BERGMEISTER PUTS LIZARD PORSCHE OUT FRONT IN GT2
American Le Mans Series drivers held three of the four provisional pole positions at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after Wednesday's four hours of practice and qualifying. The final grid positions will be set after Thursday's running but talk of rain and deteriorating conditions may prove that Wednesday was the best choice to post fast laps.
In GT2, Jorg Bergmeister set the provisional pole time and a class record for Flying Lizard Motorsports and Porsche. The German factory driver turned a lap of 4:00.106 (126.974 mph) in the Lizards' Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the opening minutes of the day's second two-hour sessions. Bergmeister, seeking his first Le Mans victory, is driving with Americans Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman.
Bergmeister, seeking his second Le Mans victory, also leads the American Le Mans Series GT2 championship with Wolf Henzler with the Lizards leading the team standings.
Coincidentally, Bergmeister was just 0.687 seconds ahead of America Porsche factory driver Patrick Long in the 2007 race-winning IMSA Performance Porsche. Long was Bergmeister's teammate in the 2004 victory with Sascha Maassen. Long is driving a Porsche RS Spyder in LMP2 for Penske Racing in the States.
Jaime Melo was fourth in class for Risi Competizione at 4:01.598 (126.189 mph) in the Ferrari F430 GT he will share with Mika Salo and Gianmaria Bruni. The second Risi Ferrari - driven by Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele - was 11th in class at 4:07.978 (122.943 mph).
Corvette Racing's two factory Corvette C6.Rs were 1-2 in GT1. Three-time class winner Jan Magnussen was quickest at 3:49.406 (132.896 mph), good enough for a 1.36-seconds gap to Oliver Gavin in the sister car.
Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell have won three times in the American Le Mans Series including a victory at Sebring with Ron Fellows. The trio are reuniting for Le Mans.
Gavin and Olivier Beretta, who won three straight class titles at Le Mans and are the reigning GT1 champions in the American Le Mans Series, are driving with Max Papis.
In LMP2, Porsche works driver Maassen was fastest in the Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder at 3:33.441 (142.836 mph), the fastest lap ever recorded for a P2 car. Maassen, Long's teammate at Penske, was 0.637 seconds ahead of Jos Verstappen in the Porsche for Van Merksteijn Motorsport. Maassen's time was 13th overall.
In the overall standings, Peugeot's three diesel-powered Peugeot 908s went quickest with Stephane Sarrazin setting a Le Mans record with a lap of 3:18.513 (153.578 mph). Audi's three R10 TDIs were third through sixth with Allan McNish posting the best Audi time at 3:24.105 (149.370 mph) in the car he will share with Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen.
Instead of challenging Peugeot for pole position - a task that both McNish and Kristensen conceded that Audi will not try - the Germans clearly were satisfied with concentrating on race pace.
The Team Cytosport/Charouz Racing System Lola-Judd of Greg Pickett, Klaus Graf and Jan Lammers finished the day 12th fastest overall and in LMP1 at 3:31.910 (143.869 mph). Autocon Motorsports' Creation-Judd of Michael Lewis, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman was well down the list at 3:56.108 (129.124 mph).
The 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs from 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time) Saturday, June 14 to 9 a.m. ET Sunday, June 15 from the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Forty-four drivers will represent the American Le Mans Series, whose teams have captured seven overall victories and 22 class championships since 1999. SPEED will televise the event live, and Radio Le Mans will have flag-to-flag coverage of the race as well as practice and qualifying on June 11 and 12.