Fernandez Leads LMP2 Class in First Qualifying Sessions at Le Mans
Adrian Fernandez placed the #33 Zytek 07S/2 sponsored by Lowe's at the top of the LMP2 class leader board in the first qualifying practice sessions held this evening in preparation for Saturday's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The goal today for the majority of the 54-car field was to enable each entry's stable of drivers to complete three laps, which is mandatory to compete in the race, with the time posted by each driver within 130% of the quickest lap in each class.
The first two-hour session [7:00 pm - 9:00 pm local time] was extended by 15 minutes after a lengthy red flag [for the #53 GT1 entry] and became even more challenging when rain drenched parts of the 8.4-mile circuit with a quarter of the track remaining dry. Fernandez, who is preparing for his Le Mans debut, suffered some additional down time when an electrical problem originating from the steering wheel plagued the team early in the outing. He posted a total of eight laps, the majority in and out laps from pit lane, but was able to lay down a lap of 3:44.158 to end the session quickest in the LMP2 class and 13th overall.
The second two-hour session [10:00 pm -12:00 pm local time] began on a wet track that began to dry after 45 minutes. Fernandez resumed the controls of the #33 machine initially, followed by teammates Haruki Kurosawa and Robbie Kerr who each completed their mandatory three laps. The session was checkered at midnight with Fernandez's earlier lap holding at the top of the time charts with a 1.7-second gap to second place in the LMP2 order and 15th quickest overall. The #8 Team Peugeot entry with drivers Lamy, Sarrazin and Bourdais led the LMP1 class.
Rain is forecasted for the second qualifying practice session which begins at 7:00 pm local time tomorrow. The 75th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled to start at 3:00 pm CET (9:00 am ET) on Saturday, June 16.
Adrian Fernandez: "Obviously, the more laps we can get the better. We had some electrical problems with our car early in the first session so I was only able to put in a few laps with traffic and that was it. With the rain, you really cannot test much and you really have to be careful. You want to make sure the car is good to start the race. You are not going to win the race by being on the pole and taking a big chance. You have to go through the program and if you have problems, just be patient. Speed is important but it is not the only thing. You have to be there at the end. We have three good drivers on this team and I think we can do a good job. Every corner on this track is very technical. This track has a little bit of everything and it's very challenging. At night, it is especially difficult. It doesn't get dark here until around 10:30 pm or so and it completely changes your perception of the track. You are approaching the chicanes so fast, and referencing your braking points and turning points is challenging. Drivers with experience at this track definitely have an advantage."