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Audi On Provisional Front Row After First Le Mans Qualifying

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi

Audi On Provisional Front Row After First Le Mans Qualifying

Anthony Fontanelle
June 16, 2007

The most popular endurance race event in the world is just around the corner. The 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on the 16th and 17th of this month. The Circuit de la Sarthe has received improvements which added a few meters to the entire lap distance. This year’s installment of the endurance race will welcome the defending champion Joest Racing fielding three diesel-powered Audi R10s.

At the first qualifying session leading to the race, fans of the motorsport were given a preview of what they could expect from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two diesel-powered race cars battled for the provisional pole position. Audi’s most challenging rival this year is Peugeot which also fielded two diesel powered cars.

For the first qualifying session, Peugeot’s Stephane Sarrazin clocked in the fastest lap time with 3 minutes and 26.344 seconds. Second fastest on the rain-soaked tracks is former Formula One Toyota driver Allan McNish driving who was one of Joest’s Audi R10 and clocked in a lap time of 3 minutes and 26.916 seconds - just 0.572 seconds slower than the Peugeot.

With the result of the first qualifying session, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the Head of Audi Motorsport is apparently pleased with the performance of the Audi race cars. “We have done some good work and qualified all our drivers in the night. I am satisfied with the times we have achieved today,” Ullrich said.

The qualifying session is considered an unusual one because of the rain which meant that the drivers allowed the track to dry first before pushing their cars to the limit. “It was a very unusual qualifying today because I think it never happened before that the fastest lap times were set during the last minutes,” says Ullrich. “But that was only due to the fact that during the usual time-window for fast lap times there was either a red flag out or the track was wet.”

Allan McNish is apparently disappointed that he did not set the fastest lap time on board his diesel powered Audi R10. While the Scottish driver failed to set a faster lap time than the Peugeot diesel race car, his car’s performance is better than the previous Audi oxygen sensor-equipped gasoline-engined race car.

“Qualifying was difficult because of the red flag stoppages and weather, so it all came down to the last 10 minutes or so when times began to fall after track conditions allowed us to bolt on ‘slicks’,” says McNish. “I had two reasonable laps but encountered some traffic in the last chicane on my second ‘hot’ lap which is frustrating having worked hard for over eight miles only to see time slipping away in the last tenth of a mile. However, I don’t believe it cost me over half a second which is how much faster the Peugeot went right at the end.”

McNish will be sharing driving duties of the diesel-powered R10 with Dindo Capello and the legendary Tom Kristensen who is apparently elated in his return to the sport where he showed his dominance by winning seven wins, six of which he took consecutively. The seven-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner says, “It is great to be back at Le Mans and to be here with my Audi team members and co-drivers.” Meanwhile, Capello surmised their performance saying: “Overall it was a good day for us.”

Source:  Amazines.com



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