, Marc Gené and Franck Montagny are the nominated drivers who will start Saturday's race.

Olivier Quesnel (Peugeot Sport Team Director). "We worked hard and we couldn't have done better, but we haven't won anything yet. We are ready but that doesn't mean we are going to have an easy weekend. Taking the pole is one thing, taking the victory is quite another."

908 HDi FAP No 3: Sébastien Bourdais (FRA) - Pedro Lamy (POR) – Simon Pagenaud (FRA)
Sébastien Bourdais : "This pole proves that we are strong, now we have to turn that strength intovictory. We worked well today and the goal of the last 15 minutes was to confirm the car's balance, not to chase after another pole. Now I want the race to start, time is going to drag until Saturday. We have the equipment, the speed and the people to win, but we need to stay humble and hope for a little luck."

908 HDi FAP No 1: Anthony Davidson (GBR) – Marc Gené (ESP) – Alexander Wurz (AUT)
Anthony Davidson: "Until that last run I didn't feel all that prepared and it took me a while to get up to speed. But then I got comfortable and my lap times started to come down. Now I can't wait for race day to come."

908 HDi FAP No 2: Nicolas Minassian (FRA) – Franck Montagny (FRA) – Stéphane Sarrazin (FRA) Nicolas Minassian : We have gone well over these last two days. Yesterday Franck worked on the tyres and then Stéphane went after a time. He could have got the pole, but was unlucky with the traffic. The weather was changeable which was both challenging and useful. Now our mechanics are going to have a lot of work, while we rest and prepare for the race."

Qualifying results

1 - PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP n°3 (Bourdais) : 3'19''711

2 - PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP n°1 (Wurz) : 3'20''317

3 - PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP n°2 (Sarrazin) : 3'20''325

4 - PEUGEOT 908 HDi FAP n°4 (Lapierre) : 3'21''192

5 - AUDI R15 TDI n°9 (Rockenfeller) : 3'21''981

6 - AUDI R15 TDI n°7 (McNish) : 3'22''176

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