2013 Le Mans 24 Hours - On the eve of battle!

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Tomorrow, the 90th anniversary race will start at 15h00. In qualifying Audi locked out the front row; in LMP2 Morgan clinched pole while Aston Martin did the same in LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am.

This is the third year on the trot in which the German team has monopolised the front row of the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Thanks to Loïc Duval’s time of 3m22.349s the R18 e-tron quattro he shares with Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish will start from pole position: it is the eighth time the Ingolstadt make has set the fastest time in qualifying in the history of the race.

Alongside it on the grid is no.1 driven by Lotterer, Fässler and Tréluyer, who have won the event for the last two years, 1.3s behind their team-mates. “It’s always better to start from pole,” explains Duval, “even if it’s not a decisive factor in such a long endurance race. In any case everything worked out according to plan!” Third on the grid is the third Audi (no.3) with the first of the Toyota TS030 Hybrids (no.8) in fourth spot followed by its sister car (no.7) in fifth.

The Japanese manufacturer’s practice was upset by the capricious weather conditions on Thursday and it didn’t manage to really threaten Audi in the two final qualifying sessions. The team is investing all its efforts in the coming race.

#24 OAK Racing Morgan LMP2 Nissan: Olivier Pla, David Heinemeier Hansson, Alex Brundle
#24 OAK Racing Morgan LMP2 Nissan: Olivier Pla, David Heinemeier Hansson, Alex Brundle

Photo by: James M. Holland

“The aim here at Le Mans isn’t qualifying,” explains the team’s president Yoshiaki Kinoshita, “it’s the finish on Sunday that matters. Anyway I’m delighted with the work done by the team so far.”

This is a way of implying that the Japanese cars haven’t yet shown their full potential. Let’s see what happens in the race! Quickest of the private teams in qualifying was the no. 12 Lola-Toyota of Heidfeld, Prost and Jani, which will start from row three.

The battle for pole in LM P2 was much more closely fought. At the very end of a thrilling qualifying session Olivier Pla set the quickest time in the category for OAK Racing with a lap in 3m38.621s. “The race, though, is a whole other ball game,” explained the French driver.

“We’ve got the car to do the job.” Given the tiny gaps between the potential winners in the category, the biggest in the race, there will be a no-holds-barred battle between the 22 cars!

It will be the same thing in LM GTE Pro. As has been the case in the first two rounds of the world championship Aston Martin dominated its rivals. Frederic Makowiecki in no.99 set a stunning 3m54.635s to beat his sister car no. 97. “It’s victory in the first round before winning the race this weekend, » laughed Mako.

Waiting in ambush is Porsche with its two works 911 RSRs. Ferrari, last year’s winner, knows what it takes to score a victory in the Sarthe. Corvette and Viper, which were slightly slower, showed good potential. It looks like there will be a thrilling scrap in the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours between some of the most beautiful road-going cars.

#99 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Rob Bell, Frédéric Makowiecki, Bruno Senna
#99 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Rob Bell, Frédéric Makowiecki, Bruno Senna

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Aston Martin also dominated in LM GTE Am with no. 95 driven by the Danish trio of Nygaard, Poulsen and Simonsen topping the time sheets in 3m57.776s. However, with the very quick Larbre Competition Corvettes, the Ferraris 458 Italias and the IMSA Performance Matmut and Proton Porsches this category will also provide its fair share of excitement! On the 24th row is the eagerly-awaited Dempsey-Del Piero Racing team, which set the 47th-quickest time in 4.m00.196s.

Double points will be awarded for the third of the eight rounds of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship. This means that all the drivers will go flat out, as after 24 hours not only can they win the greatest endurance race in the world, but they can also take a decisive step in consolidating their position in the championship.

Today, Friday 21st June the drivers have a rest day until the Big Parade in the town centre in the late afternoon while the teams are working flat out at the circuit to prepare the cars. The huge Le Mans crowd will take advantage of this as the pit lane is open and they can walk up the slope up to the Dunlop Bridge where the 11 cars that have made the Le Mans legend since 1923 are on display, as well as the Le Mans 24-Hours Trophy at the top of the rise.

All eyes are on this unique Trophy as starting tomorrow at 15h00 the 56 cars in the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours will go at it hammer and tongs until Sunday 15h00!

ACO

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Series LEMANS
Article type Preview
Tags aco, aston martin, audi, kristensen, lemans, makowiecki, mcnish, morgan, pla