Audi sets the pace at Le Mans test day
Audi sets the pace at Le Mans test day
Audi again look like the team to beat after dominating the action at the Le Mans test day with Loic Duval going from zero to hero across the course of the day.
Duval heavily crashed his Audi during the morning session but bounced back in the afternoon to stop the clocks at 3:22.583 – beating last year’s pole time by more than a second.
Heavy rain drenched the circuit during the morning but teams were able to get a clean dry run after the track dried – albiet under grey skies during the afternoon.
Audi kicked off its 24 Hours of Le Mans title defense in dominant fashion, sweeping the three quickest times in Sunday’s official test day.
“This morning, Tom (Kristensen) and Allan (McNish) should not be very happy with me … However, the chemistry is good in our crew,”said Duval who will celebrate his 31st birthday on Wednesday.
“We’ve done two races together and finished twice on the podium. It’s not easy to succeed Dindo (Capello) who was a very important person in the team. Fortunately, my accident caused me more fear than harm. The mechanics were able to repair the car in a relatively short time so we had plenty of time left this afternoon.
“We wanted a “qualifying” type run to see what the Audi has in the tank. I went with some low fuel and I enjoyed a ride without traffic, and some luck that I will perhaps not have in qualifying. I had a lot of fun. We had very specific requirements today.
“We tried to undertake some long runs to store up a lot of information, despite the changing track conditions. Now I’ll rest up before attacking the big Le Mans week starting in seven days.”
The LMP2 class was topped by OAK Racing’s Olivier Pla who recorded a time of 3:38.801. The Level 5 Motorsport held their powder dry for much of the day despite having two cars on hand for the test. Le Mans debutant Ryan Briscoe was able to complete his mandatory 10 laps as a Le Mans rookie.
Corvette Racing’s GT assault had a solid day with the No.73 ‘Vette of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor fifth fastest. The second car of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Richard Westbrook was 7th.
“Finally we got to put the slick tires on the car, which was good for us because every single lap you can do in the dry here may be very important toward the race,” Garcia said.
“I know It’s only two hours in dry conditions but we just need to focus on making the most of every single lap we can do. I was the first out on slicks in tricky conditions, which wasn’t maybe the best moment for the track (conditions). But at least I got to run a bit in the dry. The car felt quite good, as it has been doing during the season. We still need to double-check how it really goes, but so far it’s heading in the right direction.”
Topping the timesheets in GT was Aston Martin. In their centenary year, the Aston’s dominated with the best time in both GTE Pro and GTE Am. In the Pro class the No. 97 of Dumbreck, Mucke and Turner set the fastest time, followed by the No.99 of Bell, Makowieki and Senna.
The pair of SRT Vipers were ninth and 10th in the GT Pro class.
Patrick Dempsey had a strong day in GT Am in his return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Patrick Long joined Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster aboard the No.77 Dempsey Del Piero – Proton team and was third fastest in the class.
“It’s great to be back, we are really thankful to be here, and I forgot how much fun it is to be at Le Mans,” Dempsey said.
“Patrick Long is such a talented driver and Joe has worked so hard just to get us back here, he has really stepped it up, and is always there for us. Really, this is just a celebration of just being here.”
“I could feel my experience from 2009, but it was a little challenging at first in the rain, to relearn the track, but it was also really important to have that opportunity in the wet.
“The last time here I didn’t really have any time on a wet track.”